Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme which poses a question or a thought for participants to discuss centering on the subject of books or reading.
Today’s question has to do with rereading:
I’ve asked before if you re-read your books (feel free to recap), but right now I want to know if that habit has changed? Did you, for example, reread more as a child and your access to new books was limited by how often you could convince your mother to take you to the library? Has the economy affected your access so that you’re forced to reread more often now? Have you grown to look at old books as old friends so that you’re happy to spend time with them rather than rushing the next new thing?
I don’t remember whether I reread much as a child, though I imagine I did with a few favorite books. I don’t think the economy has had much effect on rereading: if I couldn’t afford new books, there are hundreds through the library. But I do reread some books, for several reasons:
1. It is like a visit with an old friend, much like listening to the same music, rewatching a movie, telling the same stories at family gatherings. It’s cozy, comfortable, and familiar.
2. It’s hard to get everything from most books the first time through. To me the best books are those I can revisit many times and still gain something from.
3. It’s hard to remember everything we got from the first read, especially (for me) with nonfiction.
4. It reinforces what I learned from the book before.
5. I identify with different characters or parts of the book differently at different stages. Little Women is a classic example: I identified with different ones of the girls as a child and young teenager; as a young wife I identified with Meg; as an older mom I saw Marmee through new eyes (and the girls, too, for that matter, looking on them from a mother’s point of view rather than as friends.)
6. It can be just plain fun to revisit a story.
The problem is that there are so many enticing new books to choose from that it is hard to make the decision to reread an old one. Sometimes with nonfiction I choose to reread because I need those lessons or that information again. But with fiction, audiobooks are a great way to revisit books. Although I do listen to new books that way, I can tend to miss something from them if I can’t hit the replay button (like when I am driving or cooking). But that’s not so much an issue with a familiar book. Plus by listening I don’t feel like the old book, especially if it is an old, longer classic, is monopolizing so much of my reading time. And hearing it read can bring out facets I may have missed in my own reading.
Here is a list I made a few years ago of books I have reread and would like to reread. I’m happy to say I have reread many from the latter list since then, most via audiobook.