Musing Mondays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading, in which we muse about books and reading. Anyone can join in!
“With so many great new stories out there just waiting to be cracked open, why waste time going back to one I’ve already experienced?” – Susan @ Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
I read this post recently and the idea of never re-reading a book actually stopped me in my tracks. For I am a serial re-reader. I’ve re-read almost every book on my shelf, many multiple times.
The record holder would have to be Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I have easily it read at least 10 times, probably many more. (While writing this, I stopped to imagine someone only reading Harry Potter once and… ERROR: does not compute)
I understand the arguments against re-reading – there really are too many books for one lifetime – but if you’re going to read a book, don’t you want to really read it?
These are the reasons I re-read:
You know when you get to the end of the book, or even a plot twist in the middle and you have one of those moments—ranging from a quick gasp to a full-blown throw-the-book-across-the-room-and-scream fit—where everything falls into place (or falls apart). Well a good author will have left clues on the way, little signposts that you didn’t pick up the first time. When you go back and re-read, you’ll find them. Reread Harry Potter sometime. All seven books, from beginning to end in one go. My eyes never opened wider than the day I realised J.K. Rowling had planned all 7 novels from day one.
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You already know the characters and the story. You know what’s going to happen. So there’s no reason to rush. Read every word, appreciate the writing, find the things you missed. You missed something the first time round—a character’s habit, a beautiful passage, a sneaky quip. It’s time to go back and pick it up.
“…the reader who plucks a book from her shelf only once is as deprived as the listener who, after attending a single performance of a Beethoven symphony, never hears it again.” ― Anne Fadiman, Rereadings: Seventeen writers revisit books they love
Books might not change but that doesn’t mean you don’t. Once upon a time I could have swept away by the shallowest of romantic stories (Twilight), but then I changed. I pay less attention to the romance and more attention to the story, and sometimes I realise it’s lacking one (Twilight), but sometimes I realise it’s a pretty good one.
“A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.” ― Robertson Davies
It’s a great excuse to buy books
“Why can’t you just borrow it from the library?” I’m often asked. Because I’m going to read it again. And maybe again. There’s also a little bit of I don’t want to give it back! Don’t take it away from me!
I like it
Picking up that same book again is comfortable. It’s friendly, it’s fun and it’s enjoyable. It’s my security blanket. Why do you keep listening to that song? Because it’s a damn good song – it’s catchy, it’s familiar and you like it. I re-read books because I get to go on that adventure all over again. I may know what will happen but the characters don’t, and that makes it all the more exciting.
“My favorite thing in the world to do is read a book. I read Heidi, which I love, then I read another book, then I read Heidi again. If I stopped reading Heidi in between the other books, I’d be able to read twice as many books, but the thing is I like reading Heidi. So I do.” ― Mindy Warshaw Skolsky, Love from Your Friend, Hannah
So what about you? Do you read books until they fall apart? Or are you a one-time reader?
If you are a one-time reader, I beg this of you: go sit on the floor in front of your bookshelves. Pick up the books, especially the ones you loved most, and flick through them. Read random passages. Give them a good sniff. Report back to me. Felt pretty good didn’t it?