Rereading a book isn’t as simple as taking another look at a painting or watching a movie again because it requires commitment, and when you already know what happens at the ending, it seems like a very laborious task. So why reread books?
Who’s the most guilty of this? It’s the kids. Their favourite books become very familiar, particularly fairytales. I know I was guilty of demanding Cinderella pretty much every bedtime of my childhood simply because I yearned to be dancing away into the night with a Prince at the ball in glass slippers.
But this trait hasn’t left me as I’ve grown up. I find it so curious when you notice new concepts on a second read because there’s no rush to find out the ending. You find your attitudes have evolved-maybe you’ve grown to like one character more or you can relate to what they are feeling. There’s always that odd uncomfortable feeling when in unfamiliar territory but in a very familiar book. But the book hasn’t changed; it’s you who has evolved. This is where my intrigue began before writing this post, we change as people between reads so the books change too.
Recently I reread Pride and Prejudice and found myself looking for clues within the writing. When was it exactly that Mr Darcy fell in love with Elizabeth Bennet? What about the romance between Mr Bingley and Jane? It is as if knowing the ending gives the reader a more acute awareness. Perhaps all books should just giveaway the last chapter before the plot unfolds… Could be interesting. Nevertheless sometimes I feel more in tune on a second read, and there’s always that moment when you realise the tricks of the author and you feel as it is of great cosmic significance and the whole literary universe is folding in on itself and you’re in the epicentre.
So I ask, why do we reread? I guess I’m notorious for it because I just love that feeling of knowing why the author has deployed this or that device because you already know how the books ends. To some books I feel a loyalty towards, to have and to hold and to read and to read and to read. And I guess also we are kids again, demanding princess stories at every waking moment. And oh how I would love to reread the treasured stories of my infancy.
My work experience at Hot Key Books has taught me one incredibly important thing; children’s stories are precious. I’d like to think that is because the heroes (and villains) of them become familiar that we aspire to be them and want to feel their presence again and again. So what Hot Key Books does is incredibly important; they don’t just publish books, they make old friends.