On these cold days and dark nights I’m tempted to curl up with some of my favourite novels, candles and blankets and indulge my desire to reread, yet weirdly, I’m filled with guilt at the mere thought. That’s not right, is it? Over the past few months I’ve done quite a bit of rereading, because a new book in a series has been released or because I have fond memories of reading it the first time round and I want to experience that joy again. Surely that’s acceptable, isn’t it? In the back of my mind I’m aware that there are so many books in the world that I want to read but I will never get the chance to, you know, the age old ‘too many books, too little time’. My to-be-read lists and shelves get bigger with every second I browse Goodreads/Instagram/Waterstones, every time I read a book by a new-to-me author and decide I need their backlist and with every juicy new release by well-loved and debut authors alike. But this should not prevent me from enjoying a good old reread. It can be rare to find an author/series/stand alone book that resonates so deep you want to read it again and again, so why stop myself? Easy. I shouldn’t and I won’t. Here are 6 reasons you should embrace the reread.
Rereading a book/series you have previously enjoyed is comforting. You already know how it’s going to end so you can sit back and savour the journey. I often discover something new about the characters/plot when I reread as I’m not speeding my way through to the end to make sure my favourite character(s) survives. To my shame (or not?) I am one of those people who needs to know the ending and sometimes even reads the last page/flicks through the last few chapters to relax before even beginning. More often than not, I’ve forgotten half of the plots, several major twists and find new joy in reliving them. And I always, always pick up on new subtle hints to later plots/characters when I reread early books in a series. Knowing what is revealed later in the timeline often sheds new light on early motives and personalities which makes every reread unique and worthwhile. Hindsight people, hindsight.
One of the downsides to being an avid fantasy reader is unfinished series. Excluding the big names of GRR Martin, Patrick Rothfuss and Scott Lynch, I’m currently invested in several as yet unfinished series by Karen Chance, Bradley Beaulieu, Jen Williams and John Gywnne (to name a few) – not for any other reason than the series are ongoing and the authors need time to actually write their sequels. All it means is that every time there is a new release I need to reread the previous works to remember what has happened thus far and consequently fall in love with their characters and worlds all over again… what a drag, NOT.
3. A New Perspective
I’m sure you all have certain books you remember reading as a child/young adult that left a lasting impact on you, for better or worse. For me, Goodnight Mister Tom, The Kite Runner, Frankenstein and Wuthering Heights stick out in my mind from compulsory school reading lists. One I hated, two made me cry and the other I claimed to be my favourite book for many years. Over a decade later I have a completely different perspective on the themes these books explore and can appreciate the stories a lot more with the knowledge and life experience (limited as it still is by age) I have now. I’m not saying a reread should wait for years so that you can appreciate it in new light, but even a year or so makes a huge difference, especially in regard to ‘the classics’. As much as I still enjoy Wuthering Heights, I certainly no longer think of it as a love story…
I don’t know about you, but I associate certain books with a particular event that may have happened when I first read them. During every reread, I remember that event and marvel at how life has changed. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes not so much, but each reading experience is different and just as impactful. I know that every time I reread Nicholas Eames’ Kings of the Wyld I will remember sitting outside a cafe in sunny Rouen reading it for the first time and similarly with Bradley Beaulieu’s Blood Upon the Sand, I will remember shivering in Bruges one winter enjoying the views as I wait to head home after a wonderful winter break.
If you’re a reader, you love books. You may not keep every single book you read but I bet you have a few (or a lot – I know I do) you keep on shelves, desks, piles on the floor… even after you’ve read them. Why? You must have enjoyed them or you would have given them away/donated them etc… so really, you always knew you’d reread them, you’re just doing what you always knew you would. And should! Vive les livres.
6. Just Because.
Sometimes I just want to. Earlier this year I read Kelley Armstrong’s Cainsville series and I absolutely adored it. A couple of months later Armstrong released a book of short stories set in the same world and it reminded me how much I enjoyed the original series. Now, a few months on again, I am ITCHING to reread the whole series but I keep stopping myself. For some reason I feel like I shouldn’t read a series more than once a year. Yet looking at my reading list for 2018, I’ve currently read exactly 100 books since I read the last full length Cainsville novel, so why shouldn’t I? Maybe I’ll wait until January to reread, maybe I’ll make it to next week before I dive back into them, but I will definitely not let myself feel guilty for rereading stories I love – after all, I don’t feel guilty listening to a song more than once. Although I’m also desperate to reread Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell series, Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series.. where to start?!
Let the rereading begin!