Book reviews, musings and waffle from a British lit addict

Some thoughts on re-reads…

Over the past couple of days, I have wolfed down the end of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and have to say that, overall, it’s as brilliant as people would have you believe – ordinarily, I’d crack straight on with a review and extol its many virtues for all to see. However, as you may have noticed, I have read it for a readalong and my thoughts aren’t due for nearly two weeks so it can wait until then 🙂

One thing that struck me though while I was reading other bloggers’ posts and comments on the first half was how many people declared this one of their favourites and how the readalong had reminded them that they were due a ‘re-read’.

Which got me thinking/made me realise: I don’t think I’ve ever re-read a book unless required to at some stage in my education! I’ve re-read parts of books to refresh my memory if someone asks about it, if the next one in a series is out or if I remember particularly enjoying some part but no full re-reads.

I suppose there are a couple of reasons why: I think the main one is that with so many great books out there that I want to read, I just can’t help but grabbing for something ‘new’. Another one is that I only manage a small amount of books a year as it is, what with not having nearly enough time as I would like to read, and if some of those were re-reads I’d just never get to read some of the fantastic books I’m looking forward to.

Although on some level, this all worries me a tad – perhaps I’ve just been reading the wrong books and am missing that special one that will compel me to read it over and over…

So first, to those of you who re-read: I am in awe of you but also curious, what is it that makes you pick back up a book you’ve already read once/twice/ten times?

Second, I’m beginning to think I’m alone in this: does anybody else feel as though re-reading something means they’re missing out on something new to love?!

And that’s it really…just some thoughts…:)

  • Usually, I'm like you – I want to read the new stuff. But every once in a while, I'm not in the mood for anything new I have on hand, and that's when I turn to re-reads. For example, sometimes I'm in the mood for something amusing, in the vein of Terry Pratchett, but I've read almost everything he has out. So, instead of forcing myself to read something I know I won't enjoy, I pick a book off my shelves and reacquaint myself with all the little jokes I'd forgotten. It's fun for me, and I know the book will fit my mood, because I've read it once already.

    I guess that's why I re-read really – if I know there's something awesome out there that really fits my mood well, then I'd really rather read that than force myself through something I'm not in the mood for. And I pretty much only re-read things I own. If it's not in my library, then I just wait it out until I'm ready for something new.

  • Red

    I actually re-read books a lot but I've found most people agree with you and almost never re-read. I know there are lot of great books out there but I don't know which one I'll like and which one I'll have wasted my time over. With a favorite book I know what I'm in for. I can do a re-read quicker than a brand new book so I don't worry about spending the time reading it. And sometimes I just look at my bookshelf and I pick out a book to read instead of going to the bookstore or library.

    I should point out I'm also the type of person that can re-watch a movie or TV show, so I guess re-reading makes sense to me too.

  • I always find that when re-reading a book, I pick up bits that I missed the first time round. I've read the Harry Potter books loooooads of times and I still find something that I'd not noticed before.

  • Anne: I can see your point about being in the mood for a certain book, actually – I've got to the end of a book quite a few times, looked at my shelves and not really fancied what I had planned on reading next. But if I know I like a certain author, like Terry Pratchett, I'll wait until either I can get something by him that I haven't read before (which isn't very long now I use my eReader..) or wait until I am in the mood again for my books..

    Red: I do re-watch films a lot (much to my boyfriend's annoyance) and some TV programmes for the exact same reasons you seem to re-read books but, in my head, they're short and something I can do half-heartedly – I'll watch Moulin Rouge pretty much every time I feel even remotely poorly (I know, it's cheesy!) and it holds my attention and I love it every time – for some reason I never think of books the same way…maybe I should start! Because you're totally right in that the unknown isn't always better..

    Tasha: True – I do sometimes wonder whether I'm missing out on subtler points by only reading once. I tend to be quite a slow, ponderous reader though so hopefully I get most things…:)

  • I love Daphne DuMaurier because she writes about Cornwall which is a lovely part of England. I don't think I've ever re-read anything unless it's been a book I've studied. Having said that I think this would be a great re-read.

  • I pretty much never read a book twice. In fact, I can't think of one right now that I have re-read.
    Just the opposite with movies; there are ones that I watch over and over, sort of my equivalent of comfort food 🙂

  • I never used to re-read, for a couple of reasons: 1) so many books I want to read, so little time and 2) because I was in school (for Lit) so I was forced to read whatever was on the syllabi. The funny thing was, this forced me to re-read a few times — but thankfully, always books that I felt were worth the time.

    Once this started happening in school, I began to notice how much I really did enjoy re-reading my favorites, and so now I keep a list of how many books I'd re-read… it tells me how many I really feel are good enough to spend the time as opposed to getting to something else that I've never read before. It's kind of fun to bounce back and forth between these "comfort reads," which are also a new kind of experience themselves (as Tasha says), and never-before-read books.

    And Harry Potter is definitely on my list of books that I have read more than once 🙂