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Wednesday, September 9, 2020

In which I discuss my love of re-reading...yes, this is a rerun (mostly) but I'm curious about your thoughts here...


This is a post that I shared several years ago.  I'm still a re-reader and I'm curious about your habits in this regard, especially during this most unusual year.  Thanks for indulging me and commenting - ha!

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As I begin this little discussion about my habit of re-reading 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 re-reading 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 re-reader 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 re-reading as a technique to bump myself out of a reading slump and have done this for years.  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!

23 comments:

  1. I went to re reads only this last month. One Susan Howatch, one P D James. I've got several lined up for the future.

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  2. I am definitely a rereader and usually if the book makes the reread shelf I can reread it infinitely. It's kind of funny timing to see this post. I've been craving rereads lately but don't have access to my books at home. I've been seriously debating purchasing some of my favorites just so I can reread!

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  3. I am a re-reader of books, especially my favorites. Some books I've read over and over and over again. And there have been some books I've reread where I've felt like I'm reading an entirely new book. I think that's why I keep so many books that I've read. I know at some point, I'm going to want to revisit them. :)

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  4. I'm changing. When I was younger, I never reread books. I felt like there were too many new books to spend time rereading books already read.

    In the last few years, and especially in the last year, I've changed. I have found that rereading books has been an excellent activity for several reasons: (1) I'm never disappointed with a gravely bad book, and (2) the rereading of the book is a rich experience.

    Thanks, Kay, for offering up this lovely topic and for helping me bring my thoughts together about it.

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  5. I'm not really a rereader of books, mainly because I like moving on to something new. That said (there's always a 'but') there are authors I do reread occasionally, Georgette Heyer, J.K. Rowling, Anne McCaffrey, Agatha Christie. And certain books, The Wind in the Willows, Three Men in a Boat, vintage ghost stories. And I have two rereads out for this autumn, Drood by Dan Simmons and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Both kept because I knew I would want to read them again someday. So perhaps I'm more of a rereader than I thought!

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  6. I reread less than I did when I was young. I do reread some comfort books, and occasionally I reread to see if a book has held up as well as I thought at the time--with varied results. Essays, poetry, and Shakespeare, yes. But the kind of mysteries I enjoy now, not so often.

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  7. The only book I can remember re-reading is The Great Gatsby. I've read it a few times over the years, usually while on vacation.

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  8. I haven't re-read anything in a very long time but I do re-read a handful of books now and then. Books like A Separate Peace (my all time fave read), The Stand (means something different to me every time I pick it up), Fahrenheit 451 which would be so scary to read now given our current administration. I was watching a Laker game the other day and the virtual fans in the stands reminded me of the TV Parlor in that book. I've re-read To Kill a Mockingbird but didn't like it the second time around. Ha.

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  9. I never, never reread books I loved as a child or teen. I don't go back to books I've read more recently because I feel that I have finite years to read and infinite choices out there!- said Rita in 2019
    Now Rita says in 2020- I have book #1 by Lisa Gardner, The Perfect Husband, and I plan to reread that one and start my way sloooowly through the series (plural) that she's written. I love her works... and really, I can't remember what I had for dinner last night; I don't think I'll remember too much of the plot from 1997! Don't know how far I'll make it, but it will be fun to try. Not one after the other, maybe 3(ish)each year? Hope I make it to 100, then!

    Good luck Kay, with all your rereads!

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  10. I love to reread and will work in rereads during the year. The last two years, I've put aside two weeks just to reread. It's so comforting and fun to revisit beloved stories. Before I started using my library so much, I would literally restart a book as soon as I finished it, because I didn't own that many.

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  11. This is a favorite topic for me. Someday I would like to do a post on rereading. For many years I only reread the Rex Stout books, but in the last 20 years I started rereading vintage mystery authors that I read when I was much younger (Margery Allingham, some of Sayers books, etc.). I have reread a lot of favorite mystery authors. I have some espionage fiction that I have saved because I know I will enjoy rereading it.

    The only problem is that I have lots and lots of books I have never read and rereading means some of those probably won't ever get read.

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  12. I am not a rereader. I was when I was alot younger mainly because you either had to buy the books or go to the library. I am not sure we had a library in the small town we lived in when I was a teenager. So I reread some things I had and also reread the YA books when my kids were kids. Gone With the Wind, Wuthering Heights (also watched those movies a gazillion times), Harriet the Spy, A Wrinkle in Time. Those are books I remember rereading. But now you know, I have way too many recommendations on my TBR list to go back and reread other books. lol

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  13. I don't re-read books. I once re-read two or three of the books I was passionate about when I was in my teens or twenties, but none of them held up well, and I was in no mood to ruin any more good memories.

    I never have reading slumps (touch wood) so it would never occur to me to use re-reading as a way to climb out of one.

    However, I have been known to take down my books of poetry to re-read favorites, but that's not reading the entire book, just certain pages.

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  14. I used to re-read books in the past but I rarely do so now with so many variety of new releases (not to mention those TBR piles!) to read. That said, I'll still re-ead books should the mood strikes or if I want to reminisce a certain memory.

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  15. Sometimes if I like a book I might listen to the audio & read the book as well ... right after I finish it. So I experience it twice in a row. I've done this a few times this year. I feel I'm not ready to leave a book so I'll do it again. But I guess once I do leave it ... then I only rarely go back years later and read it again ... though I'm not opposed to the idea. I just rarely do it ... b/c there's too much to read.

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  16. I talked about re-reading recently on my blog, so you already know this, but I'm not much of a re-reader. I'm a "so many books, so little time" type of person - I want to read as many new books as I can, so I don't have time to "waste" on ones I've already read. There is one book I re-read every year - A CHRISTMAS CAROL - and a few other favorites that I re-read every few years. Other than that, the only time I re-read is when I'm reading the next book in a series and I can't remember what happened in the last installment!

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  17. I don't often re-read books. It has a to be a really special book for me to want to. Or it's a children's book my daughter wants me to read with her again and again (although that hasn't happened in awhile). I do think that knowing how many unread books I have on hand plays a part in my lack of interest in re-reading. I feel guilty at the thought. I will say, however, that I like the idea of re-reading through audio and have enjoyed that on occasion. While I enjoy audio books, it's not my preferred way to take in a book, and re-reads or "lighter" reads seem to work best for me in that format.

    I think my favorite re-reading experience was when I re-read Jane Eyre while my husband read it for the first time. I'd read it multiple times before, but it had been a long while since the last time. It was such a delight to read again--and I still loved it just as much.

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  18. I want to be a re-reader, but there are so many new-to-me books calling for attention that it's rare for me to pick up something a second time. That said, I looked back through my blog and have noted close to three dozen books that I've read more than once (a few were read three times). That's not really a lot when you consider that I've been blogging since 2006. Some of those books were just as good, if not better, the second time around. A few were disappointing and I wonder why they didn't impress me as much as they did the first time around. I would like to devote a month to re-reads, but we'll see if I can actually stick to that. And since I'm a slow reader, I probably wouldn't read more than 4-5, so which to select?! :) Here's a link to my re-reads, if you're interested.

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    1. I think it would be realistic to try to reread one book a month. I wonder if I could do that.

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  19. I sort of have a mixed habit here. I like to reread parts of a book, rather than the whole book, if that makes sense. Usually there are some chapters that I enjoyed for whatever reason, and would re-read those occasionally. Even then it's not frequent. I find myself feeling guilty if I'm rereading when there are so many other books I haven't read. Which, admittedly, beats the whole point of reading of course (which is to have fun and not just add more to the read list).

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  20. Such a great post, Kay! I hardly ever re-read books and it's not that I don't want to but usually I just think of how many books I have on my TBR stack that I don't go back to re-reads. If I do re-read a book it's usually because I'm going to be discussing it with a book group.

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  21. I used to be a big rereader during my childhood and teen years. There was (what seemed like)a long period of time where I reread Harriet the Spy once a month!Rereading slowed down in my adult years and come to a virtual stop when I started blogging 13 years ago. BUT, I think this pandemic has changed things. I'm finding such comfort in old favorites. Last week I reread The Shell Seekers and am happy to report that it stood the test of time. May try some other favorites from that era this fall. Great post, Kay!

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  22. Thanks everyone for your thoughts on this topic of re-reading books. I can see that it works well for some of us and not as well for others. However you read or re-read, my wish and hope is that we are all enjoying our reading lives and letting them be a strength and solace to us in these fraught times. Take care!

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Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy to hear your thoughts and will respond as soon as I can. Happy Reading!