Hi Virtually Readers! And Happy New Year! It’s probably going to be another awesome year of books and frenetic fangirling around here—I hope you’ll stick with us. Later this week we have an end of year book survey, but for today, there’s this discussion post: Why do we reread? You may have noticed our *fabulous* feature for the month of December (and this is the third year oh ma gosh): ‘Tis the Season of Rereading. To wrap that up, I thought I’d finish with a discussion: Why do we reread?
I should start by saying that this post speaks for me alone, and the reasons that I reread. I know that not everyone rereads, and not everyone has the same thoughts about the value of rereading. But I think that most people could agree that you don’t reread because of the plot. The suspense mostly happens the first time around, unless you’re lucky enough to have forgotten most of it (which is fine. That’s a good reason to reread as well).
One of the main reasons that I reread is for the characters. Even if you know the story, a well written character will continue to enchant on the second, third, fourth, and fifth times reading. Chanda, from Chanda’s Secrets and Chanda’s Wars by Allan Stratton definitely does this for me, and the same goes for Tamora Pierce’s Kel and Michelle Coopers Sophia. These characters mean something to me, and every time I read about them, I get to know them better.
Another reason that I reread is that I love the world. The Harry Potter world, for example, is just so nuanced and detailed, that every time I reread it I get more out of it. The world of Harry Potter is a lovely place to be (even if it’s scary sometimes), and the same goes for the Lunar Chronicles, and Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. When the world and setting is a place you care about, the way the story can immerse you in that means something, and is a valid reason to reread. (really, there aren’t any valid reasons not to reread)
Sometimes it’s really hard to know which book to read next. And by sometimes, I mean always. What if you don’t like it? With a book you’re rereading, there is comfort, because you know what to expect. A reread book is wonderfully familiar, and that means that reading it is a totally different experience than a book you’ve read before. Karen Healey’s When We Wake, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom sequence and Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl definitely fit into that category for me.
Once published, books never change. But you do. Books that have made you think, defined in some way who you are, are always interesting to come back to, to see how your response to the story is different. If you want to reevaluate a book, you can’t do it without rereading.(or at least, you can’t do it fairly) With the ‘Tis the Season of Rereading feature, I’ve looked at The Host (by Stephenie Meyer), Divergent, and Anne of Green Gables again, and outside of the feature, I’ve thought about The Circle and A Wicked Thing.
You might also reread because you have to read a book for class (me and this changes everything); because you feel guilty for owning a book and only reading it once; or because you want to relive some childhood nostalgia (Ingo! Harry Potter! Anne of Green Gables! The Key to Rondo! Little House on the Prairie!), or maybe reading is your only recreational activity and you have approximately 30 books, and you live in a remote area of the Himalayas where you can’t get any more so you reread the same ones over and over. (Yeah, this was me seven years ago).
I love rereading. I think it makes me love books more, most of the time, and see them differently. The thing about rereading is that if you’re doing it, the book is probably excellent, and you know you’re going to enjoy it. That’s wonderful; that’s comforting; that’s worth it.
So do you reread, Virtually Readers? Why? Tell me in the comments!