Why I re-read books

There are millions of books out there which I haven’t read. Lately I’ve been re-reading more than usual, with the help of a random generator and a spreadsheet. So why do I want to read the same books twice, thrice or more? Here are 10 reasons:

  • Comfort reads. Books which I love and know well. Reading them again is safe, because I already know I’ll enjoy them. They have earned their place on my shelf and I re-read them every few years.
  • A new film or TV adaptation of a book. Comparing the adaptation to the book is one of my hobbies. A new adaptation might also make me want to re-read the book anyway.
  • Older and wiser (maybe). When I first read a particular book, I wasn’t quite mature enough to understand and appreciate it. Having another go at it a decade later might give me a different perspective.
  • Previous studies. If I previously read a book for a literature course, enough time has now passed for me to be curious about re-reading the book for pleasure rather than study. However, it has to be a book I liked the first time around, even though I was studying it.
  • Unformed opinions. Every book has to earn its place on my shelf. Re-reading a book I wasn’t sure if I liked or not the first time around is a way to make my mind up. If I dislike it the second time around, I get rid. Even if I like a book, I may decide I don’t like it enough to re-read.
  • Can’t remember it. Arguably an unmemorable book is not worth re-reading, but if I’m curious about it, then there’s no harm in reading it again. I can then pretend I’ve not read it before and treat it as a ‘new’ book.
  • New book in a series. If a new instalment is published, or I never completed a series and want to do so, then it makes sense to re-read the previous ones to remind myself of the events so far.
  • New edition. I have been known to swap falling-apart books for new ones. Also, many books printed in the mid-20th century or thereabouts tend to have very brown pages, due to the acid in the paper, making the book almost unreadable. It’s only polite to re-read the pristine, shinier versions that I add to my collection.
  • A tribute to an author who has recently passed away. Hopefully a rare occurrence. Often a deceased author’s work will be in the media spotlight and their output re-evaluated, so it seems fitting to re-read at least one of their books.
  • Lack of new books to read. I admit this has not happened to me ever since I acquired a device to read e-books on, as there is always something new to read via the library e-catalogue or NetGalley. If I had no internet, however, and I wasn’t feeling rich enough to buy new books or I didn’t find anything good in the charity shops, I would be relying on the printed books already on my shelf, most of which I’ve previously read.

Do you re-read books? And for what reasons?


26 thoughts on “Why I re-read books”

  1. Great post! I’ve actually only reread a couple of my favourites, but since finding new favourite books these past couple of years, I’ve decided to reread a few. I loved reading your reasons for rereading!

    1. Thank you 🙂 I love that feeling of reading a book for the first time and knowing it’s a new favourite! It will stay on my shelf and in a few years I’ll re-read it. I was surprised how many reasons I found for re-reading…

      1. I love rereading too and must do it more often, especially when I’m in need of comfort!

  2. I was planning on writing a similar post on my romanian blog. I too re-read books for the very same reasons. I re-read The bear and the nightingale because I enjoy it that much, but then I also re-read Milan Kundera because at first I didn’t really understand it. Or Kafka’s The process which too, at first, I completely botched since I was too young and had no experience with the workings of life. Re-reading is great!

    1. You’re right, re-reading is brilliant 🙂 Some books I probably read too early – when I was getting into a lot of classics for the first time, for example, some of them were intended for a more mature reader and I didn’t ‘get’ them. Thanks 😀

  3. I feel like I don’t have enough time to reread, as there are so many books waiting for me to pick them, but there are a couple of exceptions: the Stephanie Plum series because it’s my comfort read, and if I got a book a long time ago and can’t remember it, but want to review it.

    1. I totally understand that – so many new books published every month and not even enough time to read a fraction of them. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  4. I used to re-read more in the past than I do now, I re-read for the pure enjoyment of a story and also for knowing that I am going to love the book all over again. Great post xx

    1. I’m re-reading more than I used to 😀 I’m cautious of trying new authors now after a lot of mediocre experiences so I like to alternate new books with re-reads, which I’m almost guaranteed to enjoy 🙂 Thanks!

  5. I reread books for the same reasons as you usually, especially older and wiser. It’s great to reread a book I read when I was a teen or child and compare to what I think of them now, especially considering I understand so much more now about the world.

    1. Thanks for your comment 🙂 It’s quite interesting to read something you last read one or two decades ago and see if it lives up to your memory of it, and whether you appreciate it more.

  6. I reread for pretty much the same reasons as you do. At the moment I have so much going on at work etc and I can’t really concentrate on reading. But then I find an old beloved audiobook to listen to. When you already know the story, it doesn’t matter too much if your concentration fails from time to time. Excellent post!

    1. You’re right about the comfort reads – not too much concentration needed 🙂 Thanks for checking out my post, glad you liked it!

  7. I don’t usually reread books except comfort reads – those I go back to now and again. I like your list of reasons though!

    1. I think we can all agree on the comfort reads 🙂 Thanks, I managed to think of quite a variety of reasons!

  8. What a great post! I re-read for comfort mostly, but lately have been (hoping) for older and wiser. You’ve included some terrific reasons for re-reads that I hadn’t thought of.

    1. Thanks! 🙂 I think if you re-read a book for the ‘older and wiser’ reason and you still don’t get it, you can either wait until you’re even older and wiser to try again, or just forget about it 😉

  9. I don’t re-read as much these days, mainly because I tend to request something from NetGalley instead. However, when I do re-read it is because the book is a comfort read, or its one that I can’t remember and I want to see if I actually like it or not. All the reasons that you listed though makes me want to prioritise a few re-reads this year, otherwise what’s the point of having all the books that I do. Great post as always 😄

    1. Thanks! 🙂 Yes there are lots more books accessible to everyone with an e-reading device now – so there is always something new to read! Re-reading is also a good way to clear out your bookcase of books you’re not sure about, or which you’ll never re-read another time – allowing more room for new books 😉

    1. That’s a very good reason. I find that I’m more interested in the writing than the actual story sometimes, and it’s the same for films – I’m working out how it was made!

  10. I love this post! I can relate to many of these reasons. I was often too stressed to really enjoy some of the books I had to read for school, so maybe I should pick them up again. 🙂

    1. Thank you! 🙂 Studying a book can put you off it. I have quite a few books I didn’t like studying but I liked them a lot when re-read them years later.

    1. Thanks! 🙂 I’ve never done a buddy read, that’s a good reason to add to the list.

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