Rereading

Katrina asked a question last week about
rereading books, and then Carrie posted a list of ten books she would like to reread, so the topic has been on my mind the last few days.

Why reread? Especially fiction, when the thrill of discovering what’s going to happen is gone? Well, why do we listen to the same music, rewatch a movie, tell the same stories at family gatherings? There is something comfortable and familiar about books we’ve read, like favorite old clothes or a cozy visit with a longtime friend. Each time we read them we either get something new, or we discover aspects we missed the first time. With some like the Little House books or Little Women, I find myself identifying with different characters at different stages in my life. Each time through is an enriching experience. With nonfiction, it can be hard to get all the good truths from the book in one reading, and each time through helps reinforce the old lessons learned and teaches us points we might have missed or glossed over before.

Here are a few books I have read multiple times:

1. The Bible
2. Some devotional books: Daily Light on the Daily Path, Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning and Evening by Evening
3. Les Miserables (the unabridged version only once, though!)
4. The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
5. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
6. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
7. Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys
8. Changed Into His Image by Jim Berg
9. Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders
10. How to Say No to a Stubborn Habit by Erwin Lutzer
11. Isobel Kuhn’s books: By Searching, In the Arena, Second Mile People, Green Leaf in Drought
12. Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur by Frank Houghton
13. Goforth of China and Climbing by Rosalind Goforth
14. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
15. Rose From Brier by Amy Carmichael
16. Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot

Some of those I will probably revisit again in the future. Here are some that I don’t remember reading more than once but would like to read again some time:

1. C. S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy
2. Jane Austen’s books
3. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series
4. Jane Eyre
5. Gene Stratton Porter’s Freckles and A Girl of the Limberlost. I was quite captivated by them as a child, but when I have looked at descriptions of them as an adult, they don’t sound appealing. I don’t remember much about them, so it would be interesting to see what drew me to them in my youth.
6. When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada and Steve Estes, one of the best books on suffering, born out of Joni’s questions and struggles after becoming paralyzed.
7. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stow. I was never interested in this until a former pastor described Uncle Tom as the kind of Christian you always wanted to be.
8. Spiritual Depression by David Martyn Lloyd Jones
9. Hudson Taylor: In Early Years – Growth of a Soul by Howard Taylor. There are shorter biographies of him — I may have read Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret more than once — but this one covers so much more.
10. Jan Karon’s Mitford series
11. Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot
12. A Path Through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot
13. End of the Spear by Steve Saint
14. Michael Phillips’ Stonewyck trilogy
15. Janette Oke’s early books
16. Sarah Sundin’s Wings of Glory series

I’m sure there are even more I could add to that list. The main problem with rereading is that there are so many new good books being published, it’s hard to make time to go back to the old ones. But any of these is worth another read, and I like to work them in here and there amidst the new ones.

12 thoughts on “Rereading

  1. I agree completely with your last statement. There are so many great books to read, how do you find or make time to reread old books? For the past couple of years I’ve been reading almost nonstop, and I never run out of books to read. I check blogs for books, view Amazon suggestions, and take any other recommendations that I can get. My stack of books to read never really shrinks because every time I get down to 7 or 8 books I go out and buy another 10 books to bring the stack up again.

    That said, I do reread books from time to time, I can already say that coming up in maybe December or early next year I’m going to start rereading The Wheel of Time series in anticipation of the last book coming out sometime next year. When I start will largely be determined by when the release date for the book is.

  2. One of the marks of a good piece of literature is that it rewards re-reading. A good book contains more than can be gotten on the first reading. How many times have you re-read something and thought “Oh, I didn’t see that the first time!” That’s one of the great things about the great writers.

    I just taught MACBETH for the twelfth time and saw something this time I’ve never seen before.

    Re-read worthwhile things! Over and over!!! 🙂

  3. I like how you liken the re-reading of stories to telling familiar family stories to one another. That’s a good way to look at it. Huh.

    Uncle Tom’s Cabin! OH my goodness. I started to re-read it earlier this year and then set it aside and forgot all about it! I should, uh, finish it again. I read it in high school but found it to be much more fascinating and engaging as an adult. (That’s probably always the way.)

  4. A fascinating concept: rereading books! I rarely reread a work of fiction (how silly!) but I certainly treasure, study, and digest my non-fiction books. Old books are like good friends, and very hard to part with. ღ

  5. I’m finding more time to read now that the children are all at college and we’re settling in to life in our “new” town. I have several favorites that I read over and over again – the two that come to mind are the Anne of Green Gables series and Not My Will by Francena Arnold. I also enjoy rereading Janette Oke’s books, especially the Love Comes Softly series, as it was the first one of hers that I read. They are like old familiar stories, and at different seasons of life I see different things, just as you said.

  6. Random House had a similar question for next month. I have reread the Mitford Books more than once. I hang onto some books that I know I’ll read again.
    After reading many books, its hard to remember exactly what happens when next I pick one up. I took some books to our club meeting in July and allowed members to take what they wanted. This week when my friend, Rene and I got together, she was telling me about a couple of them that she had read, they seemed only vaguely familiar.. when she described what the story line was.
    I have Uncle Tom’s Cabin on my Kindle. I don’t think I’ve ever read it.

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