Books That Hit Different the Second Time Around

Mara Franzen

Staff Writer

Mara (They/Them) has accidentally on purpose made their entire life about books and stories. Mara graduated with a B.A in creative writing and theatre and is halfway through an MFA in Creative writing. In addition to writing for Book Riot, Mara also has written for The Independent Book Review, Wargamer, and The Other Half, to name a few. They also work as a fiction editor with The Minison Project. Nearly all of their published articles can be found here.

I am a chronic re-reader, but I wasn’t always. In fact it wasn’t until college that I started to get sick of reading that my love for rereads began.

I, like a lot of students, had started to hate reading because the only reading I had set time aside for was reading for school. Some of what I was reading was great, but a lot of it was things I would never pick for myself, and have no interest in ever reading again. The thing was, I didn’t want to lose my love of reading. I just needed to find a way to get myself to fall back in love with reading.

Enter the reread.

I decided that every year I would reread one series that I had loved as a middle/high schooler. It was a manageable goal since I was only trying to fit five YA books into my reading schedule. Even after the first year I knew I had made a great decision.

While I had outgrown some of them, most of the books reminded me why I loved reading. They also helped me remember why I wanted to be a writer. It was everything I was missing from my life, and the habit has stuck.

I’m still choosing a YA series to reread every year, but I’ve expanded beyond that and have started reading all sorts of things again. Sometimes as soon as I finish a book, I start it over right away.

Below is a list of books that I have reread over the last few years, and I think you should too! I will say this list has a lot of high fantasy/sci-fi and classics, as these are the types of books I tend to think have the most to say during a second reading.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker book cover

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Like many American students, I was assigned this book in high school. I remember liking it fine, but it was a book I read through fast so I could get it out of the way. Recently, I reread this book and was absolutely floored by how much I adored it. I think this book is done a disservice by being assigned to high schoolers. Its language is so rich, and the story so compelling that it can’t be rushed. I’m so glad I got the chance to fall in love this text properly this time.

cover of Eragon

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

This book was one of the first I read when I decided to try rereading. I reread the whole series and loved it so much more. There was a lot of subtlety I missed when I read it as a teen. Reading it as an adult meant I picked up on so many more tiny things I had forgotten or ignored. My reread also helped me see the characters in a new light as I am now older than Eragon was. That kid went through so much! I never really thought about it until my reread.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin cover

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

I think I might just have to reread this series at least every other year for the rest of my life, and that is hardly an exaggeration. N.K. Jemisin is a master class of a writer who makes even the most innocuous details ripple with importance. Every reread brings forth new understanding and details I never noticed before. Truly one of the greatest additions to the science fiction cannon.

Cover of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

An absolute classic. I keep finding new jokes I missed when I was younger, and I have a growing appreciation for everything this work did for satire and science fiction. It’s witty and holds up a mirror to how we still operate in our world today, despite its age. This is a book I will be forever in love with and even though I read it literally a month ago, I’m already looking forward to my next reread.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn Book Cover

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

I read this book once and immediately started it over. And with the sequel set to release soon, I think I might have to reread it a third time. It’s important to remember that when it comes to rereading a book, it doesn’t have to be years and years in between reads! You can reread right away. This is the most recent book on this list; I think that rereading shouldn’t only pertain to the classics.

Cover of Percy Jackson the Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

I still remember reading this book for the first time. And even though I have the first page memorized, I know I’m not alone in getting that feeling of excitement opening this book for a reread. Plus, with a brand new TV show on the horizon, it’s the prefect time to dive in and give this series a reread.

cover of The Night Circus byErin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This book is one of the most visually stunning books ever. Reading it for the first time is a transcendent experience, but rereading it is unlike anything else. Because this book has so much description, rereading helps you conceptualize what’s happening more. There’s just so much detail that you likely won’t be able to take it all in during your first read through.

cover of parable of the sower

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

This is a masterclass in speculative dystopian writing. It’s so enthralling and heart wrenching. Parable of the Sower is often taught in schools so it’s easy to speed over without taking the time to really absorb it. If you were assigned this book in school and felt neutral towards it, I’d highly recommend giving it another try. Plus, the sequel is also delightful, so after a reread you have the privilege of experiencing the sequel for the first time.

severance book cover

Severance by Ling Ma

This is a delightful book that packs a serious punch, especially as we are still living through a pandemic. One amazing thing about rereading this book is you get to uncover all the little hints Ling Ma left us about where the story was going to go. I especially recommend this book for a reread if you read it for the first time before, or towards the beginning of the pandemic. It’s truly illuminating.

Cover of Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughter House-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughter House-Five is one of the greatest books of all time, and one constantly assigned to students. I’d go so far as to say that if you were assigned this book in school and haven’t reread it since, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Reading this as an adult packs so much more of a punch than when you read it as a student. I highly recommend this book. No matter how often you’ve already read it!

their eyes were watching god by zora neale hurston cover

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Another victim of the “I had to read it for school” collection, Their Eyes Were Watching God is a fantastic work of feminist literature. Rereading this book was one of my favorite rereads ever, even though it’s also one of the saddest books of all time. If you’re looking for a book that is going to capture your imagination, and make you cry, look no further than Their Eyes Were Watching God.

The Way of the Kings book cover

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Listen, I understand that this is a giant work of fantasy. Yes, it’s a huge time commitment, but it’s also so full of detail that it almost demands a reread. Part of the downfall of a long book is that there are more plots to remember and details to keep track of, which also means some are likely going to slip through the cracks. I also recommend rereading this book in a different format the second time around. If you read the physical copy, try the audiobooks, and vice versa!

wuthering heights cover

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

This book has been taught to so many students because of its status as a classic. However, it’s a book with no real redeeming characters so it can be a slog to get through, especially if it’s one of six books you have to read that semester. Rereading it, and taking your time with it opens this book up so much. Wuthering Heights is considered a classic for a reason, you just have to give it the time it deserves. It’s a really great book. Promise!

Now, if you haven’t read any of these books before, it’s not too late. There always has to be a first read before there can be a second!