Re-reading your favorite books: Yes or no?

library

So many books, so little time. *sighs* Library image courtesy of mantasmagorical, Morguefile.

I read a comment somewhere where somebody said that they only read a book once, and then never again because there were just too many books in the world to read the same thing over again.

For me, that depends on the book and how much I like it. I’ll re-read books by my favorite authors such as Mark Twain, Nora Roberts, J.D. Robb, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jane Austen because they are so deft with words and creating imaginary worlds. Reading those books again is a comforting ritual, like relaxing in front of a crackling fire on a winter’s day. It is so easy to slide into the worlds they create.

For other books, I only need to read them once. For genres like biographies or factual books about this topic or that, reading it once is pretty much all you need because you’ve gleaned what you need to know anyway.

Some books I like to re-read in order to get into a holiday spirit. Halloween is coming up in a few more weeks; one way I like to get ready for that is to read Nora Roberts’ spooky Sign of Seven trilogy (Blood Brothers, The Hollow and The Pagan Stone). The other ways are — what else? — chocolate candy (mmmmm!) and putting out my fall decorations like my group of three ceramic pumpkins with insanely cheerful grins (I call them my “giggle pumpkins” because they look so happy).

And yep, there’s the Christmas-themed books too. I’ve got to read those during Christmas and watch my favorite Christmas movies such as “A Season for Miracles” or “White Christmas”. Like I said, a familiar ritual.

Other books are so dense with plots and characters, it’s an accomplishment just to finish the book and it would take major bribery (I would demand at least three Snickers bars — I have standards, you know!) to go back and read them. I’m thinking Thackeray’s Vanity Fair and Tolstoy’s War and Peace here. With those books, you really need the Cliff Notes just to figure out what the heck is going on.

Blog readers, do you ever read a book more than once? Or it a case of “one and done”? Let’s chat below.

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39 Comments

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39 responses to “Re-reading your favorite books: Yes or no?

  1. Like you said, it depends on the book! My favourite I’ll happily reread, novels like Dickens and Fitzgerald, etc…but holiday reads and chick-lit I can’t read again, I don’t know why but I think there isn’t anything to read into ‘easy’ reading, whereas Dickens has so much meaning you can almost interpret it in a different way every time

  2. Yes. I’ve reread Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge twice and Junot Diaz’s The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar War thrice. Why? For the story and the writing. The second time I read a book, I pay close attention to the style.

  3. Have to admit I’ve never reread books of the season – well, ok, maybe Poe. But I do enjoy revisiting some of the classics simply to relish in the lovely language and rich vocabulary. In some of those, no matter how many times you read, there’s always something to be discovered about a character, or a setting, or some foreshadowing you missed before. Great for bad weather and dark days

  4. I have books I put in my favorites folder on my kindle and I’ll reread them whenever I need a fix of a good dose of story. There are times when I read a bunch of new books and none of them resonate with me. That’s when I turn to old favorites to reread. But I’m with you–some books (maybe most books) I can only read once. When I’m super sad to finish a book because I was carried away by the setting, character or plot…that’s when I know I’ll probably reread it again.

  5. I read Nancy Mitford’s Love in a cold climate and In the pursuit of love every few years and enjoy them every time.

  6. travelrat

    I just about know Arthur C Clarke’s ‘The Hammer of God’ off by heart! I like to re-read anything that’s set somewhere I’m going in the near future … my ‘read’ at the moment is Bill Bryson’s ‘Down Under’ … and I’ll maybe re-read Robyn Davidson’s ‘Tracks’ next … although we aren’t going to be that extreme!

  7. Most of the time I just read a book once. I have enough trouble finishing the books on my to-read list to go back to older titles. The one books I’ve re-read are probably the Harry Potter ones, but those are extremely dear to me.

  8. There was a 5 year period when I would reread some books every year – Chuck Yeager – the autobiography, The Right Stuff, Leaving Les Vegas and Liar’s Poker. Other books I have read once but still vividly remember them.

  9. As most of your commenters said, it depends on the book. Some books are like comfort food. When things are down and I’m sad I have a stash of books that give me huge belly laughs.

  10. I have taken to re-reading books I read over twenty years ago just to see if my perspective has changed. I find it often has as my life experience and the fact that I know so much less about everything now than I did then alters my appreciation for what the author was trying to say. I also like to go back to really old Sci-Fi and read about the flying cars and 20 hour work weeks in the year 2000.

  11. I’ll re-read anything I have enjoyed spectacularly, no matter whether it’s fiction, biography or whatever. I will not be re-reading Harry Potter, though! Philip Pullman or E Nesbit, yes.

  12. Yes. I re-read all the time. Books read at an age when I did not have the frame of reference become much more ( or less ) than when I first read them.

    Example: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged at 18 failed to ignite any passion in 35 years later, after 30 years of scars on my back from the workplace, I get it. ( I agree with her, in part… 🙂 )

    Herman Wouk’s The Caine Mutiny, read over one afternoon at age 16 was fascinating. Captain Queeg was a fantastic creature. Read again 25 years later and the dilemma is clearer. Who is really at fault?

    Then there are authors you re-read to savour the language, to get you out of gloom. Like PG Wodehouse, my go-to author, anytime, overtime.

    I’m also writing a fan-fiction, of sorts, based on characters from the books of the much-maligned Enid Blyton.

    • Interesting how one’s perspective on books changes, isn’t it? I used to read this one author — and still do sometimes — but now that I’m older, I recognize her style as overly melodramatic. Still good characters and plots, though.

  13. Jaclyn

    I definitely re-read books! My favorite books are like old friends that I can go back to whenever I need a boost. I do find that I re-read childhood favorites (L.M. Montgomery, Laura Ingalls Wilder) more often than books I’ve discovered and loved more recently. There are a few exceptions but if I’m going to re-read something it’s more likely to be “Anne of Green Gables” than “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” even though I adore Bernadette. (Now I want to re-read Bernadette!)

  14. I enjoy rereading some books – a favorite is “The Great Divorce” by C.S. Lewis. It is short but not necessarily easy. The imagery is something I enjoy considering over and over. I am currently rereading Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. I also love the imagery and allegory in this book. Another book I am glad I read was Victor Hugo’s Les Miserable. I haven’t reread it because it took so long to get through and parts of it were painfully distressing. I like to revisit some books I have read by getting it in an audio version. That way I can enjoy the story again, but get something else accomplished at the same time.

  15. I don’t reread a lot of books, but I have reread Douglas Adams’ stuff several times and probably will again. I reread the whole Harry Dresden series recently, Some non fiction bears multiple readings (for me) when there’s a lot of information to absorb. I also read a LOT on Audible. It really started when I had a long commute, but now my eyes are so tired, it’s a relief to be able to tackle a book without my eyes taking any more strain.

  16. Hell yes! It’s true there are too many books out there, sadly most of them are not worth reading. But the treasures… I can reread them endlessly. There are novels I have reread five times already.

  17. I rarely reread, never got time but on rare occasions it reminds me of who I was when I first read it. Incredible how much more I see as I get older

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