Falling Back in Love with Re-Reading

Posted February 25, 2015 by Stormy in Books / 24 Comments

Before I started blogging, I re-read ALL the time. I would say that prior to 2012, probably 50% of my reads in any given year were re-reads. Then, I started blogging and the re-reading sort of drifted away. It didn’t stop completely, but it lessened significantly. I think I re-read a total of FIVE books in 2014, out of 150 books read. That’s barely a drop in bucket. Of course, I love discovering new books too, but there’s just something special about re-reading to me.

One of my bookish goals in 2015 was to re-read more. I set my Goodreads challenge super low in terms of what I can realistically accomplish because I wanted to give myself the freedom to re-read more without worrying if I was meeting my goal. This year, I set my Goodreads challenge goal at 50 books. That’s 100 books less than I read in 2013 and 2014. Now, I probably won’t re-read 100 books this year, but I want to have the option to do so while still challenging myself.

I’ve really been making an effort to embrace re-reading this year, and so far I’ve already re-read more books than I did in 2014. To date I’ve re-read six books. It’s not a huge number, but I’ve set a pretty good pace, and it’s true that I’ve fallen in love with re-reading all over again. These past few years I’ve been distracted by so many bright & shiny new releases that I forgot why I love re-reading in the first place. Re-reading, for me, gives me a richer reading experience.

I enjoy re-reading so much because I already know the story. It’s comforting to return to a story you love, and when I re-read I’m not hung up on keeping up with where the story is going or how things are going to end. I already know that. Instead, I get to focus more on adding layers to a story I already know.

I’m a pretty deep reader at times. I enjoy the craft of story-telling, so I pay close attention to the books I read my first time through, but there’s always something I pick up on the second time around that I didn’t the first. This month I’ve re-read I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson and all three released books in Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle series. Both of those authors write stories with lots of layers, so I was shocked to realize just how much I discovered in these books upon re-reading, especially since I read all The Raven Cycle books in a row which I hadn’t done previously. I was amazed at how the tiniest thing from book 1 to be called back in book 3. My understanding and appreciation grew for these books upon re-reading in a way I don’t think they would have otherwise.

Re-reading also tends to give me a stronger emotional attachment. Take The Raven Cycle for example. I’ve always thought Maggie Stiefvater wrote beautiful prose, even when I haven’t liked her stories(I wasn’t a huge fan of Shiver). I’ve always enjoyed the story of Blue and the Raven Boys, but my attachment to the books wasn’t deep. I thought they were good and I even gave Blue Lily, Lily Blue 5 stars, but I wasn’t emotionally attached to the plot or the characters. I got SUPER attached during my re-read though. Because I already knew the story, I was able to really delve into the lives of the characters and for the first time felt really invested. Before, I liked the books with a sense of detachment because I thought the story was good. Now, I really care.

Here’s the downside of re-reading, though: sometimes I don’t love a book as much the second time around. So far, this hasn’t happened with any of the books I’ve re-read this year, but it’s always a slight fear in the back of my mind whenever I pick up a book to re-read, because it’s happened to me before.

When I was in middle school, I found Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series. I remember being in awe. It was fantasy, which was pretty much the only thing I read at the time, but it wasn’t like any fantasy I had read before. Both death & the dead played a huge role in the book and I remember being fascinated because it was the first time I had ever read a fantasy that didn’t mind getting dark. Even as a child, I was drawn to the dark stories. I fell in love and checked all the books out of the library several times. They were influential to my own imagination and the kind of the stories I wrote as I was growing up.

Flash forward about a decade to 2013. I learned that Garth Nix was releasing another book set in the same world, Clariel. I’m pretty sure my scream of excitement was heard ’round the world. In honor of Clariel’s release, I decided to re-read the books, so I went down to my local used bookstore and found all the books for super cheap. I started re-reading Sabriel, and. . . all the magic was gone. I had to force myself through the book. I found it mostly boring with some good parts. If I was reviewing it for the blog, I would have given it 3 stars at most.

I re-read a favorite, and it lost its favorite status. Of course, reading taste can change a lot in a decade, and I’m not the same person or reader I was when I first read the series. I’m no longer in the target age group for the books, and it’s possible that nostalgia made me tougher on the book than I would have been otherwise. However, even with all these reasons, the end result remained: I didn’t love the book anymore.

Still, in the end I think the benefits of re-reading, at least for me personally, outweigh the possible cons, sad as it to demote a book from favorite status. We’ll see what other books I decide to re-read this year, especially since some of my favorite series are wrapping up in the fall.

LET’S CHAT: Do you re-read frequently(or at all)? What’s your favorite thing about re-reading? Have you ever re-read a book and didn’t like it as much the second time around?




24 responses to “Falling Back in Love with Re-Reading

  1. There’s been a few books that I’ve reread for school (I read them at an early grade, then reread them with the class). But one of the first “for pleasure” books I tried to reread was Life of Pi… and I couldn’t get back into it. One of those “can’t un-know” things. But now, I’m currently rereading the Harry Potter series for the first time since the books were originally released. And it has been a lot of fun. Getting to relive great moments and noticing new things I missed before. I’m definitely glad I’m doing this!

    • Stormy

      Oh, and Harry Potter is a great series to re-read because there’s just SO MUCH! For a long time I re-read the series every year and every single time I found new threads I hadn’t noticed before.

  2. laineslite

    I am always rereading books, especially in series so that I read them all again just before the new one is out. But I still read books again and again, usually with months to a year between to keep it fresh and for fun.

    • Stormy

      That’s how I used to be! Though I don’t tend to re-read series until they’re *all* released. The Raven Cycle this time was an exception, I think. I’ve also noticed I tend to re-read standalones more because it’s less of a commitment.

  3. Great post! I used to reread my favorites all the time, then I started blogging and haven’t reread a book in years. It’s a shame, because I always discovered something new I had missed the first time or two. Think I need to squeeze in a reread or two this year, as I miss it.

    • Stormy

      It’s strange to realize how much blogging has really changed my reading habits! Most of the time I don’t mind because I’m reading more & also reading more widely, but I did miss the frequent re-readings. . . and I’m a much happier reader now that I’m re-reading more this year.

  4. This is my situation EXACTLY. I reread constantly before blogging, especially when I first got out of college because I would get ready to read and not have a huge pile of books, so rather than leave the apartment (late at night) for a bookstore run, I’d just find something to reread. I used to pace in front of my bookshelves until something grabbed me. I don’t do that anymore because I buy ebooks, and it’s so easy to go get something new in 60 seconds.

    I tend to rush through my books on the first read, so I always catch something new on the second (or third or whatever) reread. But you’re right, sometimes it backfires. Sometimes I realize I don’t love a series as much as I did at first.

    Really, though, rereading is just so fun. It feels so … light? No pressure? And some of them I don’t intend to review so I can just read and move on and speed through a series without notes or anything! (I hate saying I don’t want to write reviews but I’m getting to the point where unless I LOVE a book, I hate writing the review. That’s when I start sliding down the blog slump slope.)

    • Stormy

      “No pressure” is the perfect way to describe re-reading to me.
      And I think I sometimes rush through books on the first read. I mean, I do try to read deeply because I love looking for the layers, but if I just get IN THE ZONE with a book. . . it’ll be knocked out in a few hours flat. And while I might re-read quickly too, I still pick up on small things I missed the first time around. I think I really see that when I re-read a series all at once–I get to see all the small threads I might have missed before!

    • Stormy

      I feel like I go through cycles of re-reading & not re-reading–last year was a not re-reading year. There are some books I like that I can’t re-read though–something about them just doesn’t draw me to re-reading them.

  5. I feel like whenever I read a book I’m on the lookout for a book/series I’ll love enough to reread, and so I take great pleasure in my rereads. Currently rereading both Harry Potter and The Raven Cycle so… good times!

  6. Maraia

    I love re-reading! I used to do it a lot more as well, and I definitely miss it. Back when only the first three HP books were out, I used to read one, two, three, one, two, three…I think I did that 9 or 10 times in a row! I read Tamora Pierce almost as often. Now my re-reads are mostly limited to audiobooks, which works out really well. That means I still get my yearly HP and Tamora Pierce reads in! I think I need to actually read the hard copies of the Raven Cycle books all in a row before September, though.

    I’m glad you’re taking time to re-read your favorites this year, although I also worry about them not living up to the hype in my memory. I had a similar experience with my re-read (listen) of the Abhorsen books. I LOVED them when I was younger, and even though I didn’t hate them, they were definitely less exciting than I had remembered. I still think you should read Clariel, though, if only to experience a female MC who is COMPLETELY uninterested in romance.

    • Stormy

      Yes I did that with Harry Potter too!(Well, for me it was the first four books. I started reading the series right after Goblet of Fire was released). I know some people really like re-reading via audiobooks. I’ve listened to a few audiobooks & enjoyed them, but I can’t get into them enough to have an audiobook always going like some people can. I listened to them more when I still had access to OverDrive–I’d listen to audiobooks on my phone when I was at the gym.

      I wonder if the Abhorsen series is one of those series that just *work* better when you’re younger. I’ve heard that about Clariel & man I want to read for that reason but at the same time I was disappointed in my re-read that it’s hard for me to gather enthusiasm. But maybe since Clariel is new and I’ve *never* read it before it will be easier to go in without too many expectations.

      • Maraia

        There’s so much depth to HP, it never fails to amaze me. And the humor!

        Oh, I forgot about your OverDrive problem. It’s the only way I listen to audiobooks – so much easier than keeping track of iTunes tracks or CDs. I can set a timer, and it’s (almost) always at the right place each time I open the app! I’m angry at your library on your behalf.

        I really didn’t enjoy Clariel, and I know it seems like a waste to read a book you aren’t even expecting to like, but I still think you would appreciate that aspect of it, even if you don’t enjoy the book as a whole. Besides, you never know, you could end up loving it! (Okay, probably not.)

  7. I love to reread! That is definitely my comfort reading. I love when I have reread a book so many times I can open it at any place and just jump in.

    I really do want to read the first 2 Raven books before trying BLLB. My problem is that I want to reread whole series and some are getting SO long. I love that you set your challenge low so that you could get all the books in. Very smart. I am debating a full October Daye reread and maybe Lumatere. And then there’s HP which I always want to reread 🙂

    • Stormy

      Yes that’s the best! Sometimes I re-read books but sometimes I like to just re-read my favorite passages, and that’s fun too.

      I don’t think I read any super long series I’d want to re-read(Harry Potter is probably the longest) but I totally understand that. I think setting my challenge goal low this year has really helped me feel less guilty for re-reading.

  8. I also used to re-read all the time before I started blogging, and I’m trying to re-read more this year. I even signed up for the Re-Read Challenge. So far I’ve re-read 3 books, but I’ve enjoyed it so much. And I definitely plan on re-reading others soon.

    I’m glad that your re-reading experience this year has been going so well. Although sometimes our opinions of books change when you re-read it for the worse, I think for the most part, it’s such an enjoyable experience.

    • Stormy

      Ooh, I don’t think I knew there was a re-read challenge. It’s just so nice to slip back into a comfortable world. I feel like I get so much from the story upon re-reading because I don’t really have to acclimate myself. it’s comfortable, like a nice blanket.

  9. Great post. I have reread a few books this year, but not many. I would love to reread more books, but I just have so many on my TBR already!

    • Stormy

      Last year I was so overwhelmed with TBR guilt I hardly re-read at all, but I took a step back this year. I still have so many books to read but I set my Goodreads challenge goal lower & I’m trying to remember that all the books on my TBR will be there while I re-read a favorite. It’s so tough though, because I know I can never read ALL THE BOOKS I want to so sometimes it’s hard to justify re-reading.

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