The most recent Lit Chat with Lauren and the Books (#3) had Simon of Savidge Reads as a guest, which was delightful because he’s delightful. They had a lovely chat about the questions, which were: Do you re-read books? Why or why not? Are there any specific titles you go back to regularly? What makes you go back to them?
Up until recently, I would have said a very firm “HELL, NO! … … … Except for Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”
It’s not that I’ve never re-read books. When I was a kid, I re-read picture books over and over and over again. And, when I was still convinced that I wasn’t a reader (i.e., having a hard time finding new books I wanted to read), I re-read a number of favourite books from when I was younger. I’ve re-read a number of Diana Wynne Jones, CS Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, maybe a Janet Lunn, and several Terry Pratchett books.
But, on the whole, I’ve always been really against re-reading books. I couldn’t understand why so many people re-read books or (shock! horror!) re-read them annually! Of course, I also liked to pretend that I never re-read books. All the times I read/listened to/watched all the variations of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy apparently didn’t count. Nor did the fact that I have been slowly (very slowly) working on listening to all the Terry Pratchett Discworld books, even the ones I’d already read. And, as I started trying to remember books I’ve read in the past, I realized that I’ve also re-read (and would not say no to re-reading again) a number of favourite series from my childhood: The Chronicles of Narnia, the Time Quintet series, and the Chrestomanci series.
Then, Sara Baume happened to me. Almost as soon as I finished reading A Line Made by Walking, I knew I was going to re-read it. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that I really wanted to re-read.
But, I “never” re-read books! No. Not me!
I have two main issues with re-reading books: there are lots of other books for me to read and I’m afraid that I won’t enjoy them the second time around.
The time factor is easily dealt with by finding audiobooks. I listen to audiobooks when I commute and sometimes when I’m doing chores, so I can easily listen to a couple of books a month and sometimes it’s nice to listen to something that I don’t need to focus on or that’s fun.
The enjoyment factor can’t be helped. We all grow, change, and evolve, so we won’t necessarily like a book that we loved 10 years ago, or even 2 years ago. Does that mean that we should avoid re-reading any books? Clearly not. We just need to go in with an open mind, cleared expectations, and the knowledge that we might not love it the second time. And, if you find that I you don’t love, or even that you hate it, that’s OK. It just means that you can make room for new favourites.
I re-read The Martian Chronicles last year. It wasn’t was life changing as it had been when I first read it, but it was still good and I don’t regret re-reading it. If anything, I’m sort of glad that I’m able to let go of the curiosity about whether re-reading it would be a good idea or a bad idea.
Do you re-read books?
This post was inspired by Lauren from Lauren and the Books (YouTube) who recently started a series where she’s answering questions from Lit Chat : Conversation Starters about Books and Life by Book Riot, which you can buy via her affiliate link or via pretty much any book story (ask your local book shop for it!).