A Love Letter to Re-Reading Books

Do you re-read books? For a long time, I would answer this question with a big NO and something about so many books on my TBR and not enough time to read everything once; why read something twice? (However, I had no problem rewatching Gilmore Girls from start to finish four times!) But over the last few years, I’ve gotten in the habit of picking up a book I’ve read before and I'll be the first to admit my younger self was wrong about re-reading. 

The benefits of re-reading

According to a survey, about 35 percent of people find comfort in re-reading books, and young people (18-24) are not only more likely to re-read but also happier to re-read. Revisiting books is also associated with feelings of comfort, relaxation, familiarity, and escapism. 

The power of re-reading makes sense. When we’re little we often re-read books over and over again to the point of memorization. (Insert: your favorite childhood book here.) Scholastic points out that reading makes characters in a story feel more like friends. It also helps fill in the gaps that may have been missed the first time and builds fluency, the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and proper expression. While these ideas may be in the context of benefits for little ones, I think they’re relevant and important for all ages -- two to 102. 

There’s also something oddly wonderful about reading a book and knowing what happens and how it happens. I find it allows my mind to focus on other details of the story: the story structure, the way certain sentences standout and others effortlessly build to the next, the character details that are so subtle they’re almost missed. It’s like you’re in on the scoop with the author! 

Same book, new you

Changes in your life can shift the way a story sits with you. For example, my sister says since becoming a mother she now relates to parents in books, movies, TV shows, whereas she used to relate to the children. In this sense, the experience of re-reading books is a wonderful touchstone on your personal growth and forever-evolving perspective. 

Just like it’s common to watch movies and TV series multiple times… or hike the same trail… or travel to the same destination…  and even if we remember the highlights, there’s always something new to discover in the book and in ourselves. 

All that said, some caution against re-reading a book that you once loved. A book that was once your childhood favorite could end up not appealing to you as much the second time. So consider this a warning! :) 

Interested in re-reading more books? Here are some tips! 

  • Start with something light. If you’re hesitant to re-read, pick something on the shorter end so it feels like an easier commitment. 
  • Think about what genre of movies you like to re-watch. Do you love re-watching suspense movies or romantic comedies? Of course, books and movies are very different but this can help guide you in a direction. 
  • Remember there’s no right or wrong way. One of my friend’s told me that if she likes a book, she re-reads it immediately. She said, “yep, I’ll go from the last page back to the first page as easily as I go from page 102 to 103.” I tend to wait a little longer until it feels a bit more “new” to me. 
  • Consider keeping certain books in a rotation. Some books I gravitate towards during certain times in my life. For example, I’ve read A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis multiple times when someone close to me has passed. 
  • Reflect. Re-reading shouldn’t feel like punishment. Give it a try and reflect on the experience. if you don’t like it, that’s OK. And if you do, that’s also OK! 

What are your thoughts on re-reading? For it? Not into it? Let us know in the comments!

1 comment

  • Love this, great reminder. Many stories feel different when re-reading them. And in an age of so many new things available all the time, we can forget to enjoy the familiar.

    Zach

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