Monday, April 20, 2015
In which I discuss my love of re-reading -- do you, don't you, should you???
As I begin this little personal indulgence of pondering or musing about my habit of rereading books, I'm going to first share three quotes:
"Tell me what you read and I'll tell you who you are" is true enough, but I'd know you better if you told me what you reread. ~~Francois Mauriac~~
When you reread a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than was there before. ~~Clifton Fadiman~~
To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life. ~~W. Somerset Maugham~~
I want to talk a little bit about rereading books. Do you have this practice? Do you go back to the books you read when you were younger and see if they hold up well? Or do you finish a great book and turn back to the first page and begin again? Or maybe you've enjoyed a book in print form and then later, you try it in audio format.
I will confess that I am a rereader from way back. I think I've shared that my parents did not indulge my wish to physically own books when I was growing up. I had a few, a very few. However, money was tight and they felt that the library could provide any books I might need or want. Which was fine until we'd go and spend 2 weeks at my grandmother's house. I'd take armloads of books that were checked out from the library, but I'd finish them - so, I'd start over and read them again.
In my teens, I'd read sweet love stories and scary ghost stories and pretty much anything that wasn't "assigned" by my English teacher - well, I did read my assignments but never twice. In my 20's, I discovered that I loved going back to well-loved books from my teens and taking another look. And I've continued that practice off and on up until now.
Why, you might ask? Well, I know that I'll never get to read all the books that I want to read in my lifetime. I know this. However, sometimes I just need a story that I'm familiar with for the comfort value. It's like a warm blanket or a cup of hot chocolate or a hug from my mother. At tough times in my life, I find myself picking up books that I remember so well and also remembering how they made me feel. Safe, secure, a refuge as Mr. Maugham states in the quote above.
I also use rereading as a technique to bump myself out of a reading slump and have done this for years. And I'm feeling a slump coming on lately. Hence, my thoughts on rereading. I'm not sure if I will write reviews for the books that I've read in the past. I may, since this blog is pretty new, but I may not. So, if you notice a lack of book reviews here for a period of time, I might be in rereading mode.
My favorite go-to books are varied. Authors might include: Agatha Christie, J.K. Rowling, Phyllis A. Whitney, Mary Stewart, Louise Penny, Debbie Macomber, Elizabeth Peters, Barbara Michaels, Nora Roberts or so many that I've talked about as favorites.
OK, now I want to hear your thoughts. Do you read books for a second or third or endless amount of times? Or are you a 'been there, done that' kind of reader? I'd love to know and I'd also love to know a few of the books that you consider your favorites to visit again. Who knows? I might have forgotten one that I'd like to go back to for the second time. And thanks for sharing!
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I used to read old favourites far more than I do now. The only books I've recently re-read have been from years ago like the Agatha Chrisie books. I do keep my books just so I can re-read them though :-)ReplyDelete
Yes, I understand that new commitments make it hard to take time to re-read. AC is a great author to visit again.Delete
That's a great question, Kay! I rarely reread books, but I do have a few titles in mind should the mood strikes. They're mostly my childhood books (Nancy Drew!) and my favourite books of all time.ReplyDelete
Melody, I understand and I think sometimes I have the older books around just to look at them and contemplate the re-reading. LOLDelete
When I was young, I re-read some books over and over. This lasted, although with a steady decline, for decades. Now, I rarely re-read, but every once in a while, I'm reminded of a book or an author that provided me with many happy hours, and I indulge!ReplyDelete
I don't do it as often as used to, but sometimes I think it's a good thing to take a rest and re-visit some old friends.Delete
I don't typically re-read books from childhood but I like to re-read books that I loved while in college. A Separate Peace is one such book.ReplyDelete
I think books from any time of your life are fair game. Whatever you enjoyed and made you feel that lovely reading immersion feeling. Know what I mean? LOLDelete
I love to re-read and have really missed it over the last couple of years - one of the downsides of getting too many freebies for review. But it's one of my resolutions for this year to make more time for re-reading. Favourite go-to authors for me are Reginald Hill, Ian Rankin, Jane Austen and Dickens - all comfort reading because I know them so well. And with lit-fic I love to go back to a book that blew me away five years or so later, and see if it has the same impact again. And then there's Georgette Heyer's Regency romances, which are what I turn to any time I feel under the weather - they might not cure the cold, but they make the symptoms bearable...ReplyDelete
I understand what you are saying about the commitments. Review books are lots of fun to get, but the stack can get out of hand. I think books from any period of your reading are good choices - young, older, whatever was fun.Delete
Yes, certain books, I have re-read.ReplyDelete
Probably when I get into a rut, of not finding any books, which really "grab" me. Ever have one of those ruts? Awful. I feel I may never find another "good" book! Eeeeek. So I sink into a loved one. And enjoy it, again.
And come out the other side, in a less "rut-kind" of place. :-)
Wishing you well, with your present reading slump!
Glad to know that I'm not the only one who uses 'old friend' books to get out of a reading rut. I'm not exactly in a slump yet, but I kind of feel one coming on. I'll head it off. LOLDelete
I like to think I'll re-read many of the books I've enjoyed but in reality I only re-read a few. One is Pride and Prejudice which I've read many times. Actually I'm a bit wary about re-reading in case I don't like the book as much as the first time. When I re-read one of the books I read many times as a child, Little Women it had lost its magic for me!ReplyDelete
Oh, that's too bad, Margaret. Bet that was disappointing. I don't think that every book works for every time of your life.Delete
We have some similar rereads - Agatha Christie, Barbara Michaels, and Nora Roberts especially. I love rereading though I don't do it that much right now because of my rather scary review book stack. I do miss it. It's my favorite way to get out of a slump (I keep a copy of House of Many Shadows on hand for just that reason!) and I've also enjoyed rereading books I loved when I was younger or even in childhood to see what I think. I'm hoping to set a month aside to indulge in some serious rereading soon because I do miss it!ReplyDelete
I love House of Many Shadows! One of my favorite Michaels books. I think setting a month aside for 'comfort reads' sounds like a marvelous idea!Delete
I'm so glad to meet someone else who rereads books!! I am a big re-reader of books. I have a bunch of books that I keep and re-read them every two or three years. A chosen few get read every single year - like Winter Solstice and September by R. Pilcher. I re-read when I need a comfort read, or when my brain cannot handle all the ins and outs of a new read, or when I cannot for the life of me (and this is just happening a lot lately) find something out there that I want to read enough to go out and buy the book or even get it from the library! I'm hoping this stops soon, because I really do need some new reads. How else will I get some more books to re-read over and over if I don't!ReplyDelete
Linda in VA
I hear you, Linda and agree with what you are saying. I've found that in the last few years, when I've had hard, stressful times with family illness or the like, my reading has gravitated to the 'comfort' side of things. Sometimes, it has been all I do to pick up a well-loved book and bury myself - but, it was the right thing because the stress would ease and I'd feel better after a while. I think the books we re-visit are so personal to us too. By the way, I enjoyed both Winter Solstice and September, but haven't read either in a long time. :-)Delete
Ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto for your favorite authors and types of books as a child. Not love stories unless they involved a haunted house. lol. I tend to only re-read classics: Agatha Christie, Wuthering Heights was a favorite that I read a few times, Phyllis Whitney...I think to reminisce. I just don't have as much time to read as I would like, (all day) so I tend to read new books.ReplyDelete
I laughed at no love stories unless in a haunted house! I understand.Delete
I feel Ike we are bookish kindred souls ( if that is a thing at least). Lol! I love, love, love Agatha Christie, Barbara Michaels, Elizabeth Peters, and so many of your other favorites listed. I love to reread especially when I am in a reading slump and a lot of my audiobooks are rereads. I also like to reread series books when it has been awhile since I read that series and I have forgotten important details. I am considering rereading the Lacey Flint series at some point just because I love them so much. I would love to read your thoughts on your rereads if you do share just because these are some of my favorite authors :)ReplyDelete
Thanks! If you like those authors, we are indeed bookish kindred souls. I think will try to share some thoughts on my rereads. I mean, why not? These are good books that others might not know about, even if they have been around for a while. Who ever said that we could only read 'new' books, right? And I've thought about rereading the Lacey books too. ;-)Delete
Those are some great favorite authors Kay. Unfortnately, I rarely reread anything, as I feel guilty when so many unread books sit on my shelves. I actally donate or gift my books once I've read them.ReplyDelete
A few books I've reread were: TC Boyle's Tortilla Curtain (loved that book), A Separate Peace, The Pearl, and a few other classics from high school that I enjoyed.
Diane, you mention of A Separate Peace is the second one here. I've not ever read that book. Guess I should. I do remember The Pearl. And I have donated or gifted a lot of my books too. Just not all of them or I've found copies of well loved ones again in the library or at a used bookstore and gotten them again.Delete
We couldn't afford books when I was a child either although I did get a few at Christmas. I also borrowed my brother's once I got old enough to read what he was reading and these - Enid Blyton and a few boy's adventure books - I read over and over and over. Other than those I was a child who used the library, like you and there were a few books I took out again and again.ReplyDelete
I'm not a huge rereader but there are a few I love that I like to reread every few years, such as several Georgette Heyer books, mainly because I love them so much. I'm rereading the Narnia books this year but have got stuck after two because sadly they are just not as good as I remember them from when I was a child. Tempted too by a reread of the Harry Potter books. I plan to read the first one with my grandson in the summer so that will kick me off. Nice post, Kay.
What a fun thing to reread the Harry Potter books with a grandchild. Good luck with that! And thanks for sharing that I wasn't the only kid with mostly library books for company. LOLDelete
I so rarely re-read books. I have re-read only a handful in my life. I do like the idea of revisiting books I read in print in audio format--and have done so just once so far. It's always been my intention that I will re-read certain books. One of my criteria for keeping books I've read is so I can someday re-read them. Like I said though, it rarely happens. Too many yet-to-be read books to read that seem to take my attention.ReplyDelete
The only reason I am re-reading (for the third time) Jane Eyre right now is because my husband is reading it for the first time and asked me if I wanted to read it with him. I'm so glad I said yes!
I know not everyone likes to get on the reread wagon. And I do understand about so many new books out there. I haven't read Jane Eyre in so many years. I should try that book again.Delete
I do like to reread books and I try to keep only the books I am willing or planning to reread. But it is always a competition between wanting to read new books from my huge TBR piles or reread the old ones. My goal this year is to reread at least six books. I regularly reread Rex Stout mysteries, but there are a lot of other authors I would like to reread.ReplyDelete
It is hard to pull away from the new and shiny to go back and look at the older and well-loved. I totally understand. :-)Delete
Oh, how I loved reading this! I do read books over again. A few I've read several times each: The Bachelor Brothers' Bed&Breakfast, The Diary of a Nobody, Three Men in a Boat, Miss Read books, The Sun Also Rises, The Great Gatsby, Anne of Green Gables, many PG Wodehouse stories/books, Mrs Dalloway, To The Lighthouse, and one of the Rabbi Small books by Harry Kemelman (and plan to reread them all). Okay, I'll quit. But YES, I love reading books again that I have loved. It's like music. If I like an album I'll listen to it over and over again! Or a tv show or movie. Great post, and please do write about the old books.ReplyDelete
It is like listening to favorite song or watching a favorite movie or TV show again. I know that some don't like that - the TV and movie watching - my husband doesn't - but some, like us, it's lovely. Yes, I've decided I'll just write about whatever I'd like - reread or not. :-)Delete