Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 1
Would you ever read a book twice? The debate over the benefits and disadvantages of re-reading books and re-watching films has certainly been a heated one in my life, and, having recently read an article on why we shouldn’t re-read books, I thought I’d weigh on in.
Of course we should!
I guess I should probably back that bald statement up…
Ok, my top five reasons for re-reading:
- It’s enjoyable! Obviously this doesn’t go for every book; some, like ‘Twilight’ (yes, I’ve read it, yes I kind of enjoyed it at the time) or even ‘The Hunger Games’, which I love, are great to read the first time, because you get caught up in the plot – the second time, however, you realise the writing itself isn’t brilliant, and you fall into dismal despair and disappointment. Nevertheless, with really great books it won’t spoil it; Agatha Christie‘s murder mysteries are super scary and amazing however many times you read them, as, I think, are the ‘Harry Potter’ books.
- Appreciating the writing itself – the flipside of the argument above; I often get so focused on the plot, I skip over the descriptive passages. By re-reading after I know what’s going to happen, all the urgency to finish is gone, and I can truly appreciate some of the beautiful, lyrical sections my eyes accidentally blurred the first time round.
- Discovering new things – a continuation of the argument above, but applicable to the plot, as well as the writing. Small occurrences take on new significance after you know what’s going to happen, and bits you didn’t fully realise the importance of will now stick out to you. It’s like reading a whole new book!
- Learning to love a book – I feel like an awful English Lit. student when I tell you I did not like ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ (Harper Lee) at all the first time I read it; maybe because I was only ten and too young. Or maybe just not particularly empathetic. Anyway, the moral of the story is, I read it again, loved it, as almost everyone does (even my brother, who hardly ever reads to my dismay). And yeah, there are books I really dislike at the moment (namely ‘Beloved’ by Toni Morrison and ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte)– don’t even get me started) which I dread re-reading, but growing wiser and having new experiences can shed a completely new light on a character or an event. I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand ‘Room’ (Emma Donoghue) until I have children, or at least take care of them. So sue me; at the moment I’m a teenager and selfish and therefore have little sympathy for characters I can’t in any way identify with. Maybe one day I’ll learn…
- It’s comforting – Ok, probably most of you aren’t massive wimps like me. But I am very easily scared. As in Dr. Who scared me so much when I was ten, I still won’t watch it. Those plastic people….Urgh *shudders* So when I’m curled in my bed at night afraid my life is threatened by the mysterious monsters which I’m sure are lurking in my wardrobe, I found it extremely comforting to read a book I’ve already read before – I don’t have to worry about the plot, just allow myself to be transported to another world, another time where beasts don’t exist and there are lengthy descriptions of tables groaning with cakes and trifles, and cheesy, predictable, yet somehow cute, romances, and spectacular theatre shows… Ahh, bliss 🙂
And those are my ultimate reasons for re-reading! (Same goes for re-watching films, obviously, but this is a book blog guys, get with the picture 😉 ) Clearly it’s important to read new books most of the time, otherwise you’ll never learn anything. But re-reading isn’t and never will be a waste of time.