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When I was a kid, I reread my favorite books like it was going out of style. During summer vacation or when I was out of commission with a midwinter cold, I would check out Ella Enchanted, The Westing Game (audiobook versions–the best), or a worn old hardcover of Nancy Drew from my local library and read (or listen) like I had no idea what was coming next. It was the best. Other favorites I returned to on a semi-regular basis included Harriet the Spy, Dave at Night, The Island Keeper, The Thief Lord, and later, when I was a teenager homesick for Massachusetts, Kotuku, an odd bit of magical realism by Deborah Savage.
Nowadays my reading is not confined to the selection of a small town library. Back then I didn’t even know what a TBR (to be read) list was. Now, there are 275 books on my Goodreads to-read list, 1,194 books on my Amazon wish list, and not much overlap between the two. And of course, that doesn’t include the handful of review copies I receive most months or the as-yet unread books gracing my bookshelves at home. Oh yeah, and for the sake of completeness, my Overdrive audiobook to-listen list. At this point, my TBR list is growing at a significantly faster rate than I am reading.
This rapid expansion in bookish possibilities has been exciting and invigorating, but it has also led me to inadvertently give up rereading old favorites almost completely. This realization has struck and propelled me to action at intervals over the last few years. Two summers ago I decided to reread Jane Eyre and made it to page 274 (the bookmark is still there) before I was distracted, like a raccoon in the face of an alluringly shiny object, by the beautiful new books crowding out the backlists in publisher catalogues. Despite this abject failure, I upped the ante and vowed to reread all seven Harry Potter books last year, but, predictably, only made it through The Goblet of Fire.
[bctt tweet=”On Rereading #Books | To #Reread or Not to Reread: That Is the Question | @parchmentgril37″ via=”no”]
It’s not that I don’t love Jane and Harry beyond all reason (I do) or that too short a time period elapsed since my last reread for it to seem fresh and new again. (My memory for details and minor plot points usually expires within five years of even the most memorable first time reading experience.) I just have one of those dopamine-driven personalities whose willpower to stay the course inevitably crumbles in the face of the new and unexplored. And there is so much uncharted paper territory to be explored!
Does all of this mean I’m going to pull my distractible mind together and finally commit to rereading those all-time favorites? I’d like to say yes, but realistically, that probably isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Still, I would like to be able to say at the end of this year that I reread at least one of my old favorites. Ultimately, I think I’d be satisfied if I could consistently reread one or two books a year. If I can accomplish that, I’ll finish my current TBR (to be REread) list just in time to add to it some of the great books I’m reading for the first time this year.
My [Probably Incomplete] TBR (To Be Reread) List
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
- Jane Eyre (all of it this time!) by Charlotte Brontë
- Harry Potter Books 5-7 by J.K. Rowling
- Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber
- The Mitford Series by Jan Karon
- Still by Lauren Winner
- A Praying Life by Paul Miller
- Confessions by St. Augustine
- The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
- Faith and Other Flat Tires by Andrea Palpant Dilley
- The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (for the millionth time)
Much has been written on the topic of rereading books. Check out the following articles:
- Why Re-read? – Book Riot
- The Pleasures of Rereading – The Guardian
- The Pleasures and Perils of Rereading – The Millions
Also, on the problematic TBR list:
- On Not Keeping (or Wanting) a TBR List – River City Reading
Do you reread books? If so, how often? What are some of the books you want to reread?