So you can read my books

Thursday, February 28, 2013


Some writers claim that those who re-read are arrogant, narrow-minded, or dim.

Arrogant in that they have read all the good books out there. 

Narrow-minded in that they insist
on staying in their own narrow area of reading pleasure. 

Dim in that they didn't get the book's
full measure the first time.

For me, reading a favorite book for a second time often feels like a different experience -

now scientists say that it actually IS different.

The habit of watching films or reading books multiple times encourages people to engage with them emotionally.

The 'second run' can offer profound emotional benefits, says a new study, based on interviews with readers in the U.S. and New Zealand.

By enjoying the emotional effects of the book more deeply, people become more in touch with themselves.

Few would question looking at a great painting twice, or watching a favorite movie again and again.

But, perhaps because rereading requires more of a commitment than giving something a second look,

 it is undertaken in the face of guilt-inducing awareness of all the other books that you should have read at least once but haven’t.

But to me, an authentic life contains no "should's" only those rare
fragile moments that "could" exist if we but brave the censure of
the milling masses.

“If you would tell me the heart of a man, tell me not what he reads, but what he rereads.”

François Mauriac


“One cannot read a book: one can only reread it.”

- Naboko


“What a scholar one might be if one knew well only five or six books.”

- Flaubert

What books appear on your reread list?
Are they bound by a common theme?
What do these books say about you?


  1. I admit I rarely re-read a book. I did read the LOTR trilogy again before seeing the movies. And I have gone back and read some of Terry Brooks' Shannara books.

  2. I freely admit to re-reading. Why, if I fall in love with the world and characters an author has created, would I choose to never visit again?

    Just to name a few, I read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest about once every year or so. I've read the LOTR cycle three times now (but the Silmarillion only once), and have been twice to the Dark Tower through seven books with Stephen King, and the same for Harry Potter and his band. I've been to the world of Imajica three times now, with a craving building right now to go back again and, since you bring up Mr. Gaiman - I've read Neverwhere five times now in all its various iterations.

    (But I also seek out and read "new" too!)

  3. Nah, not a crime. I don't re-read things but that's just cause I don't have enough time already to do the things I want to do.

  4. The world is full of opinions, including mine. Read 'em and leave them behind.

    I want to re-read Asimov's Foundation series, and JP Sartre's Iron in the Soul. Haven't yet. I read them years ago.

    It's more the time element that makes a difference, than the opinions of others. Some times you have to please yourself, and ignore others.

  5. I reread all the time. I don't buy a cd and listen to it once; I don't buy a DVD and watch it only once. Why would I read a book only once? There is always something you miss first time around.

  6. Other than THE HOBBIT, I don't get anything out of re-reading books and have always been jealous of readers who do. It would be a privilege to re-experience the joy of reading a beloved book or to glean something new on multiple reads.

    Fact is, I don't re-watch movies either (except for Rocky Horror, but that's a little different). I do have a tremendous memory for books and will frequently go back and look something up in a novel I read two decades ago. Maybe that's a kind of re-reading?

    All that aside, I am re-reading a book at present. It was the first psychologically driven novel I ever read. It changed how I read, motivated me to start writing and inspired my current WIP. I felt it deserved a re-read.

    Fascinating post, Roland.

    ~VR Barkowski

  7. I love some books so much that I simply must reread them at times in order to be content with my life. I try to read about three new books (or trilogies) per each time I reread an old favorite (book or series). I've reread LOTR/Hobbit/Silmarillion many times, and Martin's ASOIAF series about three times so far. My only regret is not getting to be immortal so that I can continue discovering new great books while wallowing in my old loves eternally.

  8. Well, I guess that makes me arrogant, narrow-minded, and dim, as I frequently reread books I've loved in the past. Sometimes it's better the devil you know than the devil you don't.

    I'd also like to meet the imbecile who said that. Give me a break ...

    I'm currently reading (again) The Lord of the Rings. I've also reread Harry Potter - lots and lots of times. Like an old lumpy jumper or a pair of scuffed slippers - they just feels 'right'.

    Good post, Roland. That got my blood pumping!

  9. Alex:
    Everyone has their own style of reading. But books have always been my friends that I delight in re-visiting.

    Fine reasoning: if we love the world why wouldn't we be drawn back to it? Like you, I also read new books as well.

    Time is certainly of limited supply these days. I understand all too well!

    Ignore others to do what makes sense to you -- makes sense to me. :-) I sometimes read snippets of favorite books to revisit fond memories and funny lines.

    Yes, there is so much you miss in the first read. And in a well-done series, you can see how skillfully plots threads were lain in advance of a surprise twist!

    I get the plot the first time. On further readings, I get forshadowing and depth of perception to a book.

    The second time you read it, you’ve already seen the overall pattern of the plot threads.

    You understand that this is a novel about self-delusion. You are aware of Pip’s flaws as a narrator.

    You can trust him to tell you what happens, but not when he tries to tell you what it all means. You understand that this is a book about getting things wrong — and that in describing so precisely how we get things wrong, Dickens gets it exactly right.

    Wouldn't it be great to have enough time to read all the great books out there and reread our favorites, too?

    I'm in the same boat with you about re-reading. Jack Thurston is the British author who believes we are arrogant, narrow-minded, and dim.

    I am currently re-reading the 14 book series of HARRY DRESDEN, the Chigaco Wizard private investigator. Like HARRY POTTER, those novels get deeper and more intricate as you go along.

    Happy to add some spice to your blood this morning! :-)