Some people define themselves as “re-readers”, always finding reasons to come back to the same stories again and again. Others just don’t see the point. However, there may be a number of reasons why re-reading an old favorite might make for a better reading experience.
1. They make for a comfortable read.
Books can be challenging, thought-provoking, troubling, hilarious – but let’s face it, sometimes you just want a comfortable journey into a familiar story. Like talking with a good friend, returning to an old story can be a retreat into a happy world, and that’s sometimes exactly what you need.
2. There’s a reason you first connected with the book.
There’s a reason the story first stuck with you, whether it was the evocative language, a particularly gripping character, or a provoking message. Returning to a book that stirred you can reawaken the meaning the story first had. It may be that the meaning has faded over time and doesn’t speak to you in quite the same way anymore, but if it does, you know that it’s a winner – a story that endures through your own personal changes and still manages to touch your heart or stir your mind.
3. You notice things that went over your head before.
Stories are complicated things, with plenty of details and patterns that aren’t always immediately obvious to first-time readers. Returning to a book whose story you already know gives you the chance to look at the plot with a more discerning eye. Re-reading an Agatha Christie novel, for example, can offer an opportunity to notice the author’s clues – even though you already know the ending. It’s a chance to notice more details and find meaning in them, like getting a subtle wink from the writer.
4. It’s an opportunity to look around and soak in more of the story.
Sometimes, reading a book for the first time is about processing text and getting through the story. It’s like staring out the window of a moving train, focusing on going forward and pressing on to the end of the journey. A second reading can be an opportunity to look around and really take in your surroundings, soaking in the world of the story instead of just comprehending text.
5. Sometimes, you just didn’t get it the first time.
Stories are complex beasts, and authors have a message that they want to send. Complicated themes weave through books, and sometimes, we’re just not at a point where we get it. It might be a matter of youth – try explaining the agony of Mercutio’s death speech to a twelve-year-old – or maybe, in the interim, we’ve had some experiences that give us more insight into what the author is trying to say. Regardless, a second reading can offer a better look into the real meaning of the story.
6. As we change, stories change for us.
There’s no doubt that people change through their lives. At times, we may not even feel like the same person we were ten, five, or even two years ago. We might read a book twice in a fifteen-year period and find different meaning in it each time. Sometimes a change in life experience or worldview affects how we read a story. Sometimes it speaks to us in a different way because we’ve shared experiences with the characters, like love, sickness, or heartbreak.
What are some reasons that you return to old favorites?