Re-reading seems to be a topic that often comes up for debate on book blogs and Goodreads. Actually, it came up very recently for myself too in a conversation I had with my boyfriend. We were talking about books we’d read, and he commented that he couldn’t understand how I can read the same books more than once and still get the same joy out of them. For him, because he has an excellent memory, it is impossible to re-experience the feeling because he remember exactly what will happen next. I wouldn’t necessarily say that re-reading a book is exactly the same as trying it for the first time, but it definitely has it’s own appeal.
Usually when I re-read a book, it’s been so long since I last read it that I can barely remember what happened. I don’t really understand people who can put down a book and then decide to immediately pick it up and read it again right away. The only exception to that for me was Hyperbole and a Half, but that’s not really a story so it doesn’t matter so much if you remember parts of it since it won’t spoil anything. Otherwise, it seems a bit odd to me to read a story, finish it, and then start it again since it would still be way too fresh in my mind.
I have quite a few books that I read so many years ago that I have little to no memory of, including books by favourite authors and books that I really enjoyed. I have quite a few Jodi Picoult books that I want to re-read because I loved them but don’t remember them at all. I’m also long overdue for a Harry Potter re-read! Because of my reading challenges, I haven’t read any Harry Potter (except for Cursed Child) for at least 3 years!! It’s a series that I’ve read enough times that I know it quite well, but it is still a lot of fun to re-read. I will never be able to recapture that experience of reading it for the first time, but reading a book again after I’ve forgotten most of it is pretty close.
I found this meme interesting because of the idea of “unreading” a book to get that experience over again. Not every book has such a strong impact on me that I’d want to have that experience again, but I can think of at least a few that I would love to read again for the first time. I guess instead the best we can hope for is to discover new books to experience for the first time and get that feeling all over again (while still making a dent in the TBR).
Another attitude I tend to experience quite a bit is “You have so many books to read already, why waste time on something you’ve already read??” The only real answer for this is simply because I want to. Sometimes I’m just in the mood to revisit an old favourite, and I genuinely believe you can get something new out of books each and every time you pick them up. This is definitely true when re-reading favourites at different ages or stages of your life, since you can relate to the characters differently. It’s risky of course (as the recent Simpsons episode about Marge’s old problematic favourite book indicates), since there’s always the chance your feelings would change, but in my experience, re-reading has usually just reminded me why I loved it in the first place.