On Saturday Jesse blogged about watching movies over and over. It made me think about books I loved to read over and over (and over). With so many new books released each month and so little reading time, I sometimes feel guilty about re-reading books I’ve already read several times. But then I read an article titled “Re-Reading: The Ultimate Guilty Pleasure,” and I thought, yes, exactly!

The article looked at why readers re-read. One of the reasons that really struck home to me was the “security blanket” reason. There are some books I come back to over and over again because they make me feel happy or lift my spirits when I’m in a bad mood. My daughter has a blankie, and when she is naughty and gets in trouble, she often runs to her room for a few minutes of quality time with blankie. It soothes her and helps her to feel ready to face the world again. I’d have to say a lot of my Julie Garwood historicals fall into this category.

Shana with Julie Garwood

 

Another reason we re-read, which the article calls “heart of the matter” but which I’m calling time warp, is to remember who we were at the time we first read the book. Whenever I pick up one of the Earth’s Children books from Jean Auel, I remember being in college, because that’s when I first read that series. When I re-read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, I remember my first years of teaching and my trip to Scotland and Culloden. It’s fun to go back and “relive” a previous time in our lives but also bring those books into our present reality too.

Finally, I re-read because I want a “refresher.” A lot of non-fiction books fall into this category. I read them for research but have forgotten details over the passage of time and need to refresh my memory. But I like to refresh fiction too. I re-read my Jane Austen books often just because every time I read Sense and Sensibility or Persuasion, I pick up new details I’ve either forgotten or didn’t catch the first time.

Jane Austen

 

Do you ever re-read books? Which are your go-to books?

 

 


35 thoughts on “The Art of Re-Reading

  1. Donna says:

    I re-read Twilight eight times. I started reading regularly when that book came out. I really enjoyed the book. I fell in love with reading and didn’t know which books I would like to read. Once I had the guidance of other readers, I was able to move on to more wonderful books. Now I have found so many wonderful authors, there just isn’t enough time in a day to read them all!

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Donna, it seems there’s always a book like Twilight was for you that just strikes the right chord at the right time, and we learn something new each time we read it!

  2. Gone with the Wind. I’m up to 15 times on that one, and each time, I learn something new about writing, about the Civil War, about people.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Wow! I’ve read it maybe 4 times, and I thought that was a lot. I wrote a paper on it in grad school. That was the last time I read it.

    2. Kathryn in Montreal says:

      One of my favourites too… and something else about re-reading – since the book is already a familiar friend it can be a light, quick read, just enjoyment and re-visiting favourite characters, settings and stories. It’s relaxing not to have to concentrate too much/all the time when reading.

  3. Kathleen Kathleen says:

    So interesting, Shana! I love the way this article breaks down the psychology of re-reading. I do it often, and I might have *sensed* why, but this makes it really clear. My favorite re-read is the Nero Wolfe mystery series by Rex Stout. I was conscious of it being my “soother”–the two main characters feel like true friends. The article you mention offered me a new insight, though. My father, who died when I was in my 20s, loved the series and taught us to appreciate it, so whenever I read it, I feel very connected to him.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      That’s a great observation, Kathleen. My mom used to read me the Chronicles of Narnia, and when I open it, I am reminded of my childhood.

  4. Susan G says:

    Great post!
    I have read Gone With the Wind about 6 times. I find a new element each time I read it.
    Nora Roberts Chesapeake Bay series and the Bride Quartet are my favorite re reads. Just love the characters and settings. I read a lot of Nora when my daughter was younger. Good memories.
    I love Shana’s Lord and Lady Spy. I have read it at least 3 times. Sophia and Adrian’s story is one of my favorites.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Thanks, Sue! I remember those NR series very well too. And thinking of them makes me remember that time in my life. I read the Bride Quartet when my daughter was an infant, and I read the Chesapeake Bay series when I was a teacher and an avid runner.

  5. LSUReader says:

    I used to read Gone With the Wind every few years. I’m overdue on that one. Now, when I reread, it is typically something from Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series. I love that family.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      LSUReader, JQ’s books are always a comfort read!

  6. I’m an avid re-reader! I particularly love revisiting the Georgette Heyer historicals I grew up on; they’re my go-to books whenever I’m tired or feeling blue, or just need a quick trip back to the Regency era.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Ah, Heyer. Yes, I do love to revisit her books too.

  7. Debbie says:

    I have several books I like to reread from time to time. It’s nice to revisit favorite characters and you feel just as good afterwards as you did the first time you discovered them.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      I agree, Debbie. There’s nothing like going back to those characters who have become almost like friends.

  8. Kathryn in Montreal says:

    I re-read all the time; I have many authors that are my go-to for re-reading. My favourite re-reads? The Pillars of the Earth, the Earth’s Children series, Harry Potter, Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series…and many more.

    And I cannot get rid of a book after I’m done, even if I know it’s not going to be a re-read, so I’m running out of space. I just recently invested in an e-reader, after much indecision. I like having a physical book in my hands, but there are quite a lot of books that I’ve bought over the years that I know I am not going to re-read…and since I’m hard pressed to get rid of them, those are going to be the books on my e-reader.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Those are all such great books! I need more time to re-read. Clearly!

  9. Robyn DeHart Robyn DeHart says:

    I’m not much for re-reading, I don’t know why. I did it a lot as a kid, but as an adult, I guess I just feel like there are too many books out there. And I think there’s a part of me that’s afraid I’ll tarnish that first-time opinion of a book. What if I re-read it and it’s not as good as I thought it was?

    The only books i’ve re-read as an adult are the Harry Potter books.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      I’ve actually had that happen, Robyn, so it’s a legitimate concern.

  10. Quilt Lady says:

    I used to reread books but I don’t to often now unless its a series and its been a while since I read the first book and then I will reread just so I can remember what happened.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Quilt Lady, I think a lot of readers do that. They tell me they’re re-reading before the next book in the series comes out. I do it too.

  11. Joanna Moreno says:

    Oh,yes! To be transported to that magic place over and over again. To your safe haven. To your obscure and dark corner that only you know about. I have a ton of new books to read both on my bookshelves and in my ereader but at times I feel a tugging in my heart that says “I need to hear from this or that voice again” so I reach for that special book and I pretend I don’t have any other book to read for at least a few hours. Books by Jane Austen (surprise, surprise!) and lately by Jennifer Ashley do that for me. I highly recommend her books if you have a chance and time for any new books!!

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Great recommendations and re-reads, Joanna. I love how you phrase it– To be transported to that magic place over and over again.

  12. Lisa Hutson says:

    I am a slow reader. So it limits everything.
    I would love to reread so much more than I do.
    But it keeps getting put off. :-(

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      I understand, Lisa. I don’t re-read much lately either.

  13. catslady says:

    I rarely reread books because like you said, there are so many new ones out there. The only time I do is when it’s a series and it’s been so long between books that I need to reread so I can remember what is going on lol. Jean Auel’s Earth Series is a perfect example!

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Love Jean Auel, and her books came out so far apart that you really had to re-read. I felt that way about Mockingjay too.

  14. Great blog, Shana. I’m with Robyn on this one. My TBR pile is too big. Rather than re-reading, I look forward to the author’s next book.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      I think when we read our favorite authors over and again, it’s a bit like re-reading.

  15. Melissa Terry says:

    I don’t do a lot of rereading. I will read a book again if it is in a series and I want a refresher of the story and characters.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      I do that too. I don’t have much time to re-read, Melissa. I hope to have a bit more in the future.

  16. Barbara Elness says:

    I just can’t bring myself to reread anything because I have so many books I want to read, I just don’t have time to go back and read something over again that I’ve read. I move on to all those wonderful books I haven’t read yet. :D

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      I know exactly what you mean, Barbara! Thank you for stopping by!

  17. Marcy Shuler says:

    I rarely reread books. Sometimes I skim a book as a refresher before the next one in the series comes out. That said, I have reread YOURS UNTIL DAWN by Teresa Medeiros a couple times because I love it. :)

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      That’s a great one, Marcy. I want to re-read it now!

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