books · discussions · shanti

Why Do We Reread?

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?

reread discussion.jpg

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!

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23 thoughts on “Why Do We Reread?

  1. I just LOVE to reread things. I am a rereader of all the things. Between my own changing perspective and the kinds of details I never noticed before, I just get amazed at all of the things I get to find every time I reopen a book. And that goes for TV shows, too. Because I love all of them. ❤ YES TO REREADING AND THIS POST SPEAKS TO MY SOUL.

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    1. Rereading is amazing, especially if it’s a book with lots of details. I don’t watch TV that much, but rewatching youtube shows is amazing. Rereading is also very relaxing. I’m so glad you agree!

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  2. Hmm, interesting thoughts. I don’t reread often, but when I do it probably falls under one of those categories: that I want to revisit the character journey, I’ve forgotten most of the book and can’t remember why I liked it in the first place, I want to compare my thoughts with my past self’s–or there were REALLY AWESOME QUOTES and I need to find them. I’ve definitely reread a book for that before, lol

    Alexa
    thessalexa.blogspot.com
    verbosityreviews.com

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    1. I used to reread way more than I do now because we owned about 30 books and lived 10 hours drive from the nearest library. I didn’t think of the remembering why you liked it idea–that’s a good reason too. Sometimes you do just have to find the quotes, haha.

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  3. I reread a lot less now that I’m blogging and working full time, but I used to do a lot of it. These days, it’s really a comfort activity for me. If I’ve had a particularly shitty week, or I’m going through a difficult time for whatever reason, there are certain titles I always reach for. I reread Fangirl often too, along with series like The Princess Diaries and Harry Potter. They are books that I can always get totally lost in, no matter what is happening in my actual world at that particular time. When I am feeling especially overwhelmed by the world, I find Cather in Fangirl to be a helpful character to revisit. I like to pretend I have a Levi to help me through it too, haha.

    Thanks for writing about this. I love that you have run this feature. Because there are so many new releases all the time and everybody is always talking about trends, I feel like the love of rereading is something that gets lost sometimes. Being able to come back to it makes me happy 🙂

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    1. Yeah, rereading is a bout time–new titles are so shiny and attention grabbing. Books you know well and unequivocally love are definitely great for comfort. I love Levi–he’s so sweet, so I totally get you on that one. I’m so glad you enjoyed this feature, Lydia–it’s so important to remember why we love books and what makes them special.

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  4. I used to reread a lot more when I was younger – usually for the reasons you mentioned in your blog post. But after I made a blog and became more active online, I started discovering all these amazing books I’d never read and stopped revisiting old favorites. I, personally, feel like the first time reading a book is the most magical because you don’t know what to expect and it’s all very exciting. Sometimes when I’m feeling nostalgic, I will pick up a book I loved and skim-read specific scenes that were my favorite.

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    1. Yes, the internet filled with books that MUST BE READ NOW. I get that feeling all the time. The first time is definitely special in a lot of ways, but sometimes that memory makes the next time special as well. I do that too, if I’m not up to reading the whole thing.

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  5. I love what you’ve written. It’s true, I read because I want to relive the magic. And if it’s an ultimately favorite book of mine, I’m just going to keep on re-reading it no matter what. (I re-read the entire HP series 4 times haha). I believe that you don’t just buy books to read them ONCE but A LOT OF TIMES 🙂 ❤

    Jillian @ Jillian’s Books

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    1. The magic of a read is so important, and rereading always brings that back for me. I want to do another full reread of the HP series–I don’t think I’ve done them lately. Yeah, I only buy books that I think I’ll want to reread.

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  6. I reread because I’m forgetting lol sometimes I’m sure I read the book (of coz I’m not talking about classics, but usual “international bestseller” – fiction) but I don’t remember what’s all about, don’t remember the name of heroes or what happened to them. Maybe bcz often I’m reading just to relax/kinda meditation/ but not to think..

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  7. Such a great post! I, just like you, love to re-read to get back into a world I love, it feels so good, just like coming home again. Also, to reunite with lovely characters I fell in love with for sure. It’s funny, now you made me think about re-reading. I haven’t re-read anything this year, mainly because I was too busy trying to read all the new books I discovered thanks to book blogging, and didn’t find time to re-read. I really want to try, this year, it feels good to go back to the books we love 🙂

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    1. I love that books are sort of a home for me, especially because I’ve moved so much in my life–books are always there. You should do some rereading, Marie! It feels good. I hope you find time (but totally understand the appeal of new lovely books)

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  8. I’m the girl who has a quote for everything, so here is it is: «It is old friends, not lovers, to whom you are most likely to turn when you need comfort. Fatigue, grief, and illness call for familiarity, not innovation. In bed with the flu, you do not say, “Hey, I’ve never tried Afghan food! Let’s order some takeout, and heavy on the turmeric!” You crave chicken soup. » Foreword: On Rereading, Rereadings, Ann Fadiman. That’s why I reread. 🙂

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  9. I love to reread. it is really the best 🙂 Whenever I am in a slump, rereading my favourite books just makes everything insanely better. And one can NEVER EVER get tired of Harry Potter!!! Great post 🙂

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  10. Yeah I re-read (that is past tens, when I had time) Now I barely have time to read recreationally. But I re-read for all the reasons you say, mostly though just to revel in the language. Goes for poetry but also for great books, and as you say when you re-read you’re sure it is going to be good. That sucks to be stuck in a remote himalayan valley for seven years with only 30 books. What were your parents thinking? Reckon you should write a novel “seven years in remote HImaiayas”

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    1. It’s really tragic that you don’t have time to read for fun–it’s one of my most valued pastimes, obviously. Lovely language is always worth a reread–though I don’t read enough poetry to think much of rereading it. It was really horrible, except living in the mountains was also great. I’m sure it would be a harrowing read.

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