On re-reading

Re-reading. It is a darn interesting topic.
At least for readers, it is.
While getting caught up on podcasts (which can be its own special kind of time warp when you’re as far behind as I am), I recently listened to the Nancy Pearl Book Review podcast from December 18, 2009.
She and the snarky host were talking about books we re-read: what are they, and why do we choose them? Why do we “waste time” by re-reading, when there are so many other books to read?
And, as Nancy said, do we ever really re-read a book, since each time we read a particular book, we are at a different stage of our life? The book may be the same, but the reader is different.
The most thought-provoking part was the conversation with Suzanne Morrison, who writes about books for The Huffington Post. She wrote an article titled “Forget the Facebook Quizzes: This’ll Tell You Who You Are,” which made me begin to think twice about revealing my own re-reading preferences. Yikes. Now it feels like I’m about to slink around the blog in a bikini, which, I can assure you, nobody wants.
The other interesting topic was: Why do some books stand up after re-reading, while others are diminished? I confess that this question occurs to me often, often!, when I am re-reading a book in preparation for a book discussion. Maybe it’s also the need to develop questions that will keep a conversation going, but often I think, “This was better the first time around…” and I get that sinking feeling…
But, with other books, I am so, so happy that they keep working their particular magic. And some of them become refuges.
So, here are my top re-reading choices:
Topping the list (meaning: I’ve read these puppies at least 4 times) The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O’Brien All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
The runners-up (meaning: I’ve read these guys at least 3 times) Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara A Night to Remember by Walter Lord The Spy Wore Red by Aline, Countess of Romanones
And this list contains a few others, some of which are intentional/just-for-fun re-reads, and some of which were re-reads-for-a-book-discussion.
Other than, “I love that book!” I’m not too sure why I re-read, and I’ve decided that I’m not going to gaze at my navel in an attempt to figure it out. I’m sticking with plain old “I love that book!” It works.
So–I’m wondering:
What are your favorite books to re-read? Do you have tried and true favorites that you repeat time and time again?

2 thoughts on “On re-reading

  1. I am not a re-reader, though there are a couple of books that I think I'd enjoy re-reading. I've written about this as well, and I guess I feel that I always have too many books sitting on my nightstand that are begging to be my next great read that I can't justify the time reading something I've already read! Always an interesting discussion though… one I don't mind re-reading. 😉

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