On Rereading

Reading Terry B.’s post about rereading (On Rereading on her blog Tip of the Iceberg) got me thinking about rereading (duh!). Then a few days later, I wrote about what books I would bring on a desert island and realized that of the 10 books I wanted to take with me , 7 of these were books I’ve already read.

These are great books – books by authors like Murakami, Oates, Irving, Tolstoy and more – so they are definitely worth to read more than once. One of these books – The World According to Garp by John Irving – I’ve read more times than I can count. I still want to read it again though.

But why don’t I reread more then? I’ve been doing the math. Last year, 2011, I reread one book (Wild Swans by Jung Chang). In 2010 I reread one book as well (The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry). Then in 2009 I reread 6 books (Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, The Stand by Stephen King as well as 4 ya books by Maria Gripe). And then finally in 2008, I reread (Death: The Time of your life by Neil Gaiman, The World According to Garp by John Irving as well as the two Dirk Gently novels by Douglas Adams and some scrapbook books and Dragonlance novels.)

This means, that I used to reread but I don’t any more. I’ve read some great novels in my life so far – there’s no reason I shouldn’t reread them. And there are a lot of books I really want to reread. So I want to change my focus so when I’m choosing the next book to read, I just once in a while need to think about the books I’ve already have read and choose one of those.

Terri B. shared a wonderful quote: Books helps to constitute our identity (from Patricia Meyer Spacks’ book The Female Imagination). I think the books we’ve read and loved in our lives say a lot about who we are. And the books we want to continue reading, say even more.

So here’s to rereading. Here’s to once in a while picking up a book you know you love, and read it once again. Fall in love with the characters again and maybe get a glimpse into who you used to be when you read it last.

6 thoughts on “On Rereading

  1. I plan to do more rereading from now on. Of course, this year will see more rereads than the past few because I’m planning on reading entire series since the final books are coming out for a few that I have been collecting.

  2. When oh when will I find time to re-read the books I love?! It totally makes sense to reread the books you love too. You’re always taking a chance with new books but re reading something you love means you get to fall in love all over again. And you usually find things you missed the first time! This rule doesn’t often apply to ex’s though.

    • Definitely not to ex’s!! Some books are so intense that you miss a lot of minor detail just rushing towards the finish. And others are so complex that you need to read them more than once to grasp it all (‘War and Peace’, I’m looking at you!!). But yeah, it does make sense, doesn’t it? Now if only I could invent something to stop time for a while …

  3. Yup this definitely makes sense. It seems as we get older, we start to realize just how much literature is out there and feel the need to get at all of it. Rereading would undermine that effort in a way. And yet, rereading is supposed to be such an enriching experience–more enriching than reading a book for the first time, from what I’ve heard. I tended to reread a lot when I was in elementary school and middle school…especially the Harry Potter books. My friends and I would brag about how many times we’d read each book (one of my friends read as many as 20 times per book). But this has completely dwindled as I got older. Now we brag about which books we started reading (ahem…Ulysses).

    It probably doesn’t help having a book blog =P There’s definitely a lot of pressure to just keep reading new things to write new reviews. But I’d love to see you reread a book you already reviewed and then draw on that and review it again.

    • A book blog definitely doesn’t help. But the internet in it’s entirety doesn’t help – it has never been easier to keep up-to-date with interesting books. My to-read list has just exploded since I starting using Goodreads and book blogs.
      As a kid, I reread all the time. Especially Astrid Lindgren books. Some of these I easily read 20 times… But now – even the greatest of books I don’t read more than once – twice in rare cases.
      And yeah, if I had started Ulysses, I would be bragging too. Which remind me, that I actually bought the audio version to be able to listen to it while reading it … So maybe I should start that soon to get some bragging rights!!

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