In Defense of Rereading

Posted March 7, 2014 by Briana in book, books, novel, novels, Reading, rereading, Writing / 7 Comments

Photo Credit: Pestpruf on Flickr
Photo Credit: Pestpruf on Flickr

Recently I spoke to someone who doesn’t believe in rereading books. “It won’t be any different from the first time I read it,” she said. “The material is the same. I don’t get the purpose.”

This sentiment, though shocking, is one I’ve heard echoed in previous conversations by a variety of people. The general consensus seems to be that once you’ve read a book, you shouldn’t read it again.

This idea is nonsense.

When I think about the stories I’ve experienced in my life, it amazes me how some of them have changed with the passage of time. One of my favorite books, for example, is George Orwell’s dystopian classic Nineteen Eighty-Four. I shudder to think what might’ve happened had I only read it once.

The first time I read the novel, I was thirteen. That’s too young to fully grasp most of what happens in the book, primarily the political overtones and the implications of the society Orwell has crafted. The sex scenes and manifesto went right over my head. What can I say? I was naive.

Every time I read Nineteen Eighty-Four, I notice something new. I’ve read this book at least a dozen times and still I learn more with each reading. The material isn’t changing (that much is obvious), but I certainly am. As I continue to change I’m sure I’ll continue to get different things out of the novel.

If you’ve read something once, there’s no reason you shouldn’t sit down and reread it. If it’s a book like Nineteen Eighty-Four, it should withstand the test of time. Whether it’s The Great Gatsby, Harry Potter, or Crime and Punishment, there’s something new to discover when you dip back into the pages.

Don’t believe me? Well, there’s only one way to find out.

How do you feel about rereading books? What books have you enjoyed rereading?

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7 responses to “In Defense of Rereading

  1. I don’t think they have found the right book yet. If you really LOVE a book, as strange as that sounds, you will enjoy re-reading and re-living – so to speak – your favourite moments. You’re right in saying that you always pick up something the second time around…and third. It’s the same with movies – I wonder if they watch those twice? I love re-reading books by #beccafitzpatrick and #jrward.

  2. Sadly I have so many books on my shelves that I cannot reread many of them.But once I’m done with the majority of the books on my to-read-list,I’ll reread them.
    As a student of English literature in high school,I read almost all my books at least 3-4 times and it was during that period that I learned about the importance of rereading; some books when read for the 2nd or 3rd time turn even more beautiful.I had such experiences with The God of Small Things (Booker Prize Winner in 97), Hamlet, A Passage to India and A Streetcar Named Desire – even if it’s only a play.

  3. It can be hard to reread books if you’ve read them recently. I usually give mine at LEAST a three-month cooling period before I pick them up again.

  4. Re-reading books is like re-watching a movie, every time you do it you usually find new bits you didn’t notice before 😀 I thinker-reading books is a great thing to do, there are a few books I re-read all the time, just because I don’t want them to end!