Re-reads: Yay or Nay? What say you, friends?
Reading has always been part of who I am. Ever since I can remember, I’ve enjoyed reading. And yes, every now and then, I will re-read a book I’ve absolutely loved or a series I’ve started and want to get reacquainted with. On rare occasions, I had to restart a few books that I had to put aside the first time around. So re-reading, or re-starting books is a common bookworm issue many readers suffer from.
I have been asked many times why I waste my time re-reading books.
I’ve heard that question countless times from non-readers, so I don’t get offended by that question… Anymore (sigh..)!
So, fellow bookworms, are you on team re-reads? Yay, or Nay? What say you?
I don’t know everyone’s reasons for re-reading books, but here are a few of mine.
Your Tastes Evolve
There are a few genres of books that I’ve loved since I started reading, and I still like today. genres such as contemporary, light fiction, or thrillers, in particular Scandinavian ones, I don’t see myself ever growing out of.
Let me give you an example of a series that I’ve already read more than once: The Millenium trilogy by Stieg Larsson. The reason I’ve read it three times at last count is that there are so many details in the books that I just need a refresher every now and then. It is probably my favorite series ever, so I will probably reread it again in the near future.
Then there are a few other types of books that I never thought I would like, for example, fantasy. It really isn’t as bad as I thought!
And then romance novels, well, let’s just say that I’ve outgrown them. And I’m not judging those who love them, they’re just not for me at this point in my life. I might like them again someday, never say never.
Sometimes curiosity gets the best of me and I would pick up a book I really liked when I was a teenager. Then I wonder how I ever enjoyed reading that? Does that ever happen to you, or I’m the only weirdo of the bunch?
As a huge mood reader, I have a very hard time following a schedule when it comes to reading. I always have an idea of the books I’m planning to read, let’s say at the beginning of the month. But then I hear about a great book that just came out, or my long-awaited library loan finally came through. You get the picture.
Therefore, from time to time, I would start a book then set it aside for a few weeks, even months at a time. Then I have to start rereading it again, because, of course, I’ve lost track of the story and have no clue what’s going on in the book.
I really wish I can make a list, at least for a week at a time, and stick to it! You never know, it might happen one day. Unfortunately, that day has come around for me yet!
Different Place in Your Life
A classic that I read when I was in high school did not resonate with me the same way if I was to reread it today. You see things from a different perspective, and that’s always interesting to observe.
You cannot possibly enjoy Jane Eyre the same at 15 as you do when you’re 50. Your life experiences are practically non-existent when you’re a teenager. Although you might feel that you know it all at the time, you really don’t. No matter how mature you feel you are for your age. So your age will have an impact on how well you grasp certain nuances and meanings that will only come to you when you get a little older.
Speaking of maturity, age is not taken into the equation here. There are so many levels of maturity that some will achieve from a young age, and then there are some grown people that will never become adults. They will be grown people, but not adults in the true sense of the word. When you achieve some sort of maturity level you will be able to enjoy some books that you had to read in school, and quite enjoy them actually. Again, that is not something that everyone can achieve, therefore some very philosophical or complex literary works will always seem boring to certain people.
And that’s ok, reading is definitely not for everyone. I personally had to pick up Crime and Punishment in my late thirties, I could not handle that monster of a book in my twenties.
Different / Original Language
I own a few books in different languages because the translation is sometimes very different. Reading an author in the original language they wrote the book in gives you a very different experience than reading a translated copy.
Most recently, I have read The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup in French first, then in English. At my local library, the French copy was available first. I find some Scandinavian authors are translated into French before English in the Canadian market. No idea why, but I’m grateful that I can understand French, so I can enjoy those books as they come out.
And I loved the book so much, I had to have my own copy.
Or, pictured here, I’m Travelling Alone by Samuel Bjork. I read the book in English first, and when I saw the copy of it in French, I had to have it.
The reason books differ in one language or another, is because of the way each particular language’s syntax is structured. And you cannot translate paragraphs word for word, they would make absolutely no sense.
Different Platforms: Physical, e-Book, or Audiobook
I am team physical books any day, but life changes and we need to follow suit. E-books have made their appearance around 2007 but gained in popularity since the beginning of the pandemic. It’s a very convenient way to read, especially when traveling, or you don’t have access to physical books. Even if you commute to your hometown for work, you probably don’t want to carry all your books with you as you did in school.
A few years later, audiobooks were introduced. I find audiobooks a great idea to get people who were not really into reading back into the reading game.
Or for people who walk a lot, or commute. Instead of listening to music, sometimes listening to a book being read to you is a great alternative.
Often, I would listen to an audiobook or read it on my Kobo, then purchase the actual book. Especially if it’s a book I really want to own and I want the physical copy.
Frame of Mind
There are some books, like A Little Life for example, that you cannot read when you’re in a difficult period in your personal life. That book will destroy you. From the first few chapters, it will become apparent that it’s a book set for a time when your mind is clear and you’re ready to deal with it mentally.
Although I did read it fully, I had to take many breaks because the subject matter is just so real and heavy. That book is the perfect example of a re-read. I will surely at some point pick it up again, but not in the near future. I need to get to some new ones that are waiting impatiently to be read!
Basic Understanding of the Text
At the moment I mostly read fiction, but there was a time when I enjoyed classics a lot. And let’s face it, writers from the 18th and 19th centuries did not write in the same style as current authors. Therefore re-reads were not only recommended but were also necessary.
And don’t let me get into a huge debate about philosophical or sociological works. As you know, I have a bachelor’s in Sociology, and some of the required reading was not always the easiest or most fun to understand. Some of the books I read during those times I could probably re-read yearly and learn something new every time. You get new insights and new perspectives with every single re-read, so it’s definitely not a waste of time.
These are some of the reasons I believe at times a re-read is necessary. Yes, it might be time-consuming, but the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. That is strictly my opinion, and it’s ok if you don’t agree.
Now that I gave you a few ideas, would you be willing to make some exceptions? Or re-reading is simply not for you?
Awaiting your feedback, my fellow bookworms. Until then, enjoy reading whatever you like!