This past week I’ve been thinking about re-reading books more than usual. What with the The Remains of the Day reread with Random House Canada (#RemainsReRead), and my insistence that David Mitchell’s new novel The Bone Clocks is a book that begs to be re-read, it seems to have been a theme on my blog lately.
This prompted me to wonder: why do we re-read certain books and not others? For me, whether I re-read a book depends on mainly two things. One, I will re-read a book if absolutely loved the story. Maybe its ideas really resonated with me, or the characters were so wonderful that they feel like old friends (hello, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Neville, Luna, Fred, George…you get the picture), or maybe it just has the magical ability to transport me into a different world, space, or time that feels extremely cathartic. If I finish the book feeling sad that I have to say goodbye to it, I will almost always add it to my mental “revisit later” list. Second, I will re-read a book if it holds sentimental value to me. Maybe I read the book at just the right time and it left a strong impression, or maybe I got the book as a graduation gift or a “pick me up” book after a rough time. If I have strong feelings linked to a book, I am more likely to pick it up again and read it for nostalgic purposes. Sometimes a book will combine reasons one and two – those books I am pretty much guaranteed to re-read. What makes a book re-readable to you?
Now, I don’t want to assume that everyone re-reads books because I’ve definitely come across readers that never re-read books, even if they loved a book the first time they read it. One of the main reasons for this, according to what I’ve heard, is time. There are so many new releases coming out each week that the reader doesn’t want to spend extra time on the same book. Being a sentimental person with a long TBR list I can see both sides, but eventually my attachment with some of my “re-readable” books wins out. There’s just something special about revisiting an old story and reconnecting with it. Plus, some books are so layered and intricate that you can always find something new within the pages, whether it be a detail you missed or a new angle you’ve never examined before, so I think that keeps a freshness to it too.
So, let me ask you: Do you re-read books? Why or why not? If you do, how do you determine whether a book is “re-readable” or not? As always, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!