On rereading (or not)

Something Jenny said on Sunday made me think about how my reading habits over the past few years have changed since I started blogging. Before, I used to reread a lot more. Maybe half of my reading totals came from rereads, and all of them from books in my collection.

Why? Well:
a) I had a lot less unread books sitting around in my room. My book collection was seriously small compared to what it is now, and so was my TBR pile. I also didn’t have access to a good library, so if I wanted to read something, it had to come from my own book collection, and so I ended up reading a lot of the same books over and over again.
b) I didn’t have a job, so I bought less books which meant fewer new things to read. And most importantly
c) rereading the same books over and over again brought me a kind of comfort that new-to-me books didn’t give. This is still true! Rereading my favorites makes me feel safe and cozy, which is why I keep going back to them.

You can only read the same few books so many times, though. Around 2008 I made a conscious decision to NOT reread so many of the same books and to go out and find new ones to read.

This is around the same time I finally got near a library and acquired a job. Huzzah! Access to free books and having the option to buy a lot more books lead to my TBR exploding– and I haven’t looked back since.

That said, I do still reread books! But they tend to be from a select group of authors, my Top 10 favorites or whatever. I reread all my Diana Wynne Jones books each year, for example, because she’s my Favorite Author Ever and so I specifically make time to read her books again.

However, I still keep a lot of books assuming I’ll reread them eventually. But when’s “eventually”?

I keep getting so many new books and I have such a large amount of books unread that I often feel guilty for rereading books when I could be spending that time reading new-to-me ones. Last year I reread 11 books, and I think most of them were graphic novels. I’ve fallen onto the other side of the line, now: instead of rereading “too much” I now reread “too little,” and I’m not sure how to fix that.

I mean, yeah, I could just go ahead and reread a book. Easy fix! But then what about all those new-to-me books? When are THEY gonna get read?

Do you reread books? How do you balance new reads with rereads?

Note: this post was edited/parts were rewritten for clarification on July 23, 2014.

21 thoughts on “On rereading (or not)”

  1. I’m a passionate rereader but I’m afraid I don’t apply any method to it. Generally, it’s just determined by my mood: sometimes I’m desperate to read something new, other times I want the comfort of an old favourite, perhaps a Heyer or a Wodehouse. I read for pleasure and the constant consumption of only new titles has never made me happy; there’s too much of the unknown, you never know if a book is going to be your new favourite or a depressing dud. Give me an old friend to reread and I know I’m assured of a great experience.

    1. The comfort factor is exactly why I almost always reread some old favorite when I’m sick– it makes me feel better!

    1. I actually (somewhat unfortunately) have a pretty good memory for book plots. I may not remember authors, titles, or characters, but I can almost always remember a story! Makes it really difficult to reread mysteries– that’s why I have to wait years and years to reread Agatha Christie novels (although sometimes I don’t mind knowing the end, like with Murder on the Orient Express).

  2. I have so many books I would love to reread, but then someone recommends a book I just have to read and the rereads get pushed further down my stack of books. It has been a long time since I have reread a book, but surprisingly I have not missed them too much. I am having too much fun reading new to me books.

  3. I actually re-read quite a bit. Nothing hits the spot better than returning to a familiar land or character, something safe and comfortable that I know I can get lost in easily! I don’t have a method to my madness. I simply read what I want, when I want. If I feel it is time to pick up one of those favorites, then I do . . . no questions asked!

  4. I do it really well? How flattering! Do I? I feel like I do way too much rereading, only sometimes I am not in a place to read new things and I can only face reading something old and soothing. :p

    1. Compared to me, you do! Plus you always find something new and interesting in your rereads; I tend to just think/feel the same things over and over again unless I’m specifically LOOKING for something new. 😀

  5. I’m a re-reader but last year I didn’t do it as often as I would have liked to. You’re right about the various reasons we have for not doing it. This year I’m determined to re-read more without worrying so much about new reads.

    1. I keep thinking that NEXT year, after I’ve read so many of these TBR books, I’ll be able to let myself reread books more…but by that time I know I’ll have a whole new set of TBR books and it’ll be the same thing all over again. Oh well! I’ll either have to embrace the fact that I won’t reread much or try to convince myself a bit more that it’s okay if I do reread!

  6. I wish I could reread more! I haven’t reread a book in ages, mainly because I have so many unread books I feel like I can’t. This tends to put me in a pretty bad mood. Rereading isn’t as exciting as new books, but it is more comforting.

  7. This is something I’ve been struggling with for a while now. I would love to reread more books, but I’m finding that as my TBR list gets longer I feel more pressure to read those than some of my favorite books. And the question arises in whether or not I should even keep my favorite books because I feel like I don’t have time to reread them. Its a mess.

    1. I actually flirted with getting rid of some of the books I WANT to reread but won’t get to within a few years or so, especially because I could probably get them from a library (or buy them again) whenever I wanted read them again. But I don’t actually like the act of book purging, no matter how often I keep saying I need to do it, and I especially don’t like getting rid of books I enjoyed reading. 🙁 So then I just sort of shuffle things around to fit them better in my room and pretend they aren’t crowding me, lol.

  8. I am like you – I USED to reread a ton and now rarely do, for the same reasons. More unread books in my house, a job so buying more and more, plus blogging puts this pressure because my wish list has expanded like crazy and I want to read those at some point. Too many books and too little time, but I do want to reread more this year!

    1. It’s so weird, the things we book lovers (and bloggers) worry about! I don’t think other people worry about this stuff, lol. 😀

  9. I don’t really reread, I’m not sure why except I’ve never felt the need to.
    The only exception to that rule are books like Jane Eyre and Emma that I read at school – because they were read for analysis not enjoyment – and I reread both years later with a different purpose.

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