Last week I wrote a blog post: 12 Reasons Spoilers Are the Worst. I think spoilers can ruin an experience because you can only read something for the first time once.
Saying spoilers are the worst but rereading is the best might seem contradictory, but it’s not. Reading something for the first time and reading something for the second time (or the fiftieth time) are completely different experiences.
Here’s why I say rereading is the best:
- Because I already know what’s going to happen, I can read at a more leisurely pace, luxuriating in the story. The first time through, I often race to get to the end as quickly as possible.
- It’s fun spotting details that foreshadowed what was going to happen. When I catch them on the first read-through, it makes me feel smart. But because I read pretty quickly, I do often miss details that I catch the second time through.
- It’s like visiting an old friend. Because I know my friends so well, we often repeat stories, but it’s still fun to hear them (or tell them) again and again. Because even though we lived it and we know how it ends, reliving the journey brings it all back. Rereading a beloved book is like that.
- When life is stressful, I don’t want any surprises. There are many times I have high hopes for a book and it turns out to be a disappointment. When I’m stressed out, I don’t want that. I want to turn to something I know won’t let me down.
- I can appreciate the author’s skill. This didn’t used to be a reason for me to reread, but the more I write, the more I can see when an author executes a book skillfully, and then also less than skillfully. It’s delightful to study a beloved book for how the author made it awesome. (Though frankly, the answer to this is often “magic.”)
- If a sequel I’m excited about is coming out, rereading refreshes all those details. I got on board with Harry Potter after The Goblet of Fire. From then on, when a new book was coming out, it was so much fun to read each of the books that came before so that I was fresh from reading them for the sequels. It got me even more excited for the sequels. I’ve done this with other books too, like This Savage Song/ Our Dark Duet.
- To study a specific aspect of writing. There are times when I’ll be like, “I really need help putting more emotion on the page… who does that well?” And then I’ll seek out a book that moved me to study how it was done. (Again, usually, it’s magic.)
- Reading in tandem is fun. If a friend is reading a book I love, I’ll often reread that book so that when we discuss it (and we will discuss it), it’s fresh in my mind. There’s nothing I love more than sharing the worlds I enjoy.
- I want to refresh some kind of lesson/ learning. I reread Pollyanna almost every year. I try to live by the central idea of that book, that there’s always a reason to be glad. I also reread some of my favorite writing books. Recently, I reread Big Magic because I felt like I needed a reminder that creativity wants to come out and play with me, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.
- Sometimes I can’t afford the distraction that a new book would be. When I enjoy a book, I literally can’t put it down. Adulting gets put on hold. I read and read until I finish. There are times when I want to read for 15 minutes or a half hour, and I can’t afford to go past that. That’s when it works to pick up a book I’ve read so that it’s not so hard to get on with adulting.
- It’s relaxing. There’s not the same anticipation that there was with reading a book for the first time, so I can just enjoy it.
All that being said, there are some books that if I could magically forget what happened so I could go back and experience it again for the first time, I absolutely would! Since that isn’t possible (yet), rereading it is as close as I’m going to get.
What book(s) do you love to reread?