The Power of the Reread

How many times have we as book lovers said, “I know I shouldn’t reread this book when there are so many new books out there” or “I love this book, but I’ve already read it twice, I don’t want to waste my reading time”? 

We’ve pretty much all been there. As lovers of books, we are at a disadvantage. Those who consume music or movies as their favorite medium have it a lot easier than we do. It takes just over 11 hours to watch the Lord of The Rings Extended Edition, and 40–50 hours to read them. This means you could consume the films 4.5 times in the same amount of time it takes to read the books; now factor in how many times you’ve watched those movies, and the time disparity only increases.

I have watched LOTR probably a good 20 times, and have no qualms with rewatching. Rainy day? LOTR! Sick? LOTR! 20-hour international flight? LOTR! Never once have I seriously thought “Maybe I should stop watching these movies when there are so many other movies out there.” Movies are just so much easier for me to consume on a larger scale.

I have only read the Lord Of the Rings books all the way through twice because it’s such a greater time commitment, and as we all know time is a precious commodity. As much as I want to reread LOTR for the third time, I can’t quite get over the guilt I’ll feel when I pass my stacks of books I haven’t read even once. Then there’re the other countless beloved books that I want to reread; the classics that I’ve only ever pretended to read; the books recommended by friends that I say I’ll get to soon (but probably won’t)…it’s a lot.

So I instituted a rule. Every year, I would reread one series that I loved as a young reader. At first, I was worried I would run out of series to choose from. I should not have worried at all! In fact, every year, I have to narrow down my options because there are just so many! This year, after much thought, I went with the Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini. I loved it so much in middle school, and it felt like I just needed to read about some dragons.

A few weeks ago, I pulled a move straight out of the Middle School Nerd Handbook and stayed up all night reading. I made a pot of coffee, piled blankets and snacks around me, and didn’t sleep until I had read Eragon cover to cover. And while I was bleary-eyed and out of it all the next day, I felt so refreshed. I got to spend time in a world I missed, and enough time had passed that it felt like reading it for the first time. As I read, I got to fangirl and feel angsty and dramatic without feeling guilty. I got to remember why I loved fantasy so much, and not judge the use of tropes and cliches. 

I read because I love to find stories that I will cherish. So why do I throw books I loved on the “have-read” shelf and leave them there? There are so many books and so little time, that’s true, but I’ll never get to read them all anyway, so why shouldn’t I spend time with the ones that mean the most to me? Of the 83 books I’ve read in 2020, there are so many that I wish I could read again, and get sad thinking about how it’s over. But, oh wait! I can be there again! I can reread it immediately! Or I can wait long enough that I forget the details, and get to rediscover it the next time around.

I guess all I’m saying is, trust that you can reread, and be okay. Whether you read two books or 100 books a year, you can go back and reread. Reading isn’t a competition, there isn’t some law that dictates a minimum requirement for more books. Reading is for the reader, so read what you want, when you want, how often you want, and how many times you want. 

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