Do you re-read?

Do you re-read books? I do, but I wouldn’t call myself a serial re-reader; perhaps one book out of every twenty I open is a repeat read.

Though I wasn’t aware of this until recently, re-reading seems to baffle or even offend some people. However, the reasons for re-reading seem so obvious to me: if a book filled your belly with fire, or stirred some deep emotion in you, or kicked your ass for its entire duration, or just generally inspired you in some way, why the hell not re-read?

I had this conversation with a friend a few weeks back, who was puzzled as to why I would read something I already knew the ending to. Another friend implied (in a really diplomatic way) that it was narrow-minded of me to re-read, that I shouldn’t stick only to what I know (though re-reading one in twenty books isn’t exactly being stuck in my ways). I find this attitude odd. Rewatching a favourite film or replaying a favourite song is seen as perfectly usual, so what changes with books?

I’d wager it’s literary snobbery, the idea that returning to a book should be unnecessary. Yet if you can detect and appreciate every subtle shade and pun in Finnegans Wake at the first time of asking, then I accept it: you are a better man than I.

If you ask me, a book not worth re-reading isn’t worth reading in the first place. So tell me in the comments: do you re-read? If so, what do you re-read? And what do you get from it?

Chris Greenhough

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One Response to “Do you re-read?”

  1. Suko says:

    I do re-read. I even revisited and re-read this post.

    Unless you have a perfect, photographic memory, and a mind sharp enough to grasp every nuance and meaning the first time, it’s a good idea to re-read. I mostly re-read classic literature or works which for one reason or other I find worthwhile. I also re-read for the sheer pleasure of experiencing a book a second time, to strengthen my connection to it.

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