The pros and cons of rereading; aka, I need an intervention

I have a problem.

I love rereading books.

(First step is admitting you have a problem, so I can check that off my list.)

But there are so many new books coming out all the time and old books that I hear about for the first time, so my to-read shelf on Goodreads just keeps getting loooonger and loooooooonger. What to do???

I’ve read 44 books this year (WOAH) and 16 of those have been rereads (YIKES). Clearly this is a problem. If I devote that much time to books that I’ve already read, how am I ever going to even make a dent in my TBR pile? Imagine how many more new books I could have discovered if I had read 16 new books instead of those rereads! But I can’t bring myself to regret them . . .

I blame this behavior on my younger self, who read everything she could get her hands and seemed to think there was a finite number of good books out there (because apparently she didn’t realize that new books come out???) and just reread her favorites over and over. She realized that she liked returning to the books she liked and unfortunately that habit remains today.

(^ me as a seven-year-old)

So what’s the big deal with rereading?

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The Pros:

I get to revisit characters and worlds that I love! Who doesn’t like stepping back into a world you’re familiar with and characters that feel like old friends? There’s something so soothing about returning to a story that you already know, because you don’t have to stress about what’s going to happen and instead you can enjoy the ride.

It can be comforting during hard times. I often turn to old favorites when there’s a big change happening in my life (I reread The Hobbit during my first semester of college and Harry Potter while I was studying abroad) or if things just haven’t been going my way and I need something familiar (I reread The Goose Girl at the beginning of this semester). When life is rough or scary, I need my faves with me to have my back.

I know what’s going to happen, so I can appreciate other aspects. Sometimes when I’m reading a book for the first time, I’m so anxious to find out what’s going to happen that I fly through it super fast. Rereading gives me the opportunity to slow down and appreciate other things like characters and prose and themes that I might not have caught on the first read (or second, or third…). I reread The Raven Cycle earlier this year because the first time through was so fast and stressful, and I loved knowing what was going to happen so I could pay more attention to all the little details that I didn’t catch before!

I understand new things in different times of my life. Every time I reread an old fave, I relate to it in a new way based on what’s going on in my life. Maybe I understand the motives of a character differently, or I relate a theme to something in my own life in a way that I wouldn’t have when I was younger. That’s the beauty of well-written, timeless books – they grow with you and let you connect them to so many aspects of your own life.

It’s a guaranteed good read. If you’ve loved it every other time you’ve read it, you know you’ll love it again, right? Especially when I’ve been disappointed by other new books, it’s so much easier to pick up something I know I’ll enjoy because I need to remind myself why I love reading. Plus, this can be a great way to get yourself out of a reading slump!

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The Cons:

Less time for new books. I mean, obviously. The logical consequence of rereading old books is that new books get neglected. And the TBR keeps growing and growing until one day I die in an avalanche of books (my greatest fear).

I could realize the book isn’t as good as I remembered. Is there anything worse than picking up a book you used to love and realizing you don’t love it anymore? The betrayal! The heartbreak! Truly one of life’s greatest disappointments. This is why I’m a little scared to pick up some of the books I really loved when I was younger, because what if they’re not as good anymore and my memory of them is tarnished forever?

I can get stuck in a rut. Often, when I reread something, I remember some other old book that I loved that I want to pick up again. And I get caught in a vicious cycle of going through old books and not picking up anything new. It’s a slippery slope and I don’t know how to prevent it from happening.

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That said, here are some of my favorite books to reread (as in, I’ve read them so many times I’ve actually lost count of the exact number and my copies are probably falling apart).

  
  

Aaaaaand here are some of the books I want to reread at some point. Not now………..probably. Maybe. We’ll see. 😉

       

(OH NO THIS IS SO MANY SOMEBODY STOP ME.)

(It hasn’t even been a year since I read some of these I need help.)

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let’s talk…

Do you like rereading books? If you had all the time in the world, what books would you reread? Any advice for my rereading problem?

22 thoughts on “The pros and cons of rereading; aka, I need an intervention

  1. Pingback: Liebster Award #2, and Sunshine Blogger Awards #3 & #4 | Perfectly Tolerable

  2. Nooooooo your addiction to re-reading is not at all a problem! This is a subject I’m so passionate about because I actually think NOT re-reading books can be detrimental since as you say, you come to see the deeper aspects of a book upon re-read. And coming to see the bad aspects of a book is actually another good thing; feeling betrayed does admittedly suck (like, hardcore), but it ultimately highlights which books you really should be paying attention to. People really should be re-reading a ton more, so I’m happy that you’re actually addicted to it. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You definitely made some fantastic points. I’m determined to reread more books this year because I have a memory of a gnat and literally can’t remember anything about a book I read a month ago. However, I somehow always talk myself out of rereading something because I’m like, you have 80 unread books sitting on your shelf and like 5 library books – HOW CAN YOU REREAD NOW???? But you make such a case for rereading more that I’m going to ignore that voice and go for it. Wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved reading this post because I’m the exact opposite of you (I never reread), it’s like reading something from the other side. It was quite revealing and I can see why you’re struggling, but I’m also a bit jealous that you get to reread all your favourite books. I feel too much pressure whenever I’m thinking of rereading a book – like those new books that haven’t been read yet glare at me from the shelves and I just can’t. Also, whaaat if I’m bored because I remember too much of what happened? I hate it. I overthink this a lot.
    Lovely post! ❤ I'm glad I discovered your blog because your writing is great! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello Margaret!
    That is great that you re-read books often- I probably don’t re-read enough! I can see the value in re-reading a book, especially the part where we can appreciate the book in a different way or at a different age. I am actually planning to reread the HP series this month (which is the first time I am rereading it- I know, how could it be that I’ve never reread HP!?) I just finished The Book Thief for the first time but it will definitely be on my reread list in the future 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. I absolutely love rereading and revisiting worlds I love. It’s definitely very comforting! And yes, you definitely get things out of books every time round. And it’s the best way to deal with a slump 🙂 I agree that there is a downside of not getting to new books. And I do fear that a book won’t be as good the second time round. Honestly, I don’t see it as such a bad thing- I used to reread all the time and recently have got back into it- HP and Hobbit are two of my favourites to reread too!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: April Wrap-up! – Sophie's Corner

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