Saturday, March 1, 2014

Is Re-Reading Worth My Time?

It's an age old question and many-a-Goodreads friendships have been broken over it.

Okay, that's a little bit dramatic, but this question does spark lots of debate in book-lover circles.

Is re-reading worth it when there are so many other books to read?

I say yes, especially if you're a writer. If you follow me on Goodreads, you'll know that I recently re-read Terrier by Tamora Pierce. Before this last re-read I had read this book once already and listened to it on audio book. This book is my happy book.

A gif expression of how I feel about my Happy Book
Happy Book:
[hap-ee boo k]
A happy book is like your happy place, but instead of happiness being in the caverns of your mind, this happiness is bound up nice and neat between paper covers (or in your e-reader, if you're one of those people). This is the book that you find yourself returning to again and again after rereading other sub-par novels.

We all have our happy books that beg to be reread, but sometimes we feel guilty in rereading. I always think that I shouldn't be "wasting" my reading time by reading a book I've already read. I had a teacher who told me that the only real reading was re-reading. I don't know if I'd go quite that far, but I have learned that reading a book again is not a waste of time, but a whole new reading experience (even though you already know the story).

The first read is all about experiencing the story and getting caught up in the emotions and suspense. It's about the entertainment and suspension of disbelief. The sheer enjoyment of it all.

My first thoughts on Terrier:
AHHHHH!! THIS IS AWESOME! I want to live in Corus, Tortall!! Why can't we have night markets? I want to be a mind I just want to read about awesome kick-butt cops like Beka, Clary and Tunstall! Rosto the Piper *sigh*. That ending... *SPOILER* was behind it all?!

The second read (aka the re-read) is more of a sober read. Not only does it give you a chance to enjoy the story again (especially if it's been awhile since the first read) it gives you chance to analyze the different techniques that the author uses to pull the reader in. For example, foreshadowing. You already know what the end result is so you can see how all the clues throughout the story add up to the final conclusion. Re-reading gives you the chance to truly understand why the book is so great.

My thoughts after re-reading Terrier:
Wow, this setting is great. It's great because Pierce really developed the histories behind everything, even though I don't learn everything about Corus, I feel like it existed before this story started. The setting is also enriched because of how the characters talk; the word usage and sentence structure lets me know when we're in the slums or Lower City. I should try adding some new words to my characters' speech patterns and develop my setting's history more...

Once you have examined and understand the ingredients to a great book you can apply it to your own writing. I find it helpful to use a folded piece of paper as my book mark while I'm re-reading, so I can keep notes about aspects that I really love as I'm reading. For a bit of a different experience, you can also try listening to the audio book for the second time around; this works especially well if you really enjoyed the character dialogue like I did for Terrier. Reading like a writer often means re-reading books that you love.

How about you, are you a re-reader? What are your "happy books"? What are your thoughts on re-reading? Let me know in the comments.

Reading: Game by Barry Lyga
Listening: Jon Foreman
Watching: Republic of Doyle


  1. I don't reread...*sobs* Sometimes I'd like to, but for me I just plain and truthfully don't have the time. And I want to read NEW things. I have a serious book obsession, and, you know, I conquered that one, so next, please? I did re-read the first 2 Divergent books before I read Allegiant, mostly because I'd read them too fast the first time. It was pretty awesome getting back into the world and characters again, and I so did miss them! So I'm torn. To reread or not to reread. I think I'd do more of it if I had the time.

    1. Ack! I totally understand where you're coming from! It's such a battle. I love re-reading (obviously), but the pull of a shiny new book is often too strong to resist.
      I usually end up settling for two or three re-reads a year, and I like to reread books for school assignments whenever possible (it makes the work so much easier).

      If you have to be selective with re-reading, Divergent was definitely a good choice:) Thanks for sharing!

  2. I actually re-read a lot! For a few reasons, when a new book comes out in a series, and it's been a REALLY long time since I've read them, I'll usually re-read to remember all the details of the story. When I really enjoy a book, I'll re-read, not often because there are a lot of other books to read, but once in a blue moon. And finally, when I don't like a book...and I know this one is weird. But after reading it the first time, I'll usually put it down for a few months, then give it another shot. Just to see if things changed for me. Awesome post!


    1. I have a TERRIBLE memory when it comes to series so I too re-read for that reason.
      Hmm... I never thought of re-reading books that I didn't like. I can see how it helps, though, to be in a different mindset when you return to a so-so book.

      Great comment:)


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