Sunday, June 20, 2010

The W's of Reading: The Great RE-read. When Do You Read it Again?

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm going to be teaching a Popular Young Adult Fiction class this fall, which I'm super "psyched" about!  It's a lot of work pulling a brand new curriculum together, but it will be such a fun class to teach that I can't wait.  As I've been preparing, I'm re-reading the AMAZING Harry Potter novels, and just can't tear myself away.  I have other things I need to be reading, TBR books I packed with me, other books I'll be teaching this fall, and so forth, but I just can't pull myself away.  Who knew that a RE-read could be so delightful?

I have to admit that I really enjoy re-reading novels, which is why I have a collection of books that I own.  If I really love them, I will absolutely return to them again, even if it's a fast skim read.  (You know, the one where you skim the descriptions and head to your favorite scenes?)  There are, on the other hand, books I just don't want to read again, or know I'll never make time for again.  In thinking about why this is, here are some of the reasons or criteria I use in reading a book...again:
  • I will sometimes immediately skim back over the book one last time, because I just can't part with it.
  • Some books need to "settle" before I read them again.  I have a lot of books that I like to put away for a year, two, ten, and then pull them back out to enjoy them again.  They are like movies you've seen one too many times that begin to lose their impact. If I set them aside, they gain back some of their pizazz!  
  • I have to teach it.  Honestly, I read books differently when I know I'll be teaching them.  I annotate them differently, I question them differently, and I see things differently than the first time I read them.  Generally, I enjoy that extra reading so much more than I would have expected.
  • In some cases, I have a favorite scene I want to read again.  For instance, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I love the scene where Voldermort and Harry's wands lock and he sees those Voldermort killed.  I have probably read that scene ten or twelve times (and I probably cried 90% of those times).  I also feel that way about the "flooded road" crossing scene in Tess of the D'Urbervilles when Angel carries the four girls over the water.  Sigh.  They both are just SO good.
  • It's a tradition!  I used to read the Little House of the Prairie novels every year, starting during the summer, ending by Christmas.  For eleven years, I did that, and it was because I knew every scene, they were comforting to me, and felt like family.  Strange?  Nah.  There are just some books that fit a season, or a tradition that I can't get away from and want to get into more by reading the book again.
  • I love it and am totally obsessed.  What else is there to say.  There are some books that I love and am probably a bit obsessive about, and could read a million times and not care.  You Pride and Prejudice?  Some books just make you feel better.
Here I am falling in love with the Harry Potter books all over again, but what about you?  What gets you to read a book again?  Do you like to read a book more than one time?  What books could you read over and over again?


  1. Becky! I love your new blog look!

    I don't re-read a lot--it has to be something I absolutely loved. Harry Potter is one of those I love & have re-read twice (and have the itch to read them again soon). Jane Austen. The Chronicles of Narnia. I'm thinking a re-read of The Lord of the Rings might be in order sometime in the future. Maybe George R.R. Martin's books before his next one comes out (since it's been so long). Same thing with Christopher Paolini's Inheritance series.

  2. I love rereading but I don't do it often enough. Two of my favorite books to reread is the Harry Potter series and East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Recently I read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz and When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead for the first time. After finishing both books, I felt the need to start over again. I read A Christmas Carol for the first time last year but I'm pretty sure I'll be rereading it as a tradition this year.

  3. My problem is that I re-read TOO much! I have many books that I absolutely love and I re-read quite often and it's hard to get to read new things. But like you said in your blog, it's like family and and there is a great feeling going back and "visiting" with old friends.

    I do have a bunch of re-read favorites but the most popular books I re-read are the Harry Potter Series and all of Jane Austen's.

  4. I reread childhood favorites like A Wrinkle in Time and The Chronicles of Narnia over and over again. It's like comfort food--familiar and delicious.

  5. I love the new bloglook, Becky! And I am also insanely jealous that you are teaching a popular YA fic. class. :) Can I come sit in??

    I am a SERIAL re-reader. I am all about mood and have to revisit some books and some characters or it feels like everything will come to a grinding halt. A lot of it depends on the season, tradition, because I can't it out of my head, basically the things you've mentioned. I think mostly some authors are just comfort reads for me--Robin McKinley, Sharon Shinn, Juliet Marillier, Ellen Emerson White, Mary Stewart. They're always at the top of my list.

  6. Katy -- Thanks! :) It was a lot of work getting things moved around. I like it for now, and have no plans of changing things for a very long time! Sounds like we're on the same page with the Harry Potter novels!

    Vasilly--Yay for Harry Potter! I can't say I would ever reread East of Eden though. :) You do have to love those books that you want to read again every season.

    Felicia--I love it that you enjoy rereading so much. That warms my heart to hear.

    Emilee--Oh, I love childhood favorites. I have had a couple that weren't as good as I remember, which scared me for a short time, but the ones I really love, I still do!

    Angiegirl--Thanks on both cases! I was ready for a new look, and I'm super excited about the new class this fall. It took me three years of lobbying to get more literature classes at the high school, so I'm excited we're starting up Popular Fiction and Science Fiction. I'm a bit of a goof as a teacher, so I don't know how much you'd enjoy sitting in! :) I love it that you are a passionate rereader! Do you skim, or do you sit down and read through the entire thing each time? Either way, it's so fun!

    Thanks guys for your great conversation. Love it!

  7. I don't re-read a ton but when I do it's usually because it's a book that I find comforting or brings back fond memories. Great post!

  8. I need to re-read more. There's just something so comforting about it. I'd do it a lot as a child, but in my adulthood the books I've re-read the most are probably the Harry Potter series. Yet sometimes I miss my old favourites so much. Just the other day I re-read Michael Cunningham's The Hours and it was a wonderful experience.

  9. I reread for comfort mostly, I think. Which is why I reread Jane Austen (I think I must know P&P by heart by now) and Harry Potter most of the time. I should consider rereading other novels as well, probably..

  10. Definitely right there with you on the re-reads. I have a rather large collection of books and thanks to blogging (and my shopping habits...hehe) it definitely tends to grow. Though re-reads don't happen as often as I would like right now, they have and will continue. Ones I've re-read several times over....Twilight series...The Forbidden Game series...Harry Potter series (actually kept re-reading the books in the series prior to each book release through book 5...). Then there are the re-reads done yearly...the number one on that list is A Christmas Carol. Yes,'s a past time, it's a fun's an addiction. ^_^

  11. I love to reread books, but I hardly do it anymore because of the towering TBR pile... which is one of the reasons it stresses me out.

    There are some books you would think I'd love to reread, but I don't. Jane Eyre, for example, is my absolute favorite book and I have no desire to reread it. I think I'm just afraid that it won't stand up to the first reading so I just leave it. I have read The Vampire Diaries and Night Train to Memphis dozens of times, though. Also all my mom's Mary Stewart books. :)

  12. It's pretty rare that I find myself re-reading a book, mostly because I don't find that I enjoy it the same the second time! Isn't that terrible? Somehow, the magic that totally enveloped me at first seems to lessen over time... and when I pick up a book again, it's not the same.

    With that being said, there are a few books I've re-read and loved -- like The Great Gatsby! And I still keep all my favorite books, even if I don't think I'll ever open them again. I just like knowing that they're there. :)