Our Reading Lives

Does Rereading Count As Reading?

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Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

One such comfort reread…

When I’m down or just plain tired, I always turn to reading. I make some hot chocolate, sink myself into a mountain of pillows, and reread some of my favorite books. And then, when I’m done, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I read a book! Huzzah! But then I think… hang on, does rereading count as reading?

Whenever I head over to my Goodreads to once again mark a book as read for the second, third, or tenth time, I feel a twinge of guilt. Goodreads recently added a re-read option when marking a book as ‘read’, but even now, I still feel like I’m somehow cheating… lying to myself and that yearly reading challenge bar.

After all, rereading an old comfort read isn’t challenging. After the bajillionth time, it’s not exactly intellectually enriching either. All I did was kill some time and make myself a little bit happier. So, does rereading really count as reading? Or is it like shoving some dirty clothes into a corner and considering your laundry done? (No comment on whether I’ve done that exact thing recently.)

In the end, I guess, it all boils down to what you think the goal of reading is. If it’s too put words into your brain and enjoy yourself, then yeah, I’ve read a ton of books this year. If it’s to improve yourself, challenge yourself intellectually, and well, put new words into your brain, then maybe I’ve only read a paltry handful of books so far. Yikes.

Clarissa by Samuel RichardsonAside from my ends-justify-the-means approach to meeting reading goals, the main thing that keeps me from deciding that rereading doesn’t count as reading is that I find Samuel Richardson insufferable, and I refuse to commit myself to his ‘books should provide moral improvement’ deal. No thank you, Richardson. I don’t care how stylin’ your 18th century powdered wig is. Clarissa was a huge downer. I am so not aligning myself with you.

For now, despite the twinges of guilt, I’m happy to count rereading as reading. What are your thoughts? Do you consider rereading as true reading, or taking the easy way out? Or does it not matter either way? (It may not.) What do you think?