Rereading Scares Me

I have a confession to make: I’m afraid to reread books. That’s not to say that I never do it; I used to reread books all the time. Sometimes it was by accident, and I wouldn’t realize until partway through the book that I had already read it once before. Most often, though, it was intentional.

If a new book in a series was coming out, I would read all of its predecessors to make sure that I was prepared for the new release. If a book that I adored was being made into a movie and I owned a copy of the book, I would reread it just before its release, even if that meant that I would sit in the theater and think wait, that never happened in the book. It was somewhat of a tradition to do this with the Harry Potter books each summer, so I’ve probably read that series twenty times by now.

There were some books that had such a profound impact on the way that I viewed the world (or, in some cases, myself) and would be my go-to book if I was faced with a particular issue or if I was feeling a certain way. The Perks of Being a Wallflower was my go-to book before high school started; when I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere and would never make friends, Charlie was there to listen. And now, after finishing A Monster Calls, I have somewhere to turn whenever I feel guilty for letting go and not thinking about my grandmother as much as I should.

When it comes to books that didn’t resonate with me on an emotional level, though, I’m always afraid to pick them up again – especially if they’re books that I liked when I was younger. An excellent example of this is Blue is for Nightmares, which I recently reviewed. The synopsis still appeals to my reading tastes, so the difference doesn’t lie with the book; it lies with me.

Reading a book is never the same experience twice: our mood, past experiences, and past reads all influence how much we enjoy a story. As we age, we become more critical readers and, more often than not, our reading tastes change. A book that we loved during childhood may not appeal to us today, and that’s okay. That being said, it’s still incredibly disappointing when you read a book that you remember loving, only to find yourself wondering how you could have enjoyed reading it. It’s like losing an old friend, so I consciously avoid putting myself in a situation where this could happen.

And, of course, now that I’m a book blogger, my to-read pile grows exponentially every day (or so it seems). I feel as though I can’t justify rereading books from my childhood – especially when I can still remember a lot of the details – because there are so many new releases that I’m excited to read and so little time to read them all.

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Now, it’s your turn: what are your thoughts on rereading? Are you braver about it than I am? Share your thoughts or stories in the comments below. : )

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18 Comments

  • My re-reading habits mirror yours in that I rarely read something twice now although I often used to revisit old favourites. I think for me it is mainly because I now know that there are many new ‘friends’ to discover in new books. My biggest disappointment was re-reading Heidi to my daughter; as a child I never realised quite how religious it was.

  • I re-read more than a lot of readers I know (but not as much as I used to before the TBR explosion of discovering Goodreads). But I definitely understand being reluctant to lose those cherished memories of the book, when the real thing may not be as wonderful this time around.

  • I never re-read books. Even if I want to, I always stop myself. I don’t know what it is but, like you said, I’m both afraid of being disappointed and sometimes, just of re-living the experience in general. Especially if the book was an emotional roller coaster. I’m just weak, I guess, but I hate subjecting myself to any kind of emotional torture, even if the book was one of my favorites.

  • I love rereading, and have done that with a number of books, including Catcher in the Rye (four times), The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (four times), most of Ernest Hemingway (two to four times), most of Fitzgerald (mostly twice), most of Steinbeck, et al. But these days, there is so much that I still haven’t read that it’s hard to justify reading something twice. I haven’t read any Cather, Buck, Dos Passos, Atwood, Durer, Durrell, Lee Child, Ben Bova, Niffenegger, Dan Brown. I haven’t read the history of Germany, Scandinavia, Singapore, Australia. I haven’t answered certain questions, like: How did the city-states unite to become Italy in the 1870s? Why is Russia such a mess and next-door Scandinavia such a success? How did Henry VIII’s mind and morals decay so badly? How did Truman beat Dewey? What happened in America from 1900 to 1929? So much reading, so little time.

    • That’s quite a list! I hope you find time to read them all.

      Italian unification is really interesting to read about, as is German unification. My personal favourite though is Russian history from the 1800s (when Alexander II was the czar) up to the Cold War. I actually wrote a paper examining the extent of Lenin’s responsibility for the October 1917 revolution a few years ago, and the research process was surprisingly enjoyable.

  • Why wouldn’t it be justified to re-read old books you once loved? There are no rules when it comes to reading, perhaps only: ENJOY πŸ™‚ You should do what feels good to you. I revisit old books when I feel like it, just because it’s great to see the world and the characters again πŸ™‚ And yes, there are so many books waiting to be published and there are endless amounts of books I still want to read, but that doesn’t stop me from re-reading once in a while πŸ˜€

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  • I love rereading! I used to read the Anne of Green Gables series every Christmas/winter break! I’ve reread Pride and Prejudice I don’t even know how many times! I used to reread a lot more often but like you and most bloggers there are just so many new books to read and worlds to discover! I think I’ll always make time to reread favorites, but just make sure to do it when the time is right. I can see growing and feeling differently about some books and that wouldn’t be great but I guess that’s a risk you have to take sometimes and hope your favorites stand up! Great post!

  • I don’t reread a lot, but that’s to preserve the specialty of my books πŸ™‚ I’m actually scared of rereading some of them, just in case I don’t get the same feels, and start liking the books less D: So yeah… I’m a fraidy cat XD

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