Reasons to Re-read

If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.  —Oscar Wilde

I have friends who aren’t very avid readers (at least one or two), and sometimes they look at me very strangely when I tell them I’m about to re-read a book for the 10th time. I guess I’ve never thought that it was strange, but given that some people do, I thought I’d list my reasons.

Reasons I re-read:

  • It’s like watching a great movie again. People watch movies mutliple times and nobody blinks an eye. The same reasons for watching movies again apply to books. You get to see the great scenes in your mind’s eye again. You get to watch the build-up again. You get to “hear” the great lines that the main character says. All those apply to books as well as movies.

  • You can pick up on things you missed. Books, even more than movies, rely on foreshadowing, irony, and symbolism. These techniques may be lost on the first reader, because they don’t know what’s coming up. Reading a book a second or a third time lets you pick up on those things.
  • You can figure out what the heck was happening. Certain books are very complex from a plot and character standpoint. Take, for example, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. I challenge anyone to read this book one time and be able to tell me about every machination and sly manipulation of events that happens throughout the book. There are too many of them. Re-reading a book allows you to focus on the side stories a bit more than the main story and pick up on some of the more complex aspects.
  • You can “listen” to the language. The first time you read a book, you’re reading it for the story. After you’ve read the book for the story, truly great books can be read again just to listen to the language of the writing. Writers know how to create concrete images with their words. Great writers do that, but do it with amazing phrasing and imagery. Great writers can do in a sentence what other writers take pages to do.
  • It can refresh your love of reading. Sometimes, after forcing yourself through a slow book, where reading each new page is like climbing a mountain, you forget how fun reading can be. Maybe it’s you, or maybe you were just reading a bad book. Then, you grab a great book that you’ve read before and speed through it, excited to get to the next page, and you realize — yup, that other one was just a bad book.

Do you re-read books? Are there reasons other than these that you do? Tell us in the comments.

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