Which books do you re-read?

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.

Laura Davis

Thanks Laura!

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6 responses to “Which books do you re-read?

  1. I like the idea of looking for clues in a story when you re-read them! I actually have done the same with Pride and Prejudice, looking for hints in the story of Wickham that expose him earlier. It’s perhaps one of the few books I have re-read.

    Re-reading (that isn’t work related) for me is a real luxury, and so therefore I probably have only done it a handful of times. The books I reread are often comfort reads, like childhood actually. For example, my favourite book to reread is A Room with a View. I read it around every few years, when I’ve read a few dark and depressing books, and want something uplifting. Plus, I first read it when I was traveling in Tuscany, so in a way, it’s like re-living the memory of that trip too. For me, books often hold the memory of when I first read them, where I was in my life at that time, and the experience I had when I first read them – and rereading is often to see if I’ve changed, and whether I experience it differently this time.

  2. deathbooksandtea

    I never specifically try and look for deeper/clue-y things though-takes the fun out of it. But if I find them, I’m always pleased with myself. I re-read because I love the worlds, the ideas and the action. I don’t often re-read, but when I do, I’m always glad I did.

  3. Haha! This is exactly what I wrote about on my blog yesterday… sort of. I have re-read the Harry Potter series many, many times. Other than that my favourite thing to re-read is the Anne of Green Gables series because it changes so much. When I first read them I was younger than the Anne of the first book. Now I’m just married and studying hard. When we start planning kids I’ll read them again… Each time new things jump out, each time I understand Anne just a little better. And each time I have a new favourite book in the series.

  4. It’s hard to choose sometimes between a pile of unread books with fresh new themes and adventures, or the old friends beckoning from the bookcase. ‘Wind in the Willows’ when life seems unnecessarily complex, Terry Pratchett when I need joyous absurdity, ‘His Dark Materials’ when I’m tempted to write something quick and facile. And of course, to make me reach higher, ever higher in my writing.

    One of my greatest treats is to reread a whole series of books in one go (much better than a holiday with airports and packing and blisters from new sandals). You get to know the characters so well, see things you miss when there’s a gap between books, and you really sink into the author’s world. Bliss.

  5. I love re-reading books because they take me back to a time in my childhood or adolescence (I only re-read YA books. Not because I’m anti-adult, which I’m not, but because 90% of my books are YA or children’s) I’m very nostalgic for my younger self when things were much simpler and you only had to worry about whether to choose a Penguin or Blue Ribband to go in your lunch box.

  6. I love to re-read books, although I haven’t done it as much as I’d like! I love noticing things I missed before.

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