Reading is a lot like dating. A new book is like a first date. You don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s exciting and nerve-wracking and intriguing and confusing. Sometimes the date is amazing and sometimes it is a total dud, but you can only discover that after you’ve lived through it. An old book, one that you’ve read before is like a stable, healthy, loving, long-term relationship. You know what you are getting, but it is still wonderful to experience it. You can connect deeper because of the familiarity and you feel safe and secure amongst the ups and downs.
Ok, I might have romanticized that metaphor quite a bit, but I stand by the point of it. New books are fun and wonderful, but rereading books is also worth your time.
I once met a girl in college (who is awesome and we totally clicked) who had never reread a book ever in her adult life. When she told me this I am pretty sure my mouth fell open and hit the floor. The thought didn’t compute in my brain. How could she resist diving back between the covers of her favorite novels? How could she fully appreciate the fantasticness of a story after only one read?. Her argument was simple, there are so many books in the world, why would she waste her time rereading something she’d already read.
I won’t lie, this is a super valid point. There are more books in the world than one could ever read, there are amazing sagas out there we won’t even know exist during our lifetimes. – Ah, that thought stresses me out! I don’t want to miss out on those stories! It makes me want to quit my job, go live in a tiny house filled with books and watch cats to make money to buy more books! – Ok, craziness aside this statement is true and it is something we all have to accept and live with. And true acceptance of this fact means that we are willing to invest our time in something familiar rather than always venturing off into something new.
We do this a lot in our lives outside of reading. I’ve never lived in Paraguay, or New Zealand or Japan or New York City. Does that mean I am going to pick up my life and try to spend every year living in a new place, just so I can experience them all? No, because while there is a lot to experience elsewhere – there is also a lot left for me to experience exactly where I am. I believe the same principle can be applied to books. There is a whole world of nuance, symbolism and character depth we can experience on the second read of a book and here are my top seven reasons why I think you should go back to your bookshelf and reread your favorite novel this fall.
- You need to recharge: If your summer was anything like mine it was busy, and fast and go go go. I feel burnt out. I am tired. This fall I am entering into a season of rest and recharging. Instead of wearing myself out tackling a new reading project – bombarding myself with the stresses and emotional roller coasters of the unfamiliar – I am retreating back into the comforting arms of my old friends who I know I can depend on.
- You will learn something new: Even though you’ve read a story before, I promise on your second, third, twelfth, and twenty-fifth reads you will catch something new from a story and you will still enjoy reading it. Even though you know how it ends, it is about the experience of getting there, not the destination itself.
- Respect: As a writer. you know how hard you work on your novel. Don’t you want readers to have the desire to peruse your pages more than once? Give your favorite author that same respect, they worked hard and created something you enjoyed, so allow them to entertain you again.
- Inspiration: There are some books that just inspire me to write, and whenever I fall into a writing rut I always return to reading them because it will remind me why I am doing this, what I am trying to accomplish and what my ultimate goal is.
- You will become a better writer: When you reread a book you can do so, not just for the plot elements and the external layers of character development, you can really dig in and read with a critical lens. For example, I have been struggling with the passage of time in my novel, the story takes place over a few months so I can’t detail out every day of my characters lives. But skipping large chunks of time has felt choppy, so I am rereading a book series that I know does this well to get a refresher on a good example of how this can be done right.
- You need practice rereading: You are going to be reading and rereading and rerereading your novel an innumerable number of times before it is ready to go out into the world, you might as well start practicing the art of rereading now so that you can do it with your own novel and not grow bored or tired or frustrated by it.
- You don’t want to forget: I am kind of obsessed with the Harry Potter series, as I am of the Harry Potter generation, and I will shamelessly tell you that I have read all of the books over a dozen times. I reread these books once every two-ish years because I don’t want to forget what these books mean to me. It is because of these books that I first realized my dream of writing. The first story I ever took from my head to the page was a complete plagiarism of The Sorcerer’s Stone (I was like 9 so I don’t feel too bad about this – I was trying!). These books are special to me and I don’t want to forget anything about them, or what they mean to me so I continue to go back to them and I continue to enjoy them every time I return. I’m sure there is a story out there that inspires you too, don’t forget about it, return to it.
After reading only new books so far all of 2016 I am excited to dive back into a few of my favorites and see how these familiar tales inspire my writing.
What about you? Do you love to reread books like me, or are you more of a one and done type of person? I would love to hear your reasons for reading the way you do! Join me in this fall challenge and let me know what book you are going to reread in the comments below. Happy reading and happy writing.
Stay Amazing my friends