Why do you reread books?

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Why do you reread books?

Postby Bryan Russell/Ink » 08 Apr 2010, 12:08

This question was inspired by one of the thread on most reread books. It got me thinking, with all this rereading going on, well... why? What is it about a book that makes you want to reread it? Simply a matter of quality? Except I know that's not the only reason for me. I've noticed a few trends, too... often favourite books from youthful days are reread. But why? Nostalgia? A sense of connection with your own past?

Does the context of reading a book matter? Like, rereading a book that you read at the cottage when you were sixteen during the greatest summer of your life? Or is it something about the connection with a particular story or character? And if so, is there a common thread among the books you reread? Is there a common element that pulls you back to reread books?
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Re: Why do you reread books?

Postby JustineDell » 08 Apr 2010, 12:29

I've never re-read a book in my life until a couple of weeks ago. I re-read my beta's book, and after that experience, I would do it more. Why? Because I actually learned more things the second time around. The things that aren't quite put together in your mind the first time you read it, so the second time it's like "Whoa, that gives everything more meaning." Those little snipits that give you hints and clues to the story that you look at with fresh eyes the second time. It was amazing.

Or, it could just be darn good book that you have to read again.

EIther way, it's a habit I think I might start now. ;-)

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Re: Why do you reread books?

Postby marilyn peake » 08 Apr 2010, 13:46

I never reread books. I often feel that I might like to do that, but then I get caught up realizing the huge number of books I still want to read for the first time, and the huge number of new books that seem to be published every day.
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Re: Why do you reread books?

Postby Nathan Bransford » 08 Apr 2010, 17:20

I wish I had more time to re-read books. I can barely find the time to re-read authors and I always try and cover as much ground as possible.

I think the ones that are most enjoyable to read though are the ones with worlds that you just want to spend time in. It's not even so much about the plot or the characters when it comes to re-reading for me, but rather the world and sensibility. That's why, to me, books like HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY are so much fun - you really feel transported in a great way.
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Re: Why do you reread books?

Postby Emily J » 08 Apr 2010, 19:24

I re-read books a lot. Generally anything I own a copy of I have read more than once. But there are a few books that I actually get cravings for. It's not even "oh I will get more out of it upon second reading" it's simply that the process of reading them was so enjoyable it needs to be repeated. In particular, Salamander by Thomas Wharton. The book is a bit like an exotic perfume, it comes wafting to me every few months and I find myself opening its much abused covers yet again. Catch-22 is another one. I just need to spend time with Yossarian from time to time, that's all. For me it's not the head so much as the heart, if that makes sense. I just want to step back into that world and spend some more time with the characters or repeat a wondrous journey.

There are books I read solely for the intellectual pursuit (many of the required texts in my school days) and these are the books that I don't tend to re-read, even if I did enjoy them. But the books that keep me up at night, the books I find myself thinking about weeks later, the books that really draw me in. Those I tend to turn back to at least once, often multiple times.

But maybe it's just me. I can watch a favorite movie or listen to a favorite song over and over again. My love affairs with books tend to last for years!
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Re: Why do you reread books?

Postby ganstream1 » 08 Apr 2010, 19:30

Because I've ran out of books to read *laugh*

seriously.

And to learn something new that I missed the first time around.

I've only started rereading books this past few days though, never before.
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Re: Why do you reread books?

Postby otherside89girl » 08 Apr 2010, 19:37

I reread books because I love them... I'm always reading new books, but I still find time to reread favorites whenever I get the urge. Sometimes it's a book from my childhood, like quick and funny girly books, or Harry Potter books (of course). But also books that really touched me, that I could really relate to, etc. It's fun to relive the feeling they give you. And you definitely do notice things the second (or third, or fourth) time around that you missed the first time.
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Re: Why do you reread books?

Postby gonzo2802 » 08 Apr 2010, 20:32

I re-read books because the characters managed to wiggle their way into my heart, and it feels like visiting with old friends to see them again.
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Re: Why do you reread books?

Postby Sommer Leigh » 08 Apr 2010, 20:52

I don't re-read, though I wish I could. There are some books I would just love to revisit, but I have so many other books I want to read for the first time that I just don't have the chance.

I have read a couple of books more than once, The Great Gatsby, for one, and The Sandman graphic novels by Neil Gaiman because they are so brilliant. A Wrinkle in Time. That's about it, I think. I sometimes pull out books I loved and look for a particular scene to reread. Usually when I need some inspiration.
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Re: Why do you reread books?

Postby HillaryJ » 08 Apr 2010, 21:24

gonzo2802 wrote:I re-read books because the characters managed to wiggle their way into my heart, and it feels like visiting with old friends to see them again.


This is it exactly. Some books I read for information or amusement, but many I read to escape from boring routines into an interesting world with characters that I adore, loathe and sympathize with. In the dark days of winter or when I'm having an "oh God, you're now HOW OLD and still haven't become that amazing person you planned to be" moment, I tend to fall back and rendezvous with a select few books. I let them carry me away on a familiar journey that still delights, saddens and satisfies me.

There are also a few books that I learn something new from each time I read them, either because they are deceptively complicated or because I've finally had a life experience that makes a passage or event resonate with me, where before it was just clever words.
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Re: Why do you reread books?

Postby Mira » 08 Apr 2010, 22:25

Gonzo and othersidegirl said it for me.

I re-read them because I love them. I love the world, the characters, the story, the feeling they give me, the insights, how they influenced me.

I definitely can't argue that there's something wonderful about finding a new book you love, it's like making a new friend. But people used to own a handful of books, and they'd read them over and over. There's something to be said for savoring and reflecting and going deeper.

All this LOTR discussion, I've started to think I need to dig up my old battered copies and go through them again. They're nudging me. :)
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Re: Why do you reread books?

Postby Jsee » 09 Apr 2010, 11:29

There are numerous novels that I read and re-read frequently. There are simply so well done, so much better than most new books out there, that I read them because I know I will enjoy them, learn craft from them and will not be disappointed. Too many supposedly amazing books just do not measure up. I am frustrated when I read something that does not deliver, either plot-wise or emotionally. I have become one of those readers who simply cannot turn off the editorial eye (I am a lawyer, serious professional hazard). I have so little time to read, that I can't waste a moment of it on poorly-written trash that has no story. Trash with a great story, I can read that once in awhile, but I can't read supposedly good writing without at least a good story. "Literary" writing alone is insulting, as if no need to provide more than unusual metaphors and unique phraseology. Need great story. Pride and Prejudice cannot be read too often. Ditto with the entire Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett (over 5,000 pages in total). The language is so amazing, so well done, most everything else does not show well in comparison. In general, I am reaching a point where fiction, my once favorite friend, is failing to grab me, to pull me away from my daily life, to satisfy. Reading lots of non-fiction nowadays.
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Re: Why do you reread books?

Postby HillaryJ » 09 Apr 2010, 14:35

Jsee wrote: In general, I am reaching a point where fiction, my once favorite friend, is failing to grab me, to pull me away from my daily life, to satisfy. Reading lots of non-fiction nowadays.


Do you ever get the feeling that the pace and distractions of a more complicated life are hindering you from dropping whole-heartedly into books? I've been starting and setting aside (never to revisit) a dozen books a year, which never used to happen. I'm wondering if the strains of family and work, and the distractions of so many forms of readily-available media have changed my attention span, or if the fiction that I'm choosing to read just doesn't have the same qualities as the books that used to enthrall me.
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Re: Why do you reread books?

Postby Jsee » 09 Apr 2010, 15:51

HillaryJ wrote:
Jsee wrote: In general, I am reaching a point where fiction, my once favorite friend, is failing to grab me, to pull me away from my daily life, to satisfy. Reading lots of non-fiction nowadays.


Do you ever get the feeling that the pace and distractions of a more complicated life are hindering you from dropping whole-heartedly into books? I've been starting and setting aside (never to revisit) a dozen books a year, which never used to happen. I'm wondering if the strains of family and work, and the distractions of so many forms of readily-available media have changed my attention span, or if the fiction that I'm choosing to read just doesn't have the same qualities as the books that used to enthrall me.


Hillary

I agree that those issues are most likely a large part of the problem, but I would add to that the loss of innocent amazement at fictional worlds that used to enthrall and excite, potentially due to the improbable belief we could experience them (i.e. a love story like Elizabeth and Darcy, Scarlett and Rhett, or Anne and Gilbert). Reality changes our perspective as we realize over time that real life does not mirror fiction (the good parts anyway, it certainly has most of the bad parts, other than vampires and such). Sigh.
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Re: Why do you reread books?

Postby sidekick » 09 Apr 2010, 15:56

I reread books all the time. It's rather weird, actually. I've got books I've read hundreds of times easily (A Swiftly Tilting Planet), and some only twice or three times (Name of the Wind).

Thing is, obviously I already know what's going to happen. But the characters don't. They seem surprised every time. And I like being witness to that surprise.

I also order the same sandwich every time I go to Panera's. Maybe I just like doing things over and over again.
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