I just finished rereading “Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen. I originally read it back in college, but had not picked it up since then. As far as Austen works go, it is probably my least favorite but I do plan on watching the movie/mini series about it soon, so we’ll see if that changes my perspective.

Oddly, I’m 56 words into this post and I’ve digressed…

This post isn’t a review of NA…it’s a post about rereading books.

Raise your hands: How many of you reread books?

I am in another book club that chose “Nickel Boys” as it’s November pick. As I have already read that book, I am also rereading that…

I don’t like rereading books…

I get that there are people who spend their free time in pursuit of looking over 19th century classics, or books from their childhood…

I know people say that there are books that have changed in their minds as they have gotten older, they got more out of a book at a later age…

But what is the real value of rereading books?

When I read, part of the joy is discovering something new, seeing how the author develops a story, the initial shock or awe or joy in seeing something for the very first time. How can I describe the emotions that flood through me when I read a particularly meaningful passage? When the description makes the scene come so alive I can smell the field, taste the spice, feel the fabric, hear the longing…

There is something to be said about first times…

That first time you experience something new, or different is an almost perfect moment…everything just fits right into place…

Can you recreate that moment?

You know what else scares me just a little bit about rereading books? What if I loved something at one point, but no longer feel the same way? Will the memories be tainted?

For example: I remember reading “Catcher in the Rye” when I was about fourteen. I won’t say that it changed my life, but I will say it impacted me. Me, and a bunch of other people. Yet, everyone I know that loved the book as a teenager and reread it as an adult has ended up hating it…

Do I want to tarnish something that I remember as being special?

Where do you stand on the rereading of books?

Pros and cons?

Discuss

107 thoughts on “To Read or Re-Read: Is that even a question?

  1. If I can’t find anything new that I want to read, I re-read one of my old ones. It doesn’t bother me. I have re-read “The Lord of the Rings” at least 6 times, and I am on my way through “The Wheel of Time” series for the third time. I have a Kindle, so it makes hanging on to old book easy.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The Lord of the Rings is my all-time favorite, so yes I do. Some books I just skim to the good parts, and some I re-read entirely.

        Like

  2. I reread but only very few, select pieces. Buddenbrooks, by Thomas Mann, and The World According to Garo, by John Irving are my two main ones I enjoyed repeatedly with long breaks in between (5-10 years) because life experience gives you perspective that changes when you read books of that calibre.

    For fun most of Robert B. Parker (Spenser series, but others too) I pick up because of pure enjoyment. The language, the banter, the introspection…sometimes I just want something familiar to read because I’m tired and overwhelmed and want comfort.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I get the feel of familiarity. That’s when I pick up a rom com type…I know there will be a misunderstanding and then all will be right in the end…

      Like

  3. I used to reread a lot, mainly because there aren’t any good bookshops where I live. And how many books can one pick up on annual visits to larger cities?! Now that I read mostly on Kindle I have access to a large number of new books. But honestly there are a few books I love to reread – some for humour ( I can laugh with PGW any number of times), some for beauty of description, some for moral courage.. and so on. So after resisting the Kindle for a long time, now I find myself in a win-win situation. To read or to re-read is a question with plenty of options now!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel drawn to certain books for a reread. Maybe I missed something the first time around, or maybe I just needed to hear it again. It’s interesting to see what was highlighted and what jumped out at me during the first reading. I wouldn’t highlight those same areas this time and usually there are other parts that resonate more. I have a devotional I’ve been reading every year since 2013. The words have different meaning each year like it was re-written instead of just reread. Thank you LA for a thoughtful post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The devotional things I totally get. I have this book, Simple Abundance, that’s supposed to be read a page a day. I reread the old version and now I plan on rereading the new version again next year. I can totally see how you can reinterpret things like that as you mature

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have that book too, but there are other books I pull off the shelf for a reread. The same goes with good movies. I’ll watch one again and again and see something different each time. I’d like to think so LA.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I no longer reread books because at 63, there are too many books and too little time. This is quite different from my reading habit as a child, when I would reread favorite books multiple times.

    Last year my book group chose “Little Women,” as many of the younger women in our group had never read it. I reread it for the first time in 50 years. It was one of the books I read many times as a kid, and I was surprised to find that I could still recite some of the passages by heart. Reading it in my dotage was entirely different from reading it as a young girl. I found myself exasperated with the dialect spoken by trusty servant Hannah. Beth’s death pierced me as a young reader, but doubly as an adult because my own sister is gone now too. Interestingly, the young women in our book group, including the one who suggested we read it, did not like LW at all.

    When my son read “Catcher in the Rye” for a high school class, I reread it to refresh my memory. Not sure if any of you have returned to it as an adult, but I wouldn’t suggest it. That’s all I’ll say.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s what everyone says about Catcher…very different perspective. LW I reread with my daughter and again for a book club. I admit, I still loved it…my daughter preferred the movie!

      Like

  6. I re-read some books that I consider to be my own personal classics. But not too often– only when I need something comforting to read like the way you might re-watch a movie a gazillion times. Same behavior, different medium.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I recently watched Northranger Abbey on PBS, the 2007 movie version with Felicity Jones and Carey Mulligan and did not like it at all. I’d never read the book so wasn’t familiar with the story – you could tell it was the first of her novels, so no interest in watching a mini-series. I seldom re-read books, (what’s the point?), but this summer I re-read Anne of Green Gables – The Original Manuscript, because I was curious from a writing POV, and in awe of how few edits there were – it must have just flowed out of her head – and surprised by how much I still enjoyed it. (I may blog on this later). So now I’m thinking of re-reading My Secret Garden, as the movie is out now too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I admit I always want to reread (or just read) a book when the movie comes out…that’s the version I was going to watch…but not surprised. The book is very meh in my opinion, and clearly you see why first written last published…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s beautifully filmed and the acting is okay, but the heroine is so naive and gullible. I had the same problem with the Sanditon movie. I prefer to think of my JA heroines as being smarter than that.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t normally reread books either. It does nothing for me personally because I already know the story and honestly don’t get a lot of joy out of rereading it. The only book I can think of that I have reread was Gone With The Wind because I read it back in high school and then reread it again.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I do re-read a few favorites that I refuse to part with, mostly I read nonfiction but there are books I have had for probably 20 years or more that I read again from time to time. I have found that some books are so packed that it often takes more than one reading to digest. I am thinking of In God’s Name -the writer, an investigative journalist takes on the Vatican and the alleged murder of Pope John Paul I (a.k.a. Albino Luciani ). That book was a real challenge it covers everything from the murder of several Italian mafia personalities, the Masons, corruption, and the list goes on. There was a LOT to it. Some books have just become friends. I keep Sullivan’s Island because Dorothea Benton is hilarious and I enjoy that book over and over again. Others are inspiring and often something new will jump out at me, even after several readings. I guess as I grow and change my fav books have become like a pair of good comfortable slippers.

    I do get what you’re saying though. I recently re-read the classic, :Little Women, and though I loved it when I was young it totally annoyed me this time round. I couldn’t get to the library at the time and everything else was closed. Our Walmart only sells crappy romance novels or murder mysteries, not my cup of tea at all. I don’t think I’ll be reading that one ever again. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I am a rereader, but I only usually reread my favorites, often a series. I enjoy rereading these because I love the worlds and the characters and I want to revisit them. I’m most likely to go into reread mode when a new book in the series comes out and I need to refresh my memory, or I’ve gotten disgusted with everything I’m currently reading and need something I KNOW I’m going to love. That said, I’d probably really struggle with rereading a book I loved 20 or 30 years ago because my personal views have changed over the years and things I used to like, I know would possibly irritate me now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rereading something you once loved! I know! Will we view the book the same way? My views have changed a lot…will books still hold the same meaning? Though, the opposite happens too. I didn’t love Jane Eyre when I first read it…when I reread it last year I got a whole new perspective…so….but, I still prefer one and done

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I reread for medicinal purposes. That is, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and that Potter kid all lift me when I need it. And Kurt Vonnegut – my favorite Kurt Vonnegut book changes every time I visit with him – and Tom Robbins of course. Mostly I plow on …

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I agree with you about rereading a favorite book after many years. I’d hate to spoil the special memories by being disappointed, and since I’m not the same person I was when I read it, nor is the world the same, the chance for disappointment would be real. There are so many good books to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know! So many books waiting to be explored! And I think the call for disappointment is real….we are just different all the time. What moves us at one time may not be the same at another

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I reread books. Some are holiday books or books that I read so long ago I don’t remember all the details. I have never reread a book and found I didn’t like it the second time though. Sometimes you are just in a spot in life that calls you to reread a certain book and maybe it helps you feel differently about a situation. But I would never reread “Catcher in the Rye”, the thought doesn’t appeal to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I don’t normally re-read books but I have a few favorites, Little Women for one, and I got a scratch off poster for Christmas with 100 “Essential” books, some of which I have read but will re-read in order to be able to scratch off the spot. I ” ” essential because Little Women is not even on the list – LOL. There are so many new books out there though so you know, it’s a time thing too. And, if I’m not going to re-read them, why are they still sitting on the shelf?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clearly a time thing. If I reread a book I read one chapter a day, so it took me awhile to get through NA….and those scratch off posters! I think about doing the same thing!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I used to re-read books as a child and into my 20s and early 30s. My favorites were The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, all the Anne books and CS Lewis. Now I rarely re-read. But I will stick with an author for several books.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I re-read The Giver this year , and was surprised by how different it was from my memories. I then discovered there were a bunch of related books written and I read all of them . But I don’t often re-read without a good reason. I keep saying I’m going to read Stephen King’s The Stand again , but I haven’t . How are things in your town ? It’s a bit tense here.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I am pretty sure I read Catcher in the Rye, I think I had the paperback. Read a plot summary online and I don’t remember it nor does it sound like a book that I would like.
    I reread books occasionally, especially historical fiction. Lately though If the books are by the same author they tend to get more predictable and formulaic.
    I reread all of the Little House books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean about authors getting formulaic. I hate when I can guess what’s going to happen next because it’s the authors MO

      Like

  18. I’ve reread many books and always see them–and myself–with new eyes. The books don’t change, but I do. A character I may have identified with 20 years ago is no longer quite as appealing, and another character I tended to dismiss or overlook is now captivating. There are also many books I reread for the quality of the writing–just to experience the way Jane Austen, Robertson Davies, or Leo Tolstoy constructs a sentence or a paragraph is a master class in good writing.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I used to be that way, but there are times when I am just not in the mood for a specific genre and I feel that I am being unfair by continuing when I don’t feel like it. Also, I am the point in my life when I figure life is too short to read something I really do not enjoy.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. I do reread some books. A lot of the time It depends on the genre. I love John Grisham and have found sometimes I don’t remember the story if it’s one I haven’t read for a few years, so I’ll reread it. I have a lot of apologetics books; CS Lewis is the one I reread the most…simply because he’s not an easy read. I don’t have a Kindle, but can access my local library when I want something new. I will re-watch movies simply because I’ve not found many recent movies I even want to see! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  20. There are very few books that I’ve read more than once. There’s always new ones out there and I’d much rather read something that I don’t already know the ending to. I have reread a handful of non-fiction books if they were relevant to something I was learning at the time. What is interesting that I was just realising is the one thing I do reread over and over is the Bible and I do often see something new in it. It’s interesting that scripture (in all faiths) is approached this way when the majority of other books aren’t. I guess the difference is the belief that it’s inspired.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. A great question, LA. Here’s where I land. Yes and no. I will reread some types of books, where there is more learning for me; some nonfiction for instance. When it comes to fiction, nope not really. Though I will admit to rereading the Dark Tower series, which is interesting to reflect on, as I do feel I got more the second time. Great post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I completely agree with you LA Twinkle! I’m sure that I’ve almost never reread a book and extemely rarely watch a movie again – unless viewing with someone hasn’t yet seen it. Like you said, especially for fiction, it’s no fun to know what surprises are in store. BTW – My wife and I have really been enjoying a series called “The Ranger’s Apprentice” 10 Volumes – Highly recommended!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I have been known to reread books – partly to enjoy the story once again, but in later years, to see if there is something new to learn, now that I have a new set of filters to apply to the text. I found that books I onced loved, I could no longer enjoy. This was mostly because they were from a man’s point of view. In my later years, if and when I read, it’s more often a female author.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I love to re read books! I get something more out of them each time I read them. Actually, that’s how I decide which books I keep on my shelves. If it’s not one I want to read again, then I donate it somewhere. (Some books are simply bad, but others are good enough to be read once but not more than once.) But it’s a personal thing, and I understand why others would rather not.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I read very few novels, the occasional graphic novel as well. I mostly like to read bios and auto bios and memoirs and magazines, so yeah I fall in the camp of not rereading unless it’s a reference book, I own books about movies. I can reread those multiple times, as far as watching movies. I’ve seen parasite three times…But the end was so unexpected it wasn’t the same after the first viewing, but comedy or holiday movies, favorite Horror or musicals no problem watching multiple times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I admit that I will sometimes click on friends reruns, or Big Bang, but that’s when I use tv as background. And occasionally I’ll go the the indie theaters to see a rerun of a classic (before pandemic I saw Rebecca because I’d just reread it) but mainly I like new (to me)stuff

      Liked by 1 person

  26. There were a few books I reread nearly every year when I was growing up. I think they were sort of like comfort food for me at the time. I have always and still do rewatch, over and over again, my favorite movies, some to the point where I can either speak the dialog along with the characters and/or come back later after I’ve noted where the story is when I catch it, so I don’t “waste time” waiting for my favorite part and just rewatch that.

    In my retirement (where I have lots of time) I’ve joined 3 different book clubs – 1 each for fiction (mostly current), non-fiction and classic (most 1st published over 50 years ago.) That gives me a good variety and very rarely will one of the selected titles represent a repeat for me. At my age, I may not even recall that I had read it before, and thankfully don’t have anything that might remind of that “lost” fact.

    So far, I have never (at least that i can recall, though maybe I did it once as a child) reread Little Women. And, would you believe that I hadn’t read Catcher in the Rye until I was an adult? I did it for a class about the author, which included some of his short stories. I liked Catcher more than I liked some of the stories, and am now looking forward to reading Franny and Zoey which was a recent selection of my classic book group that I haven’t had time to get to yet.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s