On Rereading

So, the Harry Potter thing has got me thinking….

You know, I very rarely reread anything.

Or rewatch, even. I can probably count the series or books I’ve revisited in any way on one hand, and even then those have a tendency to be as a refresher after years or as part of some group discussion. Rereading just for pleasure, on my own, has never been a thing I really do, and I don’t really know why. Most of my friends have certain series they rewatch or reread every year.

I do understand the urge to do that, too. Like them, I do get attached to stories like they’re old friends. Rereading something beloved, on the few times that I do it, always feels like coming home after a long time and seeing it with fresh eyes.

And I am a person who likes to really get into a piece and learn every detail about it; I really probably should reread things more, because usually that’s where that ability comes from. I have a tendency to go to essays and discussions for that instead, though. At the most I’ll go back to the couple of paragraphs that have pertinent information on what I’m thinking about.

Which is silly. Context is incredibly important in a story; pretty much every literature class ever will tell you to read a piece that you want to discuss through at least twice before you even open your mouth on it, and discussion and essays are really no substitute. It’s always going to be the little details that you pick up on your own that really drive your interpretation and make it unique. The people teaching those classes are right: rereading is necessary.

It’s always been so hard for me to do, though. I never have that same driving need to get through the novel that I do the first time around, and usually I’ll get distracted and wander away. This is probably why I fare better with series I’ve forgotten most of or situations where I’m letting other people down if I don’t get through it, but strangely it makes no sense in the context of how I generally function. Spoilers have never bothered me, for one. I’ll happily read something where I already know most of the plot and not have the same problem.

I will say this, though. The ride of actually reading or watching something is always drastically different than hearing a summary of the plot. Maybe it’s the lack of newness in that ride that I’m reacting to when I get bored with a reread and drift off. But considering how unwilling I am to let go of things I love, how anxious new things often make me, you’d think that would be comforting rather than boring. That rereading would give me some sort of bedrock to stand on and ease my mind.

Maybe that’s just the problem, though. As I said above, when you reread something, it changes slightly. You focus on different things, like parts that you hated better, don’t react as much to parts that you loved. The piece adapts to your current mindset, whatever that is and whatever that does to the work. It’s hard to go back to the books that got you through hard times, that kept you happy and sane, or even that just entertained you greatly, knowing that you might love them less. That may be the reason I’m so hesitant to reread things.

Of course, it might also be that I have a stack of probably a hundred books that I have yet to read sitting on my shelves. I have to admit, that might also be a factor.

I’m interested in other people’s opinions on this. Do you reread your favorite series often? Or do you have a specific series that you make sure to get back to regularly? Or are you like me, and avoid rereading until you’re forced into it? And why do you think that is, for any of the above? I’ve put out some thoughts here, but I can’t say I’m absolutely sure these are the reasons I don’t reread that often. It would be good to see another take on it.


5 thoughts on “On Rereading

  1. I actually feel the same way – I rarely reread or re-watch anything. The only book I’ve ever reread is To Kill a Mockingbird, and I definitely want to revisit it because my perspective changes every time I read it. Other than that, the main reason why I don’t reread/re-watch is because I’ll never be as excited as I was the first time around since I already know the plot. I don’t want my lesser excitement the second time around to ruin my love for the book/movie, if that makes any sense… Anyway, great post! xx

    Liked by 1 person

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