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In defense of reading the same book over and over again

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message 1: by Dara (last edited Aug 22, 2019 07:27AM) (new)

Dara (cmdrdara) | 2650 comments Rebecca Jennings at Vox argues that it's not so bad to read the same book or watch the same tv show over and over.

"Basically, what all these critiques come down to is that with so many books and movies and TV shows in the world, why keep talking about just one?

But maybe that’s the wrong question. Maybe instead the question is: Is it really that bad to read a single book or watch a single show over and over and over again?"


The whole piece is worth reading but it but it basically boils down to, "re-consuming media makes us feel good and that's okay." Which I totally agree with. I've read Harry Potter more times than I can count. I spent most of my 2019 reading year re-reading parts of The Expanse and ASOIAF. So I am in favor of the re-read.

Is anyone else a re-reader? What do you find yourself going back to most?


message 2: by Mark Lawrence (new)

Mark Lawrence (marklawrence) | 21 comments I used to re-read a lot when I was younger, but these days I re-read maybe one book a year if that. I do however have a mental list of books I +plan+ to re-read... Whether I ever will or not though is another question.


message 3: by Paul (last edited Aug 22, 2019 07:36AM) (new)

Paul  Perry (pezski) | 465 comments I've bookmarked this article to read later but, from your overview, i can't disagree with it. I'm not a big re-reader myself - there are just too many books I haven't read yet! - but I certainly understand the urge. I will rewatch favourite movies ( Airplane! Hot Fuzz, Yojimbo, Amelie, etc) at the drop of a hat and, with books especially, we appreciate them differently at different stages of our life.



Thanks for sharing this, Dara.


message 4: by Dara (new)

Dara (cmdrdara) | 2650 comments Paul wrote: "Thanks for sharing this, Dara."

You're welcome! She quotes an article from The Atlantic that dives deep into re-consuming media along with a study on why humans do it. It's good stuff.


message 5: by Trike (new)

Trike | 5686 comments Mark wrote: "I used to re-read a lot when I was younger, but these days I re-read maybe one book a year if that. I do however have a mental list of books I +plan+ to re-read... Whether I ever will or not though..."

Same.

Of course, when I was younger there wasn’t as much SFF available as there is today. (A few years ago I saw somewhere that the advent of ebooks has led to a proliferation of work, the result being that in the 21st century more books are published each year than were published in the entirety of the 20th century. If that’s even remotely true then we are truly trying to sip from a firehose.)

Plus, there are so many books that I’ve bought but not yet read (like Red Sister, for instance, just to pick one at total random) that re-reading feels like stealing from those experiences.


message 6: by Bill (new)

Bill | 95 comments I’m not much of a rereader these days but think people should do whatever makes them happy. I used to read a few books every year when I was younger but with joining GR and r/fantasy on reddit I have tons of new books I want to get to. I also have a list of rereads I want to do.


message 7: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Richter (stephenoflongbeach) | 1099 comments Thanks to the rise of audiobooks, it is easier to do a re-read. What I mean is it is easier to do stuff when it is a story you are more familiar with I do a reread of ASOI&F with each new release, plan the same with Rothfuss. It also helps when you get in a rut, after a series of less than satisfying stories cross your path. Last year I did the Expanse re-read along with the novelettes in the right order after a couple of months of depressing stories both in the literary world and the real.


message 8: by Dara (last edited Aug 22, 2019 09:23AM) (new)

Dara (cmdrdara) | 2650 comments I came across a quote from an interview with Paul Feig in a piece on Decider talking about his film A Simple Favor: "You don’t want to make something you’re just going to watch once and then you’ll never watch again."

I hadn't really thought about re-reading from an author's perspective. I imagine you'd want to create something that people want to read over and over. It's a testament to a book if readers want to experience your world over and over.


message 9: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3040 comments I dunno that any reading preference needs a defense, just read the way you like. As for me, I rarely reread books, although as it happens I'm doing that right now with the Pern series.

OTOH as a fan of comics and serial SF, I've been known to read almost the same storyline with modest variations. So it would be a familiar story but with a few changes. Eventually I got sick of the constant teen angst of the X-Men, but I'm still good for the hammer swingin' dude to summon the lightning and say "Have at thee!"


message 10: by Mark Lawrence (new)

Mark Lawrence (marklawrence) | 21 comments Trike wrote: "Plus, there are so many books that I’ve bought but not yet read (like Red Sister, for instance, just to pick one at total random) that re-reading feels like stealing from those experiences."

Well, you definitely should never re-read if it stops you from reading one of my books! :D


message 11: by Sheila Jean (new)

Sheila Jean | 192 comments I don't re-read very often, but there are a few books I know I've (intentionally) read more than once :) There are also a couple that I've purchased for that purpose after originally reading at the library. They may or may not have actually been re-read.

The only recent re-read I completed was for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which I did in Audio vs. the original read in print. I was hoping to get the UK version to spice things up, but I think the library had it on physical CD's or something I found equally cumbersome, so stuck with the US version.


message 12: by Rick (new)

Rick | 2337 comments There are times when I want to read but am not in the mood to read anything new. The stuff in my TBR is meh, the new stuff coming out isn't what I want... so I re-read something I've liked. Full disclosure, I can't go to sleep without reading at least a bit.


message 13: by Colin (new)

Colin Forbes (colinforbes) | 331 comments My bookshelves are full of books that I can't bear to part with because I'd theoretically like to reread them some day. In practice that hardly ever happens.

I am (slowly) working my way back through the Iain M. Banks back catalogue, but when I do I'm doing them as audio this time round so the books are still gathering dust. Still couldn't bear to part with them though!


message 14: by David H. (new)

David H. (farrakut) | 865 comments My own reading stats (2007-19) show that my rereads are anywhere from 0% to 20% of my yearly reading (my average for the last 3 years is 5%). I don't reread as much unless I'm doing it for a series catch-up (like I did with a couple series already). I'm currently rereading the Quintaglio Ascension trilogy in advance of the author coming to a local con this fall.

Also, as the article says, kids love predictability. My son has read I Love My Daddy every single night since he "got" it for me for Father's Day. Even in kids' books I notice new details every time.


message 15: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3040 comments ^Reminds me of the Discworld book Thud! where Sam Vimes reads the same book to his kid every night no matter what. That become a pivotal plot point towards the end.


message 16: by David H. (last edited Aug 22, 2019 12:38PM) (new)

David H. (farrakut) | 865 comments I need to read the Sam Vimes books. Didn't Pratchett eventually write that in-universe book you mention, John?


message 17: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 555 comments John (Taloni) wrote: "^Reminds me of the Discworld book Thud! where Sam Vimes reads the same book to his kid every night no matter what. That become a pivotal plot point towards the end."

I think any parent of a small child can relate to this...
(I have read The Tiger Who Came to Tea every night for months now...)


message 18: by Ian (new)

Ian Seal (rebel-geek) | 182 comments I’m not much of a re-reader, but I re-read HP1 with everyone else (partially animated illustrated version). I do have a list of books I’d like to re-read (listen to, really), but my TBR list is so long it may never happen.

Dark Tower Saga (King)
Kingkiller Chronicles (Rothfuss)

And there’s books that I lemmed while reading that I may try listening to.

The Hunt for Red October
Never Ending Story
The Forever War


message 19: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (last edited Aug 22, 2019 03:19PM) (new)

Tassie Dave | 2675 comments Mod
I used to re-read a lot when I was younger. I still do occasionally, but I have such limited reading time that I want to find new books to love.

Mark wrote: "Well, you definitely should never re-read if it stops you from reading one of my books! :D "

Wow, the author of my favourite series I've read this year :-)

Great work Mark :-) I loved Red Sister, Grey Sister, Bound and Holy Sister

Everyone here should read your "Book of the Ancestor" series :-)

Go for it Trike you will love it


message 20: by Mer (new)

Mer | 75 comments I reread alot when I’m in a part of the US where the audio selections at my multiple library systems are in overly high demand or non-existent, OR what’s available are not appealing or just plain suck. Alot of what was showing up on Netflix streaming was a thumbs down for me so I dropped it.

Two of Asimov’s series in print, season 1 of Outlander, and most of Sense8 come to mind for me.


message 21: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3040 comments Which two of Asimov's series if I may ask? I love them all but they do have distinct flavors. And "The End of Eternity" is a delicious capstone to his work, before publishers pulled a dumpster truck full of money up to his house and asked him to write more.


message 22: by Joseph (new)

Joseph | 2013 comments I do still reread, but these days I do less rereading (if for no other reason than because my library of unread books is now probably enough to keep me busy for the rest of my natural life), and when I do reread, it tends to be after a much longer pause -- when I was young, I'd read Lord of the Rings pretty much annually, but now the last time I read it was 2013 (so it's probably getting to be time again), and earlier this year I did a massive C.J. Cherryh reread, but in most cases they were books I hadn't read in 20 years, give or take.

At what point (if ever) does a book you've previously read become notionally unread? Ten years? Twenty? I know that going back to a book after that long of an absence is a very different experience than, e.g., the annual comfort reread.


message 23: by Caitlin (new)

Caitlin | 344 comments Joseph wrote: "At what point (if ever) does a book you've previously read become notionally unread?"

I was trying to figure this out, too. I'm re-reading the first two trilogies for Kushiel's Dart so I can get to the third trilogy, but it's been about a decade since I originally read them. I remember the broad strokes, but very little of the details.


message 24: by John (Nevets) (new)

John (Nevets) Nevets (nevets) | 1148 comments Joseph wrote: "At what point (if ever) does a book you've previously read become notionally unread? "

That is a very good question, and one that as I age I have become more and more aware of. Depending on the impact of the piece of art I may remember more or less of it, but it usually revolves more around themes, feelings, and maybe a rough plot, and less about the details, or true story telling. And this is true in both written works, as well as movies, tv series, and other story telling art.

It's part of the reason I’m enjoying going back through some of the sci-fi series of the late 90’s and early 2000’s now instead of getting caught in the allure of the next big thing. I’ve managed to finish up DS9, through season 3 of B5, and am really enjoying going through “Farscape” as well. Not to mention rereading some of “Sandman”, and when the power went out about a month ago I picked up a dead tree copy of “Name of The Wind” I had lying around. While I thought I remembered each of these, I’ve been blown away by how little I actually did. This is not to say I’m only imbibing in reconsumption, but I’m less apposed to it then I once was. And I do think that has at least partially with me getting older/ more mature.


message 25: by Joseph (new)

Joseph | 2013 comments John (Nevets) wrote: "While I thought I remembered each of these, I’ve been blown away by how little I actually did...."

Yeah, that's been my experience with a lot of things as well, and seems like a very good reason for rereading.


message 26: by Clyde (new)

Clyde (wishamc) | 345 comments A re-read can be a comfort read of course. But, I find that a re-read can also be a different experience, especially if considerable time has passed. Perspective changes with age.
Also, I like audio format for a re-read as it gives a different feel.

Humm ... Looks like 10 of my 57 books so far this year are re-reads.


message 27: by Trike (new)

Trike | 5686 comments Clyde wrote: "A re-read can be a comfort read of course. But, I find that a re-read can also be a different experience, especially if considerable time has passed. Perspective changes with age.
..."


That’s the old saying:

A book is different each time we read it; not because the book has changed, but because we have.


message 28: by Richard (new)

Richard | 91 comments I used to reread a lot when I was kid. When I only had an allowance and my local library had limited fiction!


message 29: by Mark Lawrence (new)

Mark Lawrence (marklawrence) | 21 comments Tassie Dave wrote: "
Wow, the author of my favourite series I've read this year :-)

Great work Mark :-) I loved Red Sister, Grey Sister, Bound and Holy Sister"


Great to hear!

Would you ever re-read them? :D


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2429 comments I rewatch far more than I reread. Lately it's been everything Ali Wong from her standup to the romcom "Always be my maybe."

If I'm going to relisten it will be my incessant obsession with an album for stretches of years at a time.

This has included:
Cranberries - No Need to Argue
Damien Rice - O
Hadestown - Original Broadway Cast Recording

Huzzah!


message 31: by Mer (new)

Mer | 75 comments John (Taloni) wrote: "Which two of Asimov's series if I may ask? I love them all but they do have distinct flavors. And "The End of Eternity" is a delicious capstone to his work, before publishers pulled a dumpster truc..."

Hi John,
The Robot and the Foundation series. Thanks for the prompt! Looking at my read history there's also Fantastic Voyage series that I like; Tales of the Black Widowers was an interesting concept but 1 book was enough for me.

I'll put The End of Eternity on my todo list.


message 32: by Mer (new)

Mer | 75 comments I find a book back in front of me when I open up my boxes of books and realize I only remember the main plot; all the subtle twists are fresh again.

Or when a new book comes out, like the huge gap in The Gunslinger series. You have to read them all before reading the new one. And I'll watch the last show or two of a tv series before watching the next season.


message 33: by Mer (new)

Mer | 75 comments Joseph wrote: "earlier this year I did a massive C.J. Cherryh reread..."
I'm a fan of Cuckoo's Egg and I have the Chanur series on my to-do list; what's your recommend Joseph? Is there another to consider?


message 34: by Joseph (new)

Joseph | 2013 comments Mer wrote: "Joseph wrote: "earlier this year I did a massive C.J. Cherryh reread..."
I'm a fan of Cuckoo's Egg and I have the Chanur series on my to-do list; what's your recommend Joseph? Is there another to c..."


I did the reread because she published Alliance Rising: The Hinder Stars I, the first new Alliance/Union book in 10-15 years. Chronologically, it's the earliest book in the series, so I read that and just kept going through the Chanur books.

Personal favorites include Downbelow Station and Alliance Space (Company Wars #2) (an omnibus of two books that happen shortly after Downbelow Station).

Outside of Alliance/Union, I'm also a big fan of The Complete Morgaine, which feel sort of like sword & sorcery, although they're actually SF if you scratch under the surface.


message 35: by Iain (new)

Iain Bertram (iain_bertram) | 876 comments I have a few comfort re reads.

Every few years I reread the heart of the Lensman series. OK I still want to be Kim...

I used to reread The Lord of the Rings. I used to pick up different themes as I have aged. E.g. Sam the hero...

Pratchett is a must on the regular reread front.


message 36: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Morgan (sayselizabeth) | 162 comments I re-read when I need comfort food, these days. As a teenager I re-read pretty much everything I owned, but these days it's a select few: Pride & Prejudice, Persuasion, and the Curse of Chalion. And sometimes I'll go back to Tortall, but because they're Old School YA they're super-quick to get through these days.


message 37: by Seth (new)

Seth | 58 comments Elizabeth wrote: "I re-read when I need comfort food, these days. "

Yep, this has been a common theme in this thread and I'm no different. I usually reread when I need a guaranteed non-stressful read. My one reread I maintain from childhood is The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen, I recently reread The Goblin Emperor and that worked really well. I also often revisit Jeeves and Wooster.


message 38: by chris (last edited Aug 28, 2019 05:38AM) (new)

chris (chrismikacle) | 2 comments One of my favorite quotes from The Secret History:

“It is is better to know one book intimately than a hundred superficially.”


message 39: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 555 comments I’ve re-read Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones dozens of times, most recently on a Slack buddy read hosted by Maggie Stiefvater.
Each time, as well as enjoying a great story, I notice new details.


message 40: by Caitlin (new)

Caitlin | 344 comments Ruth wrote: "I’ve re-read Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones dozens of times, most recently on a Slack buddy read hosted by Maggie Stiefvater.
Each time, as wel..."


I was tempted to do that, but I was intimidated by Slack.


message 41: by Arun (new)

Arun Divakar (arundivakar) | 1 comments chris wrote: "One of my favorite quotes from The Secret History:

“It is is better to know one book intimately than a hundred superficially.”"


This is absolutely true. The eternal re-read for me has always been Jurassic Park. I keep coming back to it once every two or three years !


message 42: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 5232 comments That would be a good list, most rereadable books.


message 43: by Dustin (new)

Dustin Manning (dustcc) | 1 comments There a few books that make me feel comfortable and ... cozy? When i re-read then. The top for me are Dune, Hitchhikers Guide, wolfs hour and several of Robert Cormiers novels.
I can go back to many of the books i read as a young adult and they seem to bring me some peace like when i go back to The Hardy boys and Tom Swift just for quick reads when I can’t seem to pick a new book.


message 44: by Trike (last edited Oct 11, 2019 02:33PM) (new)

Trike | 5686 comments I’ve been thinking for a few years now that I should sit down and intentionally reread some books that I really liked previously. Since hindsight is 20/20, I’m going to make that one of my reading challenges next year, aka 2020 AD. (How weird is it that we live in the future already?)

I’m just going to have to be cool with the enormous stack of books on my TBR going unread for a little while longer.

But I’ll still be buying new books. I’m afflicted with an incurable disease in that regard.


message 45: by Silvana (last edited Oct 11, 2019 06:44PM) (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) | 1233 comments Dara wrote: "Rebecca Jennings at Vox argues that it's not so bad to read the same book or watch the same tv show over and over.

"Basically, what all these critiques come down to is that with so many books a..."


I think I never reread on a whim. Too many books in my TBR.

I need reasons like:
1. There is a new book in the series, and the publication date is far from the last one so I would have forgotten the details. The latest example would be A Little Hatred. I reread book 1-5.

2. There's a reread discussion with my fellow fandom members, e.g. ASOIAF (I think I reread it thrice)

3. A new movie/series is coming. Latest example is Dune


message 46: by Richard (new)

Richard | 91 comments I recently read Ninefox Gambit. Then three months later I wanted to read the sequel but ended up rereading the first book to try to better wrap my head around what I'd read.


message 47: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Preiman | 341 comments John Barton said “you can never step into the same book twice, you are a different person each time you read it “ I find this quote to be absolutely true. life and the years change me, and even the books I read change me. Each time I read a book, the me I am now gets something from it that the me I was last time I read it could not. The Lord of the Rings feels completely different when I read it now then when I read it in my 20s, or my teens, or as a child. The book did not change, but this me had not read it yet, even if I knew the story already.

“So let us praise the distinctive pleasures of re-reading: that particular shiver of anticipation as you sink into a beloved, familiar text; the surprise and wonder when a book that had told one tale now turns and tells another; the thrill when a book long closed reveals a new door with which to enter. In our tech-obsessed, speed-obsessed, throw-away culture let us be truly subversive and praise instead the virtues of a long, slow relationship with a printed book unfolding over many years, a relationship that includes its weight in our hands and its dusty presence on our shelves. In an age that prizes novelty, irony, and youth, let us praise familiarity, passion, and knowledge accrued through the passage of time. As we age, as we change, as our lives change around us, we bring different versions of ourselves to each encounter with our most cherished texts. Some books grow better, others wither and fade away, but they never stay static.” Terri Windling


message 48: by Joshua (new)

Joshua Bryan | 4 comments So I enjoy re reading good books. If their are long breaks between books in a series I will start the series over to read the new book and have fresh what is going on in the story. I also re read HP yearly because that is what got me to start reading a lot as a kid and I love that series. Sometimes I will read the book on paper then do the audio book for the reread to see what I missed.


message 49: by Sky (last edited Oct 14, 2019 09:27AM) (new)

Sky Corbelli | 338 comments David wrote: "I need to read the Sam Vimes books. Didn't Pratchett eventually write that in-universe book you mention, John?"

Yes, it's called Where's My Cow? and it is the most chewed book in the whole world.

The book is pretty meta, although my two-year-old twins don't seem to mind its self-referential nature. As a bonus, they both know what Foul 'ol Ron and Coughin' Henry say. And it warms my heart to hear them both tell me, in unison, "I fink, therefore I am. I fink."


message 50: by Clyde (new)

Clyde (wishamc) | 345 comments Christopher wrote: "John Barton said “you can never step into the same book twice, you are a different person each time you read it “ I find this quote to be absolutely true. life and the years change me, and even the..."

What Christopher said. Need one say any more?


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