Friday, January 28, 2011

One of the most important questions for a reader..

 To reread or not to reread?

I touched on this question  on my (Jamie's) personal blog in my Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down feature but I really wanted to really discuss it further with all of you.

When I was a child I used to reread all my favorite books without restraint. I never thought, " There are too many books and too little time" or "I have to beat my "Books Read" count from last year." Those thoughts were never present in my mind. So I would settle down with The Giver, Little House on the Prairie or one of my favorite Sweet Valley High books for the 10th time and get lost in the story and reunite with my dear old friends in these books.

Now, here I am, at age 25 and I worry about how I'm going to read all the books I want to read and how I'm going to read 100 books in a year. I'm so focused on reading MORE that I rarely let myself reread those books I've deemed my favorites in fear that I'll miss out on all the other books in the world. Don't get me wrong, I love having that experience of reading a book I've never read before and discovering new favorites but I need to allow myself to reread all my old favorites or a book that really meant something to me without feeling guilty. I love seeing details I didn't catch the first time around in a book because I was too busy thinking about the plot. I really do believe rereading makes the life of a reader richer. I think I'm going to challenge myself to reread at least 2 books this year and NOT feel guilty about it despite the glaring pile of books that I've never read making their presence known in my room.
 

Anyone else struggle with this? Do you reread, and if so, how often would you say you reread? Is it just one or two favorites you reread or many books?

45 comments :

  1. You raise an interesting question. I don't worry about trying to read all the books I have on my TBR list -- there are way too many. What I focus on are trying to find books I'm going to enjoy, and enjoying the books I read. I am a re-reader, and I visit some books as "comfort reads" from time to time -- I read these when the last few books haven't been that great, or just when I want a book where I know the characters, and know the story, and want to revisit. So, I guess I'd say -- don't worry about reading MORE -- just focus on enjoying reading. Hopefully, that makes sense. :)

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  2. I talked about this a bit on my blog, but I'm dedicating 2011 as the year of the re-read for me. I've already re-read so many favorites and have many more to read. Once again I'm finding myself lost in PEI with Anne of Green Gables, mooning over Mr. Darcy and going on high adventures with Buttercup and her Wesley.

    I think re-reading is important. I believe it's C.S. Lewis that said for every book read you should re-read another.

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  3. I do re-read and I LOVE re-reading, but I find since I started my blog I'm more hesitant to re-read. I just changed that a bit, and re-read 3 favourites from my shelves. I think I get so caught up in thinking "I need to post a review for this one and then that one" that I get stressed about having enough time to re-read. But that's silly, because if I want to re-read, I should. So I'm going to make an effort to do more of it when I feel like it.

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  4. I consistently struggle with this. I re-read my old books all the time way back when, but I find I have so many books that I need to review these days that I simply don't have the time to re-read them! It's insane, but one of these days I'll re-read all my new favourites, too :)

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  5. I can't tell you how many times I've re-read the Twilight series (books 1-3 anyway lol). I was beyond addicted to that story. I re-read The Mortal Instruments series right before Clockwork Angel came out last summer. Even though it was going to be a new story, with new characters, I still wanted to revisit that world. I've also read The Duff more than once, as well as Two-way Street. For some reason there's certain books that are like movies to me. I just want to keep watching them! haha I have so much on my plate right now with books that I am unable to do any re-reads. However, when Delirium comes out next month I REALLY want to re-read that one :-)

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  6. I am definitely in the same boat you are, Jamie. I have a bunch of books in my collection that I would love to reread, but feel like I will never have the time with all of the "new" books I want to read. I do think rereading a book should count in our 100-books-a-year tally, though... I mean, we've still read a book, right? I really need to take the time this year to reread a few of my favorites.

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  7. I am definitely a re-reader. I probably re-read about 10-20 books in a given year. While I have a few that I dig in to every few years, I re-read kind of randomly. Whatever strikes my fancy as I look at the shelves. Always remember - reading is for fun. Read what you want, when you want.

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  8. I struggle with this too! I have so many books that I have bought that are sitting on the shelf and I have never cracked the spine. Thinking about how good that new book might be keeps me from rereading books I already know I love. I think I am just going to try and work on finding a balance, maybe 1 reread a month. Even that is easier said than done though!

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  9. This is a great topic. As I move through my list, I'm finding more I want to read -- and PLENTY I want to rme wondering: what's more important? absorbing the work, or getting through it so I can read as many new titles as possible?

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  10. Sorry, my keyboard skipped some words above, and I forgot to edit before posting. My point, though, is that we'll either miss out on new titles, or miss out on nuances, depending on how we choose to read. Which is a greater loss?

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  11. I was just thinking about this last week when Shadowfever was released. I wanted to at LEAST read Dreamfever because it had been 15 mths that I hadn't read it and there are so many details that were fuzzy to me. I didn't get to finish because I *had* to start Shadowfever (I mean i waited 15 months after all ;)) Anyways, the thing is, I went on a long hiatus from reading throughout my college years (just didn't have enough time) and now I really want to catch up on lots good stuff. Hence why my blog is called "So Many Books, So Little Time" because there are just not enough hours! I have over 280 books on my TBR and have only read 81 of them. So yeah, I feel guilty when I feel like re-reading...

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  12. I definitely re-read my favorite books, mostly because I enjoy them so much and marvel that they still cause such excitement in me after a zillion reads. I have worked on freeing myself up lately and believing that it doesn't matter how much I read, but it matters that I am having a pleasurable experience. I have read far fewer pages, but I am happier about it, if that makes any sense :)

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  13. This is a good and thought provoking dilemma. As I grew older, I wanted to read so many books, I hardly re-read any (the exceptions being The Stand and Swan Song). There are just so many book I want to read. But you have a good point. If those favorite books were so enjoyable, why not let yourself enjoy a second time. Maybe one of these days...

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  14. This may sting a little, but I'm going to tell you the truth: there are millions of books. Even if you spent every minute of every day reading, you would never be able to read all the books you want. It's just not possible. What's more important is that you enjoy reading what you can read. Add books to your TBR list all you want, but don't freak out when you can't ever read them all.

    I re-read books fairly often. But I re-read books that had a great impact on the me the first time around -- if they mean that much to you, read your favorites again. It's like sitting down with an old friend.

    I dislike challenges like "Read 100 books in a year," because I believe that the purpose of reading is reading. Having a challenge like that takes the focus from reading and puts it on finishing, and that's not the point.

    If I had to choose between reading 10 books that mean something to me, and 100 that may or may not, I'd choose the 10. Just my two cents. Either way, never feel guilty about what you read -- it's your choice! :D

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  15. I also need to try and reread books...I can't even remember that last time I've actually done it, it may have been Twilight. Anyway, I will also try and re-read a few books this year, thanks for posting about this! :) And thank you Jamie for saying you like me better than the Real World Jacinda!

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  16. I do have problems with this. I really love to re-read, but I almost always feel guilty when I do, as if all the books that I haven't read are sitting on my shelves glaring at me...

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  17. I struggle with this a lot. I have been wanting to reread Harry Potter every since I read the final book almost three years ago. But, books I haven't read keep cropping up on my list and since I have over 900 books on my to read list, what do I do? Right now because I'm in school and work full-time, I just don't have the time to read as much as I normally do. So, I've put off rereading for now. But, once I get my time back after I graduate, I plan to do a balance of reading new books and rereading my favorites.

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  18. I think that's a realistic goal. One or two - I would even go three or four - if I wanted to. Recently I've decided to read Ender's Game again. (maybe a few more in the series.) Most of what I re-read is stuff I read A LONG time ago. Another reason is because I want to read the entire series. I recently re-read all the Harry Potters IN A ROW. I didn't have to wait a year between each book. That was a GREAT reason to re-read. Lots of good reasons to re-read. Shouldn't be any guilt about that.

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  19. I'm 26 and started struggling with this after college. I used to indulge in lots of re-reading and now I rarely do. I have the same fear of missing out on new books and worrying about what I won't have time to read, instead of enjoying what I'm reading. I don't know the answer, but I'm going to try to re-read a few favorites and just accept that I can't read everything this year.

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  20. There's a few go-to books that I'll pick up time and again as comfort reads but for the most part I rarely reread books.

    Of course, there's a really funny article on this topic about the phenomena of rereading something that you loved as a child and having it be not nearly as good as you recalled. I can't remember if I pointed you toward this link on your personal blog, but it's worth checking out (and giggling at). My apologies to anyone offended by the title:
    http://www.tor.com/blogs/2010/09/the-suck-fairy

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  21. I've only struggled with this since I started blogging. I find myself worrying about what I 'should' be reading, and I don't like I have the time to give to a reread, which makes me sad because, really, there is nothing better than sitting down to reread Where the Red Fern Grows for the 53rd time...

    I've made it a goal this year to finally revisit and reread those old favorites that I gaze longingly at every time I see them, but must skip over in favor of the next book I 'should' be reading.

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  22. this is a very fundamental question-related to it is the question is it better to really understand one book or partially understand 50 of them?

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  23. I think being a good and active reader means rereading things. I am sensing the importance in this more and more as I check titles off my list. I know that almost all of the classics I have read so far will be reread again and again in the future. I have not gotten all I need from them yet and perhaps on future reads I will.

    I think we all get too caught up in what is coming out and what we haven't yet discovered. I figure that the book will still be there when it is time for me to read it. That doesn't mean that the little voice in my head saying, "Hurry! You need to read MORE" goes away. It is probably stronger now.

    But I have learned to pick books to read very carefully. Would I rather waste time on some fluff I won't remember a month from now? Or immerse myself in something that will stay with me for a lifetime?

    That is not to say that I don't read and reread things I call "fluff," but that I am careful how many I do read.

    Reading helps give me meaning. And rereading books gives me deeper meaning. So I am all for it. :)

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  24. I ALWAYS re-read a Cormac McCarthy book, because I find stuff I missed on the first read. Other than that I seldom re-read. The exception is when I've had a string of stinkers, then I'll re-read a loved book.

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  25. As long as my TBR list is I always make time for re-reading.
    It is hard, but if I really loved the book (which are pretty much any books I keep after reading them) I'll put it on my list. Probably won't be right away, but it will happen.
    It's really nice to visit an old book when my review pile is stressing me out and I need a break.

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  26. I've always enjoyed rereading books as long as I remember. And if the mood strikes me I'll dig out the book I feel like I want to reread and spend some time with it. I think I do this because I know it won't take long to read, and I can always put it down or even back on the bookshelf because I know what happens in the end :)

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  27. Looks like I'm in the minority, as I rarely reread books. I try to reread my favorite Neil Gaiman books once a year, but that's it. Too many new favorites to discover out there!

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  28. I love rereading. Not everything, of course. Some things don't really merit reread for me. But there are some books that I'll read every few years, or even on a yearly basis, and there are times when a book strikes me so strongly that I absolutely must reread it right after finishing it. Sometimes more than once. It's not unusual for me to read the same book four or five times in a row, and if I try to force myself not to do this, to read something else instead, I'm dissatisfied with everything else I pick up.

    I actually wrote a long defense of rereading post up last fall. Its here if you'd like to read it: http://zenleaf.amandagignac.com/2010/09/sunday-salon-in-defense-of-rereading.html

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  29. I don't reread often, but I do have some books that I just love. I try to reread a couple of my favorite books every year. The Great Gatsby and Water For Elephants are among them.
    But most of what I read are things that I've never read before. One of my habit is to read the new releases of some of my favorite authors. That's almost like a reread, I suppose.

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  30. OK, I read over comments and I think I may be the first to suggest this...

    Why can't you count re-reads towards your total book-read goal? My goal this year is to read 100 books, but I include re-read in that for 3 reasons;
    ~I usually get something new out of the re-read experience.
    ~Whether it's a re-read or not, it's time reading, and it's a book read.
    ~It didn't even ever occur to me not to count re-reads. If it's a book, and I read it during a given year, it counts.

    I understand the guilt of re-reading, because there's a MILLION books out there that I can't wait to read... but not re-reading books is like not re-watching your favorite movies, just because you've seen them already.

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  31. This post made me think long and hard. Before I decided to read at least 50 books a year, I used to reread my favorites like Pride and Prejudice and To Kill a Mockingbird a lot. I got caught up in the flurry of book acquisition, and, as a result, my to-be-read pile is now quite formidable. I haven't reread a book in a long time, just to savor it, and I think I should go back to rereading my favorites this year.

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  32. i love rereading, but i have to admit that i'm kind of baffled by why this is a question at all. whether someone likes to reread or not is a matter of preference, just like the types of books they read in the first place. if you are reading with a string of goals (to read 100 books in a year, to complete certain challenges, to reread at least 2 books, whatever), are you even reading for fun anymore? rereading should come about naturally; if you want to pick a book up for a first time, or a second or third or fourth, you should. why overthink it or worry about how it will impact some carefully defined reading goals? reading isn't about reaching some sort of finish line; it's about reading books that you love, or might end up loving.

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  33. Ellen: I'm not asking the question because I think there is a right or wrong answer..I'm asking because I am curious about how often people reread and how it fits into their overall reading experience. I'm curious about others preferences.

    Reading still is fun for me or else I wouldn't be doing it. I guess this post came from a realization that I am focused on these reading goals and blogging goals these days and I want to get back to a place of rereading when I so desire which is a hard thing to balance as a book blogger. I want to find out what works for me.

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  34. I re-read books whenever I need the comfort of an old friend or whenever I think the book has a message that I would find useful at the time. For example I read "Still Life with Woodpecker" whenever I am feeling disillusioned by love and need something to remind me that it does exist just not in the movie sort of way. I have also started re-reading some books that I don't think I fully appreciated the first time, usually because I was forced to read it for school and therefor hated it. I do feel a little guilty for ignoring my TBR but I know they will wait for me.

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  35. It's weird how you can feel guilt over re-reading a book when it really shouldn't matter, but I'm the same. I don't want to re-read books because I feel bad when I think about all the books I haven't read yet. There's so many books to read how can we ever keep up!

    Then I have a think about it and realise that we'll never keep up because there are far more books out there than a person can read in a lifetime, no matter how fast they read or how much in a year. It's a nice thought to always read new books and read more, but I think some of us exhaust ourselves for no reason and probably enjoy reading less because of it.

    I do re-read books that are part of a series because I forget the storyline otherwise, but that's it. I have been wanting to re-read so many books, but am struggling at the moment because of all the challenges I'm taking part in so I'm going to re-read them after I've gotten the bulk of that out of the way and relax a bit. I really want to re-read those books.

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  36. I do reread some of my favorite books on occasion (generally when I can't decide what I want to read next) and I love it! I also enjoy rereading the childrens books I read when I was younger. They are generally quick easy reads that bring back memories of when choosing books was a lot easier.

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  37. I used to reread all the time as a child and teen. As an adult I would reread Pride and Prejudice and The Lord of the Rings every year. When I started blogging last year however, I quit rereading (except for the Harry Potter books and a couple of other exceptions) and mostly read new books. This year I've signed up for so many reading challenges that I don't think I'll have time to reread and keep up with things.

    I should have joined or started a "rereading challenge"! Good thought provoking post. I do need to reread more, especially books I own.

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  38. I haven't been able to re-read in quite a while because of my ever-growing TBR pile but I'd like to do it more. I don't have a lot of books that I keep around after I read so the ones that I do are definitely worth the re-read. Hopefully some day I'll be able to get back to them.

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  39. Great post! This is the question that we bloggers (especially) deal with on a daily basis in one way or another. Sometimes it's the reason behind those review opportunities we turn down too. Rereads are great. We get to spend time with characters we know and love ...yet despite the fact we know how it ends up, you always manage to glean something new with each reread of a title. Do I get to do it as often as I'd like? *glances at Mount TBR* Nope....but it doesn't mean I'm gonna let it stop altogether either. Might have to make a challenge of it to myself as well. Thanks for the inspiration. Happy (re)reading! ^_^

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  40. I used to have about 10 books I reread almost every year for about 15 years. They were books by Terry Pratchett, L.M. Montgomery, James Herriott and Tolkien.

    I am doing less rereading these days, and the books have changed. I realised at some point that rereading two or more books one after the other was a sign I was plunging into depression, because I was seeking comfort from them. Reading new books is one of the things that helps keep the dark clouds of depression away.

    Now I usually reread books slowly and may finish several first-time reads in the time it takes me to reread a book. For example, I am now reading one chapter of Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince every night before I go to sleep, and have finished 7 first-time reads since I started reading it.

    The authors I reread most these days are Jennifer Crusie and Terry Pratchett.

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  41. I'm amazed at what an interesting discussion is going on here. I have to say that I most agree with couchpotatocritic. We do have a lifetime to be reading and yet we'll never run out of books. So trying to rush through them without really soaking in all there is to discover seems sad to me. It takes great authors months, even years, to write their novels, so why should we race through them and move on? I think in great literature, we cannot grasp everything in the first reading and must reread or heavily discuss and study in order to come to a fuller understanding of it.

    I hate to self-promote, but I did write a post about The Art of Rereading after having one of these discussions with a friend. If you're interested in my more in-depth thoughts, you can find it on the link below. Thanks for starting this discussion!

    http://thelitquest.blogspot.com/2010/09/art-of-rereading.html

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  42. Hey, we're the same age! (just had to throw that out there)
    Anyway, I used to reread all the time as well, but I find myself wanting to, but never letting myself anymore. There are just so many new books I need to get to!
    I do allow myself to reread some books by picking up ones I think my 7 year old would enjoy and reading a chapter a night to him.
    I'm working on the Harry Potter series with him now. I think I will do Chronicles of Narnia next :)

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  43. I have the same conundrum. There are a few series I absolutely love, but haven't 'found time' to pick them up again. I often re-read series leading up to a new release, just to reacquaint myself with the characters and what's happened so far, but just picking up books I've read on a whim? I feel guilty about not giving the new books a try.

    Since my goal for this year is to read as many unread books (that I own) as I can, perhaps next year I'll try a rereading challenge.

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  44. I'm with you on this one. I have so many books to read, so little time!!!

    I have to get them all in before I die, and people keep publishing new books! It's like I'll never get caught up.

    Honestly, while I was in college, I rarely got to read for pleasure. Now I'm trying to catch up. *sigh* That's kind of why I started a book blog- so I could keep track of everything and could re-read what I wrote to remember them.

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