The Unexpected Pleasures of Re-Reading

There are people who are avid re-readers. They may re-read their favorite books quite often. Perhaps they have a favorite book they read annually. Or they have books they love to re-read during a particular season. I am not one of these people.

Every once in a while, I will get a hankering to re-read a particular book but it is occasional for me, at best.  I don’t have a good reason for not re-reading. I do enjoy revisiting beloved stories.  However, I feel overwhelmed at times by all the books out there I haven’t read and would like to.

My thoughts have recently turned to this lack in my reading habits as I have just finished demolishing the Harry Potter books in a re-reading marathon in preparation of the final film.  What struck me immediately after beginning the first installation is how comforting revisiting a beloved story is. It is like visiting with a friend. Or soaking in a warm bath. I find it very soul soothing.  I was really struck by how much I’ve been missing out on by not re-reading regularly and often.  It reminded me of Eva’s impassioned post for re-reading. (So much so that I searched it, re-read her post and realized exactly what I am missing.)

Having (re)discovered the joys of re-reading, I have decided to make more of an effort to revisit books that I love, whether they are on my shelf or at the library. I also think it could be fun to compare my thoughts to an old review-if I’ve written one for the book in question.

Here are a few books I’d love to spend time with again:

her fearful symmetryHer Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger-I read this for the first time last year and really enjoyed it. A story about twins (have I mentioned my obsessive-like fascination with twins?) and London and ghosts. This would be perfect to revisit when autumn returns.

white is for witchingWhite is for Witching by Helen Oyemi-This is also a great selection for the autumn season. Another story of twins and ghosts and a haunted house. The writing is beautiful. The story could get a bit confusing at times with the different narrators and moving from past to present, thus I am sure I would pick up on things I may have missed the first time around.

How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford-This is another book that I first read last year. It was one of my favorites of the year. I thought the writing was superb and quirky and the characters so real and heartbreaking.  It would be fun to revisit Bea and Jonah and the Night Lights.

french milk

French Milk by Lucy Knisley-Revisiting my review had me hankering for a re-read.  I love France. I love quirky drawings and photographs. I adore travelogues. What’s not to love about this book?

the probable futureThe Probable Future by Alice Hoffman-This list would not be complete without Alice Hoffman. She is one of my all-time favorite authors. I could have put any of her books down as I haven’t read a Hoffman book that I didn’t like. Her writing is lyrical and poetic with the right amount of magical realism.

dance upon the airDance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts-If I re-read this I will be re-reading the entire trilogy. Can’t read one without reading the others. I do not read romance novels in general but I love Nora Roberts. I can thank my mom for this. Since she put the Donovan trilogy in my hands as an adolescent I was hooked. I haven’t read many of her standalone novels, but I am hooked on her trilogies. They are a perfect blend of strong, independent female characters, humor, the supernatural, and yes, romance. I like to think of her books as romantic comedies in book form.

How do you feel about re-reading? Is it an ingrained part of your reading or do you shun it altogether? If you do, what do you find appealing about revisiting books?

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20 Responses to The Unexpected Pleasures of Re-Reading

  1. Eva says:

    Thanks for the shout out! 🙂 I’ve only been rereading 2 books a month this year, so I think I’m going to spend all of September just rereading to get myself back in the habit.

  2. Kay says:

    I think I’ve said this on my blog before – I know I have – I am a firm believer in rereading. At least for me. A comfort read to me is a book that I already know I will love, because I’ve read it before. I tend to gravitate to these books when I’m sick or when I’m so stressed I’m having trouble coping or when I can’t settle to a new book. Kind of like palate cleansers. I already know how I will feel during the read and at the end of the story. There are books that I’ve read so many time, I can almost quote from them. Sometimes just a skimming will provide the soothing that I need. I liked your comparing the sensation to a warm bath. It’s like that for me.

    By the way, the Sisters Island Trilogy by Nora Roberts is on my list of “comfort” reads. I’ve read it probably 5 or 6 times, maybe more. I also like certain Agatha Christie books, the Harry Potter series, a couple of Julie Garwood’s historical romances (THE SECRET in particular) and THE STAND by Stephen King. I say go for it. Reread to your heart’s content. Little secret is that we’re never going to get to read all the books we want to. Might as well luxuriate in the ones that we want to. 🙂

  3. Kimberly says:

    Mmm, rereading. It’s so nice.

    I’m not an avid rereader, but I do do it with my favorites. Harry Potter series for sure — I used to reread the entire series between Thanksgiving and Christmas before it got so massive. Now I just pick one book each year.

    I will also reread my favorite books, What Dreams May Come and The Book of Lost Things.

    Also. I’m not usually a fan of romance novels either, but Nora Roberts for the win. They were all over my house growing up as well. 😉

  4. Heather says:

    I’ve been wanting to reread all the Jane Austen books. Reread P&P last year and am rereading Persuasion right now. I try and get Jane Eyre in every few years. But I have been wanting to reread Gone with the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird. I also love rereading HP! But there are so many other books I want to get to it’s hard to justify a reread! Great post and discussion!

    • jehara says:

      That is how I feel too. I struggle with wanting to revisit comfort reads and reading new books. My book journal is full of unread titles. However, I got so much joy out of re-reading the Harry Potter series that I started to think I am perhaps missing out. Now I’d like to try to balance out my reading with new reads and re-reads.

  5. kaye says:

    I seldom re-read–unless it is Tolkien 😀

  6. Staci says:

    I don’t usually re-read but I found myself grabbing Harry Potter #1 two weeks ago and devoured it and #2 in one day! I just finished Azkaban this am and can’t wait to jump into #4. I think I’m loving them even more the second time around!! 😀

    • jehara says:

      I finished most of the Harry Potter books the same day I started them. They are just as addictive on a re-read as they were the first time around. That surprised me a bit how much I could not put them down even though I’ve read them already and know everything that happens.

  7. Penelope says:

    I need to start re-reading more often. I don’t re-read books that much because for me, that magic of books lies in the thrill of not knowing the ending, and the anticipation that builds. Once I know the ending, it doesn’t seem as fun. But this post reminded me that re-reading can be fun too, especially since you notice something new every time you read a book. There are a few books I have re-read over the years, but I think I really need to start making it a regular thing.

  8. izzybella says:

    Oh, you made me want to immediately pick up a Nora Roberts novel.

    I love to reread-Like Kay, there are a few that feel like coming home to me, which is cheesy sounding, I know. But true. 🙂

  9. Bumbles says:

    I re-read very few books – but I do enjoy revisiting certain books from an entirely different place in life. Even if the story is going to be familiar to me, it is still a new perspective and that keeps it fresh.

    • jehara says:

      I never thought about it like that, but it is fun to re-read old favorites at different points in life. It was fun to re-read Just As Long as We’re Together last year. That was my favorite book growing up. I read that sucker several times as a kid. It was like spending time with my younger self.

  10. Louise says:

    I only started rereading in the past few years. I picked some typical books- Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. But also The Road. I was so amazed and moved by that book. I read it through the first time. Closed it. Couldn’t concentrate on anything else. So decided to immediately reread it again! It was well worth it too. You can concentrate on details other than the story line.

    • jehara says:

      Sometimes I read books so fast because I am impatient to find out what happens. When I do this, inevitably I miss stuff along the way. When Deathly Hallows came out I read it in one sitting right after I took it home from the bookstore. I was so anxious to see how it all ended. After I finished it, I re-read it immediately, savoring a chapter or two a night. That felt luxurious.

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