Do you ever finish a great book and swear that you’re going to reread it? I do this all the time. I have lists and piles of never-been-touched books waiting to be cracked open and read, books I can hardly wait to read. But I also have lots of great novels that I am itching to reread. One pass is not good enough for a fabulous book. There is so much more that can be harvested. Yet, other than rereading To Kill a Mockingbird countless times, I haven’t gone back to all the wonderful novels that I want to reread. I already know that I love the plots and characters. And I know that I’ll learn more, as a writer, by rereading. Every time I revisit To Kill a Mockingbird, I close the novel with deeper insights into character and character development, motivation, voice, subplots . . . So why haven’t I reached for The Help, The Harry Potter books, Speak, The Book Thief, (and more) a second time? Because I’m always tempted by the fresh, new reads. Also, there are only twenty-four hours in a day, which is really inconvenient. Sigh.
Last weekend an article on this very topic snagged my attention. According to “Why Books and Movies Are Better the Second Time,” by Natalie Wolchover, research reveals that people like to reread books to find deeper layers of significance in the material while also reflecting on their own growth through the already familiar book. Apparently rereading a book or revisiting a movie is often a search for new meaning in a therapeutic sort of way because the readers self-reflect. Revisiting enables them to achieve an understanding of their past and present situations. Okay, but I would add that revisiting great novels also enables writers to learn more about an author’s style, technique, and expertise.
By the way, here’s a link to that article if you’d like to read more: http://bodyodd.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/17/10437789-why-books-and-movies-are-better-the-second-time
Do you reread your favorite novels? If so, how does the reading experience differ the second and even third time?
I’m off to revisit my bookshelves. If I can somehow make it past that pile of shiny new books.