Bad jokes aside, I am quite surprised at how many people don’t actually like to reread books. I’m equally surprised by how many of those readers think that I am weird because I do.
“A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.”
― Robertson Davies
I have always been a re-reader. I’ve read the Little House books several times over, as well as many of the Nancy Drew books. I have reread the first five Harry Potter books at least thirty times and the last two over twenty times. In fact, because I was in such denial the year after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published, I reread the entire series four times! In one year! I just didn’t want to leave Hogwarts.
A fair amount of people have asked me whether or not I get bored of reading the same books over and over. My answer is always the same: “how can I get bored of re-reading a book when each time I read it I discover something new?” Especially with Harry Potter, a new nugget of information is always unearthed with each read-through, even if it’s just a different way of looking at a particular scene or idea.
Here is an example:
Just a few nights ago, I finished rereading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (my favorite of the series). This current read-through is the first I have made in quite some time and the first since I have begun to fully-immerse myself in equality and feminist theory. I look at so many of the characters in a new way now, particularly the trio, Luna, Ginny, Molly, Professor McGonagall, Professor Dumbledore, and, yes, even the baddies like Umbridge, Voldemort, and Bellatrix. It’s almost like reading a completely different series.
Here is another example:
I don’t know about you, but when I re-watch movies that I watched as a kid, I always catch something that I never understood when I was younger. Especially when watching Disney movies…you know what I mean. The simple fact that I have “grown up” and “matured” means I will understand things in a way I never did before. The same goes for books.
“To reread a book is to read a different book. The reader is different. The meaning is different.”
― Johnny Rich
Each and every time you reread a book, you are a different person than you were the last time you read it. Even if you were to only read the same book over and over again. It is my far-from-professional opinion that reading changes you. Furthermore, during the interim between reads, you are always learning and experiencing new things and may learn something that furthers your understanding of a particular book, scene, or character. Four years after Goblet of Fire was published, a classmate of mine died. Two months after Deathly Hallows was published, I lost my grandfather. It was my first experience with death as an “adult” (I was seventeen). This current read-through of Harry Potter is also the first I have attempted since my mother died last year. I know reading Deathly Hallows will be extraordinarily more painful that it was before. It will be a whole new experience.
“…the reader who plucks a book from her shelf only once is as deprived as the listener who, after attending a single performance of a Beethoven symphony, never hears it again.”
― Anne Fadiman
The next time I read Harry Potter, Nancy Drew, or Little House on the Prairie, I will be a different person and it will be a different experience. If you are a reader who has never reread a book, I propose a challenge. Go and reread a book (or series) that your particularly enjoyed the first go around and see how different of an experience it is. If it’s not even a tiny bit different, let me know and I’ll erase the word “always.”
(C’mon, you had to know that was coming.)
Until then, Happy (Re-)Reading!
P.S. Comment below about your thoughts on rereading. I would love to hear everyone’s opinion!