Better than Old Friends


Musing Monday

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:


clues ahead signpostYou 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.

Find more details

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

I’ve changed

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

No touchies.

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?


16 thoughts on “Better than Old Friends

  1. writingmom2013 says:

    For me, it depends on the books. Some books, I will definitely only read once. Many books, I will read multiple times – a familiar book can be such a comfort during a rough time. I have probably read Northanger Abbey at least 15 times. Every time, I am blown away by the writing, use of language, and fun of the novel. On the other hand, there are some books I won’t even finish. Because life is short, and while I might miss something amazing, if reading halfway through a book was worse than keeping an appointment with my dentist, that book probably wasn’t for me.

  2. I’m a huge rereader of books that I always find myself going back to in my mind or books that have touched me. I’ve reread A tree Grows in Brooklyn at least 10-15 times. I find something new about it every time and as I get older, it means something different with each read. Great post!

  3. sapna sricharan says:

    I re read books all the time. That’s the whole point of a good book. I’ve read all the Harry Potter books three times over. I’ve read Lord of the Rings at least four times now and I’ve read all of Jane Austen and P G Wodehouse more times than I can remember. And these are just a fraction of the books I re read on a regular basis. I don’t understand people who say they read books only once.
    And I totally agree with all the reasons you’ve given for re reading. They’re my reasons as well. I did my own post on this subject a few days ago. Here it is:

  4. I re-read books far less now than I used to but I completely agree with all your points on the for side of the argument. There are some books I know that I will re-visit and some that are a once only read. Some genres genuinely don’t lend themselves to re-reads in the same way as others. Although I enjoy owning all of my books for some they sit on my bookshelf for others, I love lending the one read books for someone else to enjoy too.

  5. I have books I re-read and they are all on my favorites shelf. Now that some are ebooks I put them in their own file. There is just something about old favorites. My post today is about a book I just finished and when I came to then end I really wanted more. In fact I have already do a particle re-read of the book. I love new to me books and I love my old favorites.

    • What I’m most hesitant of in ebooks is not being able to do that quick flick through, where I remember the feeling of reading the book. A favourites shelf is a great idea, but I’d be worried about all those other books feeling left out. Because books do have feelings!

  6. Also, I just changed to this theme and it looks different on your blog. Your tags are at the top, mine are bottom; you have a header thing on top instead of the square on the side; your sidebar is on the other side. Do you have custom thing going or do these choices come with the theme?

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