HAPPY OCTOBER, EVERYONE! Ok, so I’m not sure if you’d figured this out yet, but holy crap I love October. I’m so excited it’s here & cannot wait for Halloween (except that whole “I really need to start working on my costume” thing). Anyway, I’m feeling refreshed and totally energized by the prospect of a new month and a new season, and my trip to the salon a couple weeks ago definitely helped things, as well! Clearly, I’m feeling like rambling because of all the excitement. I haven’t had that much caffeine yet today, I swear!
Today I wanted to talk about revisiting/re-reading books. I’ve only read a handful of books more than once (children’s books excluded), and I was thinking this morning – since I just finished re-reading Heir of Fire & have moved on to re-read Queen of Shadows – about which books I have chosen to devote more of my time to than others, and why.
Similarly to re-watching movies over and over again, re-reading a book gives you new insight to the story. You pick up on things you didn’t notice the first time around and you put the pieces together in the way the author intended, rather than the way your brain decides to piece it all together before the author comes out & explains it (did that even make sense?). Let me try again: I love using an author’s foreshadowing & tiny clues to try and figure out the twists and secrets before they are revealed later in the story. At the same time, by doing that, I miss out on just experiencing the story and taking time to really connect with the characters. On a second (or third, or fourth) read-through, you know where the story is going & you can just marvel at the way the author brings the narrative together.
The obvious difference between re-watching a film and re-reading a book, though, is time commitment. I’m not a very fast reader, so reading a book multiple times really is a commitment & takes away from the time I could spend reading new books (and putting the tiniest of dents into my To Be Read list, you feel?). So, what makes a book re-readable for me, personally?
- FEELS. This is the primary reason I will re-read a book. If it makes me feel strongly – any emotion, really, but just resonates on an emotional level? It’s definitely worth reading again. This is basically the first criteria for whether or not I’ll take the time to revisit a book. If I didn’t feel anything for it, why bother, right?
- BEAUTY. I am a sucker for poignant books with beautiful language or beautiful settings. I have read The Great Gatsby more times than any other book (I think I’m sitting around 5 or 6) because it is just so beautiful to me. Tragic, of course. But beautiful. I’m certain that as my experience with classic novels grows, there will be a few more that I add to this list. I’ve also re-read the book The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant three times since the first time I read it. That book is like soul food for anyone obsessed with Renaissance-era art history.
- SEQUELS. So series are a huge thing right now, obviously. Seems like every book you pick up these days is part of some series or another, and finding stand-alone novels can really be a daunting task. What about that feeling when you finish a book that you didn’t KNOW was in a series and then you have to wait a year (or more) for the next installment? That might be one of the worst feelings. By the time that next book is released, you’ve likely forgotten some of the key points of its predecessor, and a re-read would help pull you back into the world and better understand what is happening in your new book.
- ADAPTATIONS. This is one I haven’t really experienced yet, but would definitely qualify as a reason to re-read something. In a time when Film/TV adaptations of best-selling books seem to be the norm, it’s likely that one of your favorite book series is going to be adapted at some point. Now, my previous exprience has just been to read books once the adaptation is already nearing completion, so it’s not a re-read scenario, obviously. But The Selection and Throne of Glass series have both been optioned recently for adaptations, and you can rest assured I will be re-reading if/when those projects reach completion.
- NOSTALGIA. There are always those books you read when you are young that stick with you because they resonate on some level or are really integral to developing the person you choose to become. I started a Harry Potter re-read this year for that very reason. It’s a series I love desperately, that had a huge impact on me as a teenager (obviously I’m not alone in this), but I haven’t read the books since Deathly Hallows was released. Another great example of this for me is Ella Enchated by Gail Carson Levine. I adored that book the first time I read it & it may have been the book that really cemented a love of reading in me. I have re-read it a few times over the years, but I’m actually probably due for a another read-through soon.
I mean it when I say I don’t have many books on my re-read shelf. It really takes a hugely emotional connection to a book before I’ll consider spending extra hours on it. Because, why would I when a new favorite could be next on my TBR pile?
Here’s a look at every book I can remember reading more than once. Again, excluding children’s books & beginning at about mid-grade level:
Fun fact: Twilight should technically also be on this list, but I didn’t include it because the only reason I’ve read it more than once is that I completely forgot I had read it the first time. I don’t know if that’s on me or Stephanie Meyer, but apparently it really didn’t resonate that much the first time through.
So, how about you? Do you tend to read books once and move on, or do you re-visit old favorites? How do you choose? I’d love to hear from you!
Until Next Time ❤