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Revisiting Books


Virginia
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Great idea for a topic!

 

This may seem odd but with books I wait longer than with movies. Although I think that's related because someone else wants to see the movie (again or their first time) and then I decide to watch with them. On my own I probably take a bit longer.

 

I usually leave at least a couple of years with books. I have a good memory and I find it more fun to wait to the point where I remember the main plot but not all the details. Waiting just a few days or weeks, I'd still remember a lot of things while reading it and that would make it less fun. On occasion I have re-read a book maybe one year after I read it the first time, but generally I wait longer.

 

When I was a child and young teenager though, I didn't have much money to buy books, I did borrow lots from the library but generally re-read my very favourites that I owned a lot more often. I remember most summers I re-read the BabySitter's Club books I had, I took them with me on holiday, after I had finished the library books I'd taken with me (you were only allowed to borrow so many books, back then at least).

 

There are plenty of books I'd like to re-read, in the near future or in a while when I've forgotten more about them, however there are also lots of unread books I want to read.

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I wait MUCH longer with a novel than with a movie. A movie only takes about 2 hours to watch. A novel, much longer. I think that is why. There is one novel that I want to read again soon. Last time I read it was in 2001

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It really is a matter of when a book takes my fancy, so I may not plan to revisit a book or series but suddenly find myself reaching for a certain book (or kindling it!). It can be weeks, months or years between reads. Recently I have been feeling a pull toward a re read of The Time Traveller's Wife and have also thought of revisiting Harry at Hogwarts.  :smile:

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I hardly re-read things as there's always something new to discover. I think I read Lord of the Rings about 3 times in 18 months when I first read it though :P

 

I'm making an effort to round of the year by revisiting some old favourites and it has been probably about 5 - 8 years for most of them. It's the same with films it's many years usually before I watch them again but there are exceptions if they are particulary good or funny.

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I rarely re-read much, the main exception being Jane Austen and Ali Smith.  I have, on occasion, finished the last page of a book and immediately turned back to the first page and started reading all over again, but this was mainly when I was younger.  The trouble is that I love the mystery of what is going to happen in a book as I read it - once I've read it, the mystery is gone, and I'm more often than not, not interested in reading it again.

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I'm the complete opposite.  I love re reading my favorite books.  I love re discovering them, re living the enchantment I had with them, seeing how they have changed in my mind, finding new things in them.  I rarely watch movies, I have a few that I watch as background noise because I know them so well, but on the whole, I don't watch many.  I can go a book or two and return to a book, because I keep thinking about it, or I can go years with some books.  I probably guilty pleasure read Valley of the Dolls every other year, but my favorite book, Gone With the Wind, I can go abround 2-3 years.  Likewise, my third favorite book, The Good Earth, I've read only twice and that was about 7 years apart.  :shrug: If I didn't re read my favorites, I don't know, I'd miss some of my best friends :lol:

 

edit: I don't really have a TBR pile, as I only buy the book I am going to read, when I read it.  So my TBR pile is virtual, so to speak.

Edited by Anna Begins
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I usually wait at least a year, although when I first read The Stand by Stephen King (the full, unabridged version at over 1000 pages long) I read it three or four times in a year, because I just kept finding new things in it. Over the years, I've read it at least a dozen times, but I haven't read it in at least 5 years, so I'm really due a revisit! :)

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I don't do a lot of re-reading these days, as there is always some new to read. In my teenage years, when access to books was a bit more limited due to funds, I re-read pretty much everything I owned about 10 or 20 times. Now my problem is the opposite - plenty of access to books, but no room to keep them - thank God for Kindles! So LOTR got re-read every year, and the same for my favourite Stephen King and Julian May. 

 

I'm currently re-reading all the Harry Potter books, which I haven't re-read at all. I'm finding them very enjoyable, particularly as I'm not having to read them fast so the ending isn't spoilt! 

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Rereads tend to wait for some years, occasionally some decades.  They account for no more than 4 or 5 books a year max (out of 50-60).  The one exception to this has been Jane Austen: I reread Sense and Sensibility within the space of a few days, and have now read it at least half a dozen times, whilst most of the other Austens have been read 3 or more times (the exception being Mansfield Park, read just the once so far, a couple of years ago - it waited a long time to be read!). The next shortest timespan has been Virginia Woolf: Mrs Dalloway was reread within a year; others marginally more.

Edited by willoyd
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My re-reads tend to wait for years from the first time I read them. Most of the books that I re-read are books that I read over 15 years ago. For some reason, I haven't re-read many books that I read in the last 5 or so years, even when I have really enjoyed them. My most re-read books are The Stand and IT (both by Stephen King), and Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. Can't think of any others that I have read more than twice (though The Pillars of the Earth is on my re-read list, which will be the third time I have read it).

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  • 2 months later...

I rarely re-read much, the main exception being Jane Austen and Ali Smith.  I have, on occasion, finished the last page of a book and immediately turned back to the first page and started reading all over again, but this was mainly when I was younger.  The trouble is that I love the mystery of what is going to happen in a book as I read it - once I've read it, the mystery is gone, and I'm more often than not, not interested in reading it again.

 

I've been thinking about re-reading recently.  Last year, at the talk I went to about her book, Ali Smith discussed re-reading, and how she wondered why you would only read a book once.  She was convinced that books should have more to reveal than it takes in a single reading, and that revisiting books should allow you to find more references and intricacies that you may have missed out on the first read.  I have to say, I've only read the majority of her books once, but I have been thinking that I need to revisit them all again, especially the novels, as I think, for me at least, there is more to be gained from them. :)

 

There is a feature in the Guardian about rereading as well (it's a few of years old, I know, but it's still interesting), with authors explaining the books they most often reread (or not, in some cases).  I'm still of the opinion that most of the time, I will still only read a book once, but I think books I've loved that have depth to them, I need to consider revisiting again to see what I missed the first time around.

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That's a wonderful article, Claire.  Thanks for posting the link.

I know I posted earlier that I don't reread much on account of my stacks around here, but I used to reread when I was younger.  Sometimes quite a lot. 

Some of the authors in Claire's link had many of the thoughts I had back then.  It isn't that I don't still agree with rereading, I just feel guilty when I see the stacks that I haven't read yet! /sigh/

 

I think the best quote (maybe) in the article was from Tessa Hadley. 

The novel form is made for rereading. Novels are by their nature too long, too baggy, too full of things – you can't hold them completely in your mind. This isn't a flaw – it's part of the novel's richness: its length, multiplicity of aspects, and shapelessness resemble the length and shapelessness of life itself. By the time you reach the end of the novel you will have forgotten the beginning and much of what happens in between: not the main outlines but the fine work, the detail and the music of the sentences – the particular words, through which the novel has its life. You think you know a novel so well that there must be nothing left in it to discover but the last time I reread Emma I found a little shepherd boy, brought into the parlour to sing for Harriet when she's staying with the Martin family. I'm sure he was never in the book before.

 

 

That was my experience back when I did reread a lot. 

 

Plus, one of the other authors spoke of rereading specific books at different ages producing different feelings in the reader.  So very true!

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I usually take a year or two, sometimes longer, to come back to a book that I've loved - or sometimes a book that I thought was pretty good but cannot remember anything about.

 

I might read favourite childhood books once a year or so, because they're generally pretty short reads.

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Interesting article!

 

I have a lot of books that feel 'like family'! But I've never read a book 100 times.. that would mean more than once a year, and that's too much for me. I like to generally wait a year or preferably at least a few years, so that I forget some of the details of the book. The books I've re-read the most are probably the first few books in the BabySitters Club series by Ann M. Martin (probably books 3 and 4, since those were the first ones I had).

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There are only four novels I can think of right now (there my be a couple more) that I have read more than once: To Kill A Mockingbird, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and Dandelion Wine.  I reread Jane Eyre about 18 years after the first read!   I did reread some of my children's chapter books as a child, though.  There are many books that I would like to read again someday, but I have so many that I haven't read and want to read that it seems like a time restraint issue.

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