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Why I Reread

photo by flickr user Nick J. Webb
photo by flickr user Nick J. Webb

It’s hard to believe that January is about half over! Like Anna, I’m a little late in getting my reading goals for the new year going. I’ve gotten started on the Morris/Nonfiction Challenge (only doing nonfiction books), but as of this writing, I’ve still got 3 and a half books to finish for that. Beyond this challenge, and YALSA’s Hub Reading Challenge coming up in February, my main reading resolution for the new year is to read more new books. Looking back on 2014, I think I reread about 15 books, which is high even for me. I know that I reread a lot this past year largely because we had a big year of transition, but I tend to reread often even during less crazy times of life.

I know there’s a wide range of how readers and librarians feel about rereading. A 2013 informal survey of Hub bloggers shows just one example of this division. I can certainly respect the point of view of those who don’t like to reread, not least because I think many of those readers end up reading a lot more widely than I do. Still, find rereading to be both an enjoyable and a useful practice, and I wanted to share some of the reasons why:

  1. Rereading helps build old favorites to return to over and over again. This is, I think, the standard reason given by fans of rereading. When you read a book many times, you build a relationship with it. Just about every spring, I pull out Pride and Prejudice, so I feel like that book helps get me in a springtime mood. Of course, I also return to my old favorites when I feel stressed and need some comfort, or just when I don’t know what I feel like reading next.
  2. Rereading lets you experience a book differently over time. I have several books that I’ve read 2 or 3 times, even though I don’t consider themsunshine_robinmckinley old favorites, because I wanted to see if my opinion of them had changed. One that comes to mind is Sunshine by Robin McKinley (a 2005 Best Book for Young Adults), which I didn’t much like when I first read it in college (too squeamish about all things vampire), but have enjoyed rereading it in my late twenties, and now again in my early thirties. Author Rebecca Mead wrote an entire book about her different experiences of reading George Eliot’s Middlemarch at different times of her life.
  3. Rereading can contribute to a fun social experience of a book. I did notice in the Hub post above that even some people who don’t especially like to reread would do so when a movie was coming out, or to prepare for a book discussion. I find that rereading a book often gets me more excited to see an upcoming film or attend a book-related event (Harry and the Potters concert, anyone?).
  4. I’m never going to read all the books. Ok, so I know that nobody is going to read all the books. But I am a slow reader. I am never going to be the librarian who has read all the “next big thing” books before they are published. And while I try to read outside my comfort zone, I am always going to have to rely on reviews and other reader’s advisory tools to help me make recommendations. So in the end, I think that I might as well go ahead and reread that book one more time–who knows what I’ll rediscover?

-Libby Gorman, currently reading (for the first time) Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw and currently rereading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

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One Comment

  1. Terri Bynum Terri Bynum

    Well amen to that! I’m a huge rereader; much of the time I reread to refresh for a new installment of a series that’s being released.

    Many times I’ve come SOOOO close to swearing off of incomplete series for good! It’s beyond frustrating to read something phenomenal only to find out that the next installment isn’t out for another year!

    I’m with you on rereading for comfort. I do that with the Twilight series. :-)

    Great topic!

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