rereading books

Read and Repeat: Three Benefits of Rereading Books

A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.” ― Italo Calvino, The Uses of Literature

In the realm of bookworms there reside two primary categories of readers: those who enjoy rereading books and those who don’t. While of course some people fall somewhere in the middle, the point remains: a large number of readers love to reread the same books over and again, even when new stories rest on their shelves. The old books call them. And usually a book that warrants a second reading goes on to warrant a third, fourth, or fifth read as well.

For some, on the other hand, once they’ve read a story, there’s no coming back to it. They’ve already solved the mystery, found the solution, or vanquished the enemy, and so the story’s finished for them. It seems a waste to come back to the same books when a thousand new ones are vying for your attention. A person could spend a lifetime reading and still not finish even a quarter of the good books in existence. Why limit yourself to the same tales when so many other stories wait to be discovered?

But as the girl who rereads everything from fantasies to mysteries to classics, I’d argue that there’s more to discover in a good book than just the plot. So as a rereading advocate, I’d like to share the three reasons why I love to revisit old tales.

Here are 3 Benefits of Rereading Books:

1. Rereading Books Provides A Unique Comfort:

It’s akin to visiting an old friend, driving down a street you used to live on, or walking around a school you used to attend. In a good book, the fact that you already know the ending doesn’t diminish the enjoyment of the tale. It’s not just about following the story anymore; it’s about falling into a world you love. The familiar characters and settings take on a feel of returning home.

And that sense of returning brings with it a certain nostalgia. You get to relive the emotions you felt when first experiencing that story. A single book may carry the thrill of a child reading beneath a blanket with a flashlight, the joy of a teenager lounging outside, and the peace of an adult curled up with a cup of tea. Every time I reread a story, I come back to dreams the tale planted in me and to pieces of myself I can’t find anywhere else but in the pages of that book.

2. Rereading Books Allows Us to Slow Down:

In a great book, often times we miss details during our initial read. We’re too wrapped up in getting to the end; when we’re on the edge of our seat, we just want to know what happens next. Or in the case of non-fiction, we want to know the author’s total argument or the points that are most helpful to us. The big picture engages us, sometimes to the point that we forget to look closely at the pieces making up the puzzle.

Rereading books gives us the chance to slow down and notice details we didn’t recognize the first time. Like re-watching a movie and discovering jokes we didn’t catch or something happening in the background, rereading often allows us to find hidden treasures in the books we love. Once we know what’s happening center stage, we have the leisure to watch what’s going on around the edges.

3. Rereading Books Brings Us Deeper:

Along with noticing the bypassed details, rereading books helps us to uncover more meaning in the layers of the story. The characters come to life further, sub-textual messages become clearer, and the connections between events grow more evident. As Calvino claims, true classics never finish speaking. Rereading gives us the chance hear more of what the books have to say. As we return to a story, we enrich our experience of it because we bring more to the story each time we come, and we take more away.

Ideas worthy of pondering abound in books likes The Lord of the Rings, The Man Who Was Thursday, or Invisible Cities. They offer more food for thought than an all-you-can-eat buffet, but if we only read them once, we miss out on a thousand flavors we had the chance to sample and passed up. There’s only so much we can digest in a single read, and there’s so much we may never discover if we don’t return to the pages.

A good book grows each time you read it.

While I know rereading books isn’t for everyone, rereading is still a power experience. Some stories just beg to be visited again, and they offer more each time you return. As for myself, there are few things that bring me more pleasure than curling up with a book I’ve read a dozen times before.

How about you? Do you reread books or no? If yes, what are some of the books you come back to over and over again?