Weekend Reads is a post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I’m currently reading. (I haven’t done it in a while but… anyway.)
For this week, I’m participating in the Let’s Talk Bookish meme hosted by Eternity Books and the Literary Lion. A discussion topic is given each week for participants to post about. This week’s topic is…
How many times is enough? Why re-read at all? Is re-reading just a comforting pastime? Or is there excitement to be relived? What kind of books do you re-read? Do you ever re-read books you don’t like in hopes that it will be better the second time? Were there any books you didn’t like as a child but liked as an adult, or vice versa?
I think anyone who knows me as a reader is aware that I love to reread books. Actually, I tend to reread so often that for a while in college, I spent my time mostly rereading books rather than discovering new authors and stories. There are many reasons why I reread, but the top ones are:
To see if I have changed
I love revisiting things I’ve consumed before to see if my opinion about them have changed. I think this is an interesting way to assess how much you have grown or in what ways your opinions and perspective of the world have developed over time. Of course, this works best if you can recall something of your reading experience and thoughts about the work when you first experienced it so you can compare the experiences after you reread.
A book I’d love to do this with is Rasputin’s Daughter By Robert Alexander, a historical fiction novel I devoured when I was high school. I was fascinated by the mad monk and hooked on this book about him through the perspective of his daughter. I wonder if the book will be just as engrossing if I should read it now.
That certainly wasn’t the case when I reread a childhood favorite — The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton, a middle grade fantasy novel. It’s one of the books that got me hooked on the fantasy genre as a kid, and I adored the stories. But when I reread it a couple years ago, I found them too silly to enjoy and was mostly frustrated as I read.
However, more recently I reread about two of the books in Robin Hobb’s Rain Wild Chronicles, basically an epic fantasy road trip except it’s set on an acidic river up which dragon keepers are sailing to find a new settling ground for the dragons they care for. I love Hobb’s books, but I like this set the least and that’s because of the main character perspective we read from — Thymara, who greatly annoyed me and who I had little patience for on my first read. But this time, I was much more understanding and considerate of her. I think that’s due to what I’ve learned and experienced since my first encounter with the book, but also because I know the story and know what Thymara has experienced. Knowing that softened me some toward her.
To revisit something I enjoy — for comfort
This is my top reason for rereading — and why I’ve reread the Harry Potter books so many times. I enjoy re-experiencing stories I love. Partly, it’s an attempt to try to recapture the emotions I felt when I first encountered the work. I want to feel the awe and excitement and anticipation again, and sometimes that happens — usually when I’m rereading the book for the first time. At such times, it’s as if I am reading it for the first time.
Books I’m looking forward to having this experience with are The Shape of Water by Daniel Kraus and Guillermo del Toro and Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. In addition to them being gripping, fantastic stories, they are both well written with prose that I greatly admire and would love to sample again. That would be comforting for me. Plus, I’d like to see if I’ll love them on reread as much as I did my first time through.
When it comes to rereading for comfort, there are some stories I’ve reread so many times that I’ve lost count. The top one of such stories are the Harry Potter books. I reread them whenever the mood strikes, or if the weather gets cold, or if life is too stressful, or if I just need something to listen to while doing my hair. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve stopped keeping track of the amount of times I’ve reread them (unless, of course, I read an interesting new edition, like the MinaLima illustrated ones). But despite having reread them too many times to the point where I’ve memorized entire sections so the story is no longer new to me, I still gain some entertainment from them. And although they may not be as exciting anymore, that’s not a bother because now I turn to them more for comfort. (They still manage to keep my attention, though, and I still get excited about certain parts.)
To give a book a second chance
I also sometimes reread to give a book a second chance — although I don’t do that much these days. Sometimes I dislike a book because I read it at the wrong time. Maybe I was in a funky mood and didn’t vibe with the story, or for some reason I couldn’t connect with the work to understand it. Other times, I just plain didn’t like story. Sometimes out of curiosity, I’ll revisit the story, and sometimes the story sticks with me, although I didn’t like it, and I feel urged to revisit it.
Although it’s now one of my favorite classics, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was one of my most hated books when I was in high school. It was required reading, and I found the story to be a huge bore. It wasn’t until I reread the story on my own years later, shortly after the movie came out, that I developed a love for it because I admired the prose. I now wonder if I’ll have a similar experience with William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, another book that was required reading in high school that I hated.
I must mention that at times I have tried giving books a second chance, but my reread was just as bad as my first read. That happened with Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. No matter how many times I try rereading that book, I’m never able to see what others love so much about it. I prefer the movies.
To refresh my memory of the work
The last of my top reasons is to refresh my memory. This mostly goes for fantasy series because it takes me forever to complete them, and I often take long breaks from doing so. I’d love to one day just read a series straight through, back to back to back, on my own. So far, I’ve only managed to do that on buddy-reads, which help to keep me focused.
Apart from rereading for comfort, this is the next top reason for my rereads. I’ve reread the first couple books of the Wheel of Time series MANY times in hopes of making progress on the sixth book Lord of Chaos, but that hasn’t happened yet. (I really should just give up.)
I’ve also reread the first three or four books in the Song of Ice and Fire series MANY times to make some progress on A Dance With Dragons, but as the series is unfinished and the next couple books aren’t forthcoming, I haven’t been motivated to complete A Dance With Dragons. However, this is a series I love and enjoy rereading. So far, every time I revisit it feels like a first read. There are so many characters and details, and I always notice something new whenever I revisit the story (one of my favorite things about rereading).
I didn’t plan for this to be so long, but I really do enjoy rereading books and get excited about doing so. Despite knowing how things will turn out, I still get a thrill from the books I revisit and still feel the anticipation at certain scenes.
These days, I’ve taken to using audiobooks for my rereads. I like audiobooks, but it’s not my preferred way to read, and it’s sometimes hard for me to pay attention and not daydream through the whole thing, so rereading via audio gives me a new way of experiencing the story while enabling me to not be too bothered if I miss certain details whilst daydreaming because, guess what, I already know what happens!
WHAT I’M CURRENTLY READING
Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey
I’m currently buddy-reading this with Millie at Milliebot Reads. Its pace is slow and I’m reading slowly, not a good combo. So far, it’s a lot of rehashing of what happened in the previous two books. Meli just entered the story with a letter, so I guess Phedre will go running to her in a few pages.
World of Warcraft Chronicle, Vol. 1 by Blizzard Entertainment
Since watching the movie years ago, I’ve been curious about this game, so I decided to check out the gaming book. It’s interesting.