Monday, January 21, 2013

The Art of Rereading

When I was setting my reading goals at the beginning of 2013 I did something different. Along with my total goal for finished books (currently at a conservative 30) I set a few stipulations on what I should be reading. 10 new releases, a handful of classics and around 3 rereads. Whenever I'd tell my friends my only real New Years resolution I'd launch into this big speech about how I wanted to get back to reading like a fiend and that I wanted to have a real variety of books in my end of year list. Inevitably when I'd get to the "no more than 3 rereads" part of my by now well rehearsed spiel I'd get stopped.
"What do you mean reread?"
"That doesn't count."
"Why would you reread a book?!"
"But where's the challenge in that?"

I'm always taken aback by these comments. To me there is no greater compliment in the bookish world than a reread. I'm sure you've seen your favorite movie more than once than why no give your favorite book a second go? I always pick up so much more on my second, or third, or in the case of harry potter 10th (let's be real. that's a low estimate) than I did on my first read. There are always beautiful details that can only be picked up with an additional read. There are connections that just cannot be made unless you know the end of a story at the beginning.  Books, to borrow a line from Shriek, are like onions, they have many layers, each time you remove one you discover something new.

It's not even just the act of reading that brings about these discoveries. My first time reading Much Ado About Nothing was when I was working on a school production of the play when I was 14. I went with my mom to see the closing Performance of Much Ado at Stratford this past summer and came home and gave the play another once over. Shakespeare hasn't done a ton of rewriting in the past 8 years, but my understand of Much Ado clearly changed from 14 to 23. I was reading it with completely different eyes, even if I knew the story backwards and forwards. Heck, I'm the type of person who can have a completely different experience with a book depending on if I read it on a clear summers day or a dreary winter one? I've seen The Unbearable Lightness of Being go from romantic to pessimistic, Pride and Prejudice the guild-book for young 20 somethings and then nothing more than fluff (albeit fun fluff).  Age, circumstance, education, hell even weather all effect what i'll get out of each read.

I know there are people out there who would rather spend their time reading new things. "Too many books too little time" and I get that. There is so much I want to read, and as I'm currently working 7 days a week and still trying to have something that resembles a social life I have really never had less time for reading. I'm trying to limit the books I read over and over again, but when the mood strikes I want to be able to pick up Sorcerer's Stone and catch something that I missed last time.

What do you think about rereads? Are you a fan? Completely opposed? Let me know!


Red said...

I don't understand the reluctance to reread. Like you said, you'll watch the same movie more than once, why not reread a book you loved? I get that there are SO MANY books and only so much time to read the, but who cares. And of course, as you say, you can have a completely different reading experience for the same book.

Katie Edwards said...

A good book is like a good friend, and you wouldn't limit yourself to spending just one day with your best friend, would you? As you said, you notice different things on rereads, and so often I'll read a favourite book for the tenth time and think "I never really understood it/felt it before." Fondness grows with familiarity, I think.

Jillian said...

I only really reread favorite books that I just want to go get back into. There are of course also some books that I feel deserves a reread -- if I didn't quite get it the first time, or like it the first time. I usually give them a chance unless they're hopeless.

There are sometimes too many books to read first though, before I even get to a reread.