On Rereading


I just finished reading Fire by Kristin Cashore for the second time and thought I would do something a little bit different today to commemorate the completion of this absolutely marvelous book. Rather than writing a review of the book, I will discuss my opinions of rereading. Although I do need to state just one more time for the record that Kristin Cashore is an amazing author (although she needs to publish another book soon!). Anyone who likes Tamora Pierce will love her.

Personally, I love rereading books, although I know some people can’t stand to do so. Even with my love of it, I do acknowledge that in a lot of ways it is incredibly inconvenient, considering that I already have far too many books that I want to read during my lifetime. Still, for me, the experience is one hundred percent worth it in most cases.

I am aided by the fact that my memory tends to be pretty weak over the long term. I will remember that I have read a book (usually) and how I felt about it, but will not be able to remember any of the details. I can reread a book and have the ending be a surprise yet again. This is both convenient and inconvenient. However, my rereading is not limited solely to books whose awesomeness I have forgotten; I also reread my favorites that I know practically by heart already. In this category are books like Pride and Prejudice and The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I read them again for the sheer beauty of the work, which does not diminish with further scrutiny.

Rereading really does allow you to notice new things that you missed entirely on the first go through or even the first five. There is something magical in that. I am often better able to appreciate the author’s skill with language than on my first reading, when I am usually focused on following the story. Of course, rereading also provides more of a guarantee of experience than trying out something new; you have read the book already and loved it, so it will likely still be enjoyable.

Sometimes I do reread books that I did not like (or even loathed). Occasionally this was for school, as in the case of Fahrenheit 451 (which I still hated). Generally though, I put myself through this experience, like when I decided to give 1984 another chance while taking a course on the Soviet Union. While I cannot honestly say that I loved the book (or even really liked it) the second time, I definitely understood it better and got a whole lot out of the experience of reading it.

My personal library is primarily built on rereading too. Almost all of the books within it fall into one of two categories: books I have not yet read or books I want to read again. There are a few exceptions, which tend to be books that were a bit of a slog to get through (good and rewarding, but probably not to be reread). These I want to keep and display just because I read them. Two examples of this category are Bleak House and Crime and Punishment.

What are your thoughts on rereading?

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