Bookish Musings: Pros and Cons of Rereading Books

 
 
The topic of rereading may not be the most original one, it's been widely discussed I'm sure, but *I've* never discussed it, so it seemed as good a choice as any. I'm actually in the middle of rereading one of my favorite series now, so the timing was perfect, plus it means you can trust me because I'm totally an expert on the topic ;-)

I never used to reread because I only thought of the drawbacks, but I started to in the past couple years and have discovered there are quite a few reasons I actually love it! As per usual, I'll share my thoughts, and then I can't wait to hear yours :-)
 

 

Pros of Rereading:

 

1. You get to notice all the little things you didn’t before.

This is actually my favorite thing about rereading. The first time you read, you’re trying to absorb so much because you know nothing about the story yet, but that causes you to miss a lot little things. When you read a second time, you’re not bogged down by the sheer amount of information. You also notice the foreshadowing and clues that you missed before.

2. You get to see things in a new perspective.

Once you know what’s going to happen and really know the characters, their feelings, their motivations, etc., you get to see all the events and actions in the story in a completely new perspective. I’m definitely noticing that in my current reread. The first time I read the first book, I was completely on edge because there were so many secrets and shady things that I didn’t even know who to trust, but now I have an understanding for the characters are and why they did the things they did, bringing a new depth to the book.

3. You’re reminded of all the little things you forgot.

You forget more than you realize. At least I do. Even reading a book a few months apart, I come across a whole bunch of little things I forgot. Yeah, I still remember the sequence of events, the characters, and the big things, but I forget little scenes here and there, conversations, emotions of the characters, etc. This is especially useful if you’re about to read the next book in a series as those little details can make all the difference.

4. It’s comforting.

I used to think I didn’t have “comfort reads,” but it turns out rereading a book you love actually can be comforting because you already know you’re going to love it and don’t have to stress over how it will end or if it will disappoint you. Certain books make you happy, and being in a world with characters you love just feels like home.

Cons of Rereading:

 

1. It takes time away from new books.

And let’s face it, we all have more books on our TBRs than time to read them. But of course we want to read as many as possible!

2. There’s no suspense or surprise factor.

You already know what’s going to happen, and that does make the book lose something. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still plenty easy to feel emotion, sadness, grief, etc. when a character almost dies or a couple breaks up or something bad happens, even if you already know it’ll all work out in the end, but a reread is never quite the same as the first time. And twists are obviously not going to have any effect.

3. You might be disappointed.

Our experiences changes us, and, over time, our taste in books might change. It can be disappointing to reread a book you once loved and find it lacking or even to struggle to get through it.

 
 

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Do YOU reread books?
What do you like and dislike about rereading?

 

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40 thoughts on “Bookish Musings: Pros and Cons of Rereading Books

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  1. Sara@LibraryHuntress

    I don’t re-read books, with one exception (I’ve read through Terry Pratchett’s 40+ book Discworld series multiple times throughout HS/college). There’s just so many books out there that I haven’t read yet, I just can’t make myself spend time with books I’ve already read. There’s just never enough time sigh… :)

    Sara@LibraryHuntress recently posted: Saying Goodbye to YA? Maybe, Sort Of

    1. Kristen Burns

      There are 40+ books in the series, and *that’s* what you choose to reread?! Lol. There is definitely not enough time for all the books I want to read, but eh, there still won’t be enough time even if I don’t reread, so I figure I might as well get the most enjoyment I can from some :-P

  2. Liz @ Freyja Eats Books

    I did start with some re-reads, some because I don’t remember them any more and wants to continue the series, but others because I loved the series very much and want to experience that feeling again,

    I know that there are many others, but some books really are worth the time to re-read :) Why else have something in your bookcase if you never plan on reading it again ?

    I do agree on the chance of a disappointment factor, I started some books that I loved before and I could not even finish it now ! But it shows that I have grown as a reader, and have more experience now that tells me the difference between something really good and just BS ^^ And I do think that is worth it, especially when the book is even better than you remember it :)

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, I’ve done both those types of rereads too. When you’ve forgotten enough about a book, it really is almost like reading it for the first time again. That’s why I reread the Harry Potter series in 2014. But others I just reread because I just know what to expect and know it’ll make me happy. And exactly! I own the books, I might get my money’s worth :-P

      I’ve had the disappointment thing happen on a few books and couldn’t finish them either, but I just remind myself that even though I don’t like it now, it was something that meant a lot to me at one point and shaped me in some way, so I still keep that kind of nostalgia for it. And having the book turn out is better is great!

  3. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I can’t believe you didn’t used to be a fan of rereading! I used to be a huge fan of rereading, but since I started blogging I’ve struggled to find the time to do so. I agree that I tend to do so for comfort reasons, there is something so nice about revisiting an old favourite. I like to rewatch my favourite films and I am the same about reading my favourite books, it’s like seeing an old friend. I know it’s risk that with some books you’ll feel let down the second time around in reading, but that’s a risk I am willing to take. It rarely happens, and the enjoyment I get from rereading tends to be worth it.

    1. Kristen Burns

      So our rereading habits are opposites since you used to reread but hardly do now, and I didn’t used to but do now lol. It is like seeing an old friend! I like that metaphor. It’s like, you’re comfortable with the book, you know what to expect, you can simply sit back and enjoy it. I too think the possible disappointment is worth the risk :-)

  4. Amber Elise @ Du Livre

    I have not reread a book in years. Seriously, I think the last one was Angelfall in 2012. Mostly because my mind just KNOWS that I could be reading other books instead. But I definitely see the pros, I always wish I had reread a book while reading the sequel. So many things I forget!

    Amber Elise @ Du Livre recently posted: Amber Reads Her Shelves: February

    1. Kristen Burns

      I get it, that’s definitely the biggest drawback, the anxiety of knowing I’m missing the opportunity for new books lol. But I the benefits are worth it for some books. For series, it depends. If I read all the books in the series fairly close together but then the last takes a while, or if the first few books were really confusing and detailed, or if I LOVED them, I just reread all the previous books before reading the finale so that I can get the full effect without forgetting things.

  5. Greg

    I used to reread favorite books but not so much anymore. Of course now there are more books, plus blogging. :) And… I do worry that a book might not hold up as well, and have actually had that happened a few times. So yeah but if I like a book enough I might do it.

    I am rereading one right now and I agree about the foreshadowing and little things. And yes little things that take on a whole new meaning once you know the big picture. That is a pretty big benefit I have to say.

    Greg recently posted: A Dance with Dragons

    1. Kristen Burns

      It’s funny that I reread more now that I blog lol. I have read some books that I loved in high school though and ended up being really disappointed the second time around, so it does happen. But I still have a nostalgic affection for them, even if I wouldn’t recommend them to people.

      YES! Seriously, that benefit is so underrated. It adds so much to the books and makes me appreciate them so much more.

  6. Joan @ Fiddler Blue

    I agree with all the pros you listed! :) I re-read books from time to time, and if I do that means it’s on my favourites’ list. TBH, I find it a waste of my money if I don’t read a book more than twice, and I contemplate selling the book or donating it to the library. I feel like the book may have been good enough, like a 4 or 5 star, but did not leave a lasting impression that warranted a rereading, or like I found everything I needed to find the first time…if that makes sense.

    Joan @ Fiddler Blue recently posted: I Want These Love Stories In My Books

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yes! I understand everything you’re saying. Some books, even when I absolutely LOVE them, are still not the type I want to reread, for whatever reason. I think it could be what you said about having found everything I needed the first time. Whereas other books might not be AS good, but they have hidden depth, or you’ve learned more about the characters now that’s changed your perspective. I read mostly ebooks though, so I at least don’t have to worry about them taking up space if I don’t reread them :-P

  7. Bookworm Brandee

    I love that you picked this to talk about, Kristen. :D I have one book that I’ve always allowed myself to reread – Pride & Prejudice. Yep, it’s a comfort read for sure. (my husband asks me “did it end differently this time?” after every reread) But otherwise, I’ve always told myself ‘no rereading’ because it gets me too far behind on everything else. (which is funny because I get hardcovers of books I think I’ll reread – and they never get reread) HOWEVER, this year I gave myself permission to reread whatever I want. And it’s liberating! *ha* I reread Rock Chick in January (because I’m going back to read KA’s books in the recommended reading order since I didn’t do that the first go-round) and I actually loved it even more the second time around. There were so many things I’d forgotten, and I felt as though I understood the characters even better this time. So despite the cons of rereading, I’m going to continue to do it. It makes me feel *good* (so far) and there’s nothing wrong with that, right?!? ;)

    Bookworm Brandee recently posted: Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #31

    1. Kristen Burns

      I’m so glad you’ve allowed yourself to reread this year! I did reread some books last year, but that was because the finale was coming out, and I wanted to make sure I remembered everything. Right now is my first reread of an entire, completed series, and I had been postponing because I was all worried about review copies and new books… but it is liberating to just read what you want. Definitely nothing wrong with that! We read because it’s fun for us and we love it, so you should definitely do what makes you feel good :-D

      Your husbands question is funny. I can definitely see this one person I know saying that same thing lol.

  8. Lola

    Wow what a coincidence, I just wrote a post on this topic last week. Although my post won’t be posted till March. I don’t re-read much, mostly because there are so many new books I still want to and have to read. I do enjoy re-reading books though, I just hardly ever make time for it. And yes all those reasons you listed are exactly what I love about re-reading, noticing things you didn’t notice before, seeing things in a different perspective and all the foreshadowing has much more impact when you know what’s it building up to. And yes it’s so comforting, like returning to a book or world you already know and love.

    Maybe if I can stay ahead with review posts I can actually make time for re-reading, but for somw reason I usually prefer to read a new book than one I have already read, even though I do enjoy re-reading. I have re-read Kelley Armstrong her darkness Rising series, I re-read book 1 when book 2 was released and re-read book 1 and 2 when book 3 was released. Oh and Karen Marie Moning her fever series, I re-read the whole series once. I also re-read the earlier Happy Potter books a few times. So far I haven’t been disapointed when re-reading books as I usualy only re-read books I loved, there are some books I probably won’t re-read as I don’t think I would enjoy them as much now. Great post!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Wow, you’ve got post already written out a month in advance and meanwhile I didn’t even know I was going to write about this until like two hours before I posted it, haha. But anyway, my favorite types of books are the ones that have depth, and the little things are more meaningful to me than the big plot, so finding all those little things and foreshadowing is the best.

      I have done the whole rereading a series in preparation for the last book thing a couple times too. And though I also mostly read new books, there are some books that I just love so much that I just want to go back to them. The only ones I’ve been disappointed by are books I loved in high school but then tried to reread 5 or 6 years later. But the ones I’ve read more recently and then reread, I’ve still loved. Oh! But I did also reread Harry Potter in 2014. I originally read them as they came out (I was 8 when I started reading them), so I hardly remembered them at all, and rereading those was actually what rekindled my love of reading and reminded me how great it was. Thanks! And thanks for joining in, I’ll look for your post in March :-)

      1. Lola

        I try to stay two months ahead with Lola’s Ramblings and Lola’s Kitchen posts. I can’t focus and get inspiration to write posts when I am not ahead. I know I am weird, but hey if it works. With Lola’s Advice I have them scheduled till June at the moment.

        btw I am receiving your replies to my comments normally now, I removed them from spam a few times, but they land in my inbox nowadays.

        I agree those little things and foreshadowing are more obvious when re-reading a book. And yes I can imagine that books you read that long ago might be more disapointing when you read them later and they aren’t as good as you remembered. There are a few books I don’t plan on re-readign as I think I won’t enjoy them as much as I did when I first read them. I still plan to re-read the whole Harry Potter series in english once as I’ve only read them in dutch so far.

        Lola recently posted: My To-Be Read List #18: poll

        1. Kristen Burns

          Wow! You are so far ahead with your posts. I’m… so not lol.

          Thank you for letting me know about the comment replies! I’ll test it later and see if it’s any different now with my email.

          I agree that some books are not ones I’d reread, but the ones I didn’t like upon rereading were ones I didn’t remember well and wanted to see if I still liked them, what it was that I loved so much before, etc. So it was disappointing, but I just chocked it up to my tastes changing or me just having more discerning taste now and liking specific things.

  9. Kaja

    I re-read books quite often, it’s a really comforting thing for me. I know all the characters and it feels like I’m returning to old friends. I sometimes skip over less-interesting parts (or skim-read them, anyway), so I get to the good stuff faster, and I might not re-read the entire series, for example.
    I am sometimes afraid of re-reading childhood favourites, because I feel like my tastes have changed, but so far I’m doing okay (I’ve been re-reading Roald Dahl and Astrid Lindgren, the two authors I probably read the most as a kid).

    Kaja recently posted: My January

    1. Kristen Burns

      I think it was actually on your blog that I said I didn’t have comfort reads lol, but clearly I take that back. I still think new books are a better distraction, but books you know and love really are comforting. It does feel like returning to old friends or family. I’ve done the skipping less interesting parts thing in certain movies I’ve rewatched :-P

      I’m glad you’re still liking your childhood favorites. I’ve not had good luck with my childhood or even high school favorites. Apparently my tastes have changed a lot, but I still feel a nostalgia for the books even though I don’t care for them now.

  10. C.J. @ ebookclassics

    I still think it’s still interesting to discuss this topic. I rarely re-read books because like you said there’s so many new-to-me books on my list. Occasionally, I’ll re-read a book because I’ve forgotten whether I liked it or not, and want to experience the story again.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yep, that’s definitely one of the reasons I’ve reread books! It’s weird knowing you once read and/or loved a book but having no clue what actually happens in it. In those cases, it’s almost like reading for the first time.

  11. Emma

    I love re-reading my favourite books! I totally agree with what you said though—it does take away from getting through my TBR list, and I do sometimes find I don’t like a book as much the second time around which is SUCH a disappointment! But certain books I just can’t get enough of: I could re-read Jane Austen’s books a million times and never get bored!

    1. Kristen Burns

      If it weren’t for that whole taking-away-from-our-TBR-time thing, I would do so much more rereading! I have one series I’m dying to reread but am also terrified because I really don’t want to be disappointed, but it’s worth the risk. And you’re right, there are certain books that just never get old!

  12. Wendy

    It’s weird to me that as a child I re-read constantly, and as an adult, basically never. Which means, among other things, that I remember those favorite childhood books much better than anything I’ve read in the last twenty-thirty years.

    The exceptions are when I read books with a class I’m teaching, which sometimes means I’m reading the same section of the same book several times a day. That’s when I definitely start noticing all sorts of little things–foreshadowing, and character nuances, and also things like author’s word choice or rhythm of their language, which is all stuff I’d NEVER get reading for my own enjoyment. I teach middle school so these are still YA books, but not the same books I was reading as a kid in the seventies. Also, my daughter has started getting into the Harry Potter series, so I’ve re-read the first book to her twice, and watched the movie (I also rarely re-watch movies), so I’m feeling like I’m getting a really in-depth Potter experience despite being an adult when it first came out.

    Wendy recently posted: Beloved Authors of Room A7

    1. Kristen Burns

      That’s interesting. I feel like I never reread as a child, so I don’t remember any childhood favorites.

      You’ve made me wonder what I might find if I read the same book or sections of a book that many times. Now I understand why teachers always had all these interpretations of the authors’ meanings! I love that you’re having an in-depth Harry Potter experience though, haha. At least there are lots of little details and things to look for in HP.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Sometimes they do lose the magic, but sometimes they’re even better, so it’s worth the risk to me :-) It is disappointing those times when the book isn’t as good though, so I understand why you don’t do it. Thanks for joining in!

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  14. Alexandra @ Literary Legionnaire

    I’ve always been afraid of rereading, mostly because of the three reasons you mentioned in your post, but I have reread once and I definitely agree with your pro points too. I reread the book more so I could relearn all the details of the story so I could finish a series, but I ended up liking it better the second time around, so maybe rereading isn’t all bad! This was a wonderful post, Kristen! I still don’t think I will reread often (since I do have a huge amount of books I need to read for the first time), but I’l definitely see rereading in a new light now.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yay, I’m glad you liked the book so much when you reread it! Details and little things in books are so underrated, but they make so much difference. I don’t reread *often* either because new books are too hard to resist, but it’s definitely a great sometimes thing :-)

  15. Blaise

    I adore rereading. I love visiting familiar characters and world and voices. As you said, it’s really comforting. I also really like being able to discover the new things about old friends; because I change between readings, I’m not going to have the same experience.

    I also wanted to address your cons–because I personally don’t see them as such. I will never have time to read all the books I want to read. I’ve come to terms with that, so why should rereading a book I know I’ll at least like be a bad thing? At the very least I’ll have some nostalgia.

    I don’t read to be surprised. Many books I read aren’t surprising the first time around, so the second time lacking that isn’t missing anything. For me, if a book relies on surprise to be enjoyable, it’s definitely missing something.

    But then, part of quality, is for me, the ability to enjoy upon re-experiencing.

    Blaise recently posted: On Book Hauls

    1. Kristen Burns

      Exactly, you always find new things and experience the book in a different way! I love that aspect.

      Part of me still knows that I’m missing out on new books I could be reading and potentially loving, but the other part of me feels the same way as you. I know I’ll never get to every book I want to read, so I might as well enjoy the ones I know I love.

      I still have to disagree with the other point though. Maybe surprise wasn’t the right word, but, when I already know exactly what’s going to happen, what the characters feel, how the relationships work out, who dies, etc., the book loses some of the impact. However the depth added upon knowing these things and noticing the subtle detail makes up for it and can sometimes add even more impact in a different way. Thanks for joining in :-)

  16. Eva @ All Books Considered

    Completely agree with this although I love to re-read (it is hard when you have ARC deadlines, though)! I have only been disappointed once or twice by a re-read because I mostly re-read my absolute favorites. Great discussion idea!!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, I have an ARC waiting right now because I got in when I was already in the middle of my series reread, so it’s stressing me out a bit, haha. I have been disappointed, but those were books I had read in high school and didn’t really remember, and I guess my reading taste changed quite a bit since then! My more recent rereads have gone well :-) Thanks!

  17. Terri M.

    I re-read by listening! :) Because of the #ShelfLove Challenge I’m trying to conscious of my book buying habits and my library has a limited audiobook collection that just so happens to have some of my favorite already-read-books. So my drives to work are usually filled with books I’ve read and am now rediscovering on audio. I love the one I’m listening to now…it’s a full cast not just a single person reading the story. It’s like having live theatre in my car.

    I do love discovering little things I didn’t notice before when I do re-read. I re-read The Book Thief recently and came across a chapter I totally didn’t remember. It was so beautifully written I wanted to cry.

    Re-reading is fun, but it is hard when you are torn between other new shiny books!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh that’s an interesting idea! That way you’re experiencing the book in a whole new way. I didn’t even know there were audiobooks that had full casts like that. I imagine that would actually make for a more exciting audiobook experience.

      And yes! Sometimes it’s not just new details you notice but parts that are more beautifully written or emotional than you remember. But it IS hard when you know that the books you’re rereading are taking away your chance to read new ones!

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