Friday, October 18, 2013

To Reread or not to Read...

... That is the question.

So I just finished rereading one of my favorite books, and I thought I would share my opinion on that often debated idea of rereads. Rereading books seems to be a pretty hot button issue in the book reviewing community. Some people love it, other people hate it. In my opinion it's a good idea for a person to reread their favorite book from time to time, and here's why.

The first time you read a book you generally read it much quicker. You are enthralled by the plot and you tend to focus more on the superficial elements of the story. When you reread a book you tend to pick up on more of the subtleties of the story. Things like foreshadowing and symbolism that you never noticed the first time take the story to a deeper level. This is particularly true if a story is very action-packed. If you're like me when the action picks up in a story then you have a tendency to start reading faster. Your heart may be racing, the adrenaline starts kicking in, and you just want to get to the next page to find out what happens. When I do this I often miss portions of the story in my eagerness to turn the page. So when I reread I am able to understand the story much better. My best example of this was in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (spoilers to follow). The first time I read it, I had no idea what was happening in the "vision" Harry had in the forest after Voldemort killed him. Was he dead or not? It was all very confusing. But after taking the time to reread the story and really digest it, the scene made so much more sense. I was also able to pick up on something that I never even noticed the first, like how Snape's patronus lead Harry to the sword of Gryffindor. I got even more out of the book when I reread it because I was able to take the time I needed and read it at a more relaxed pace.

Now I understand the argument from people that there are too many books in the world to reread ones you have already experienced. That is a very true statement, there are many books in the world and many people in the book reviewing community have shelves full of books to be read. I will admit that I am guilty of this. I get it, you should try and experience new things all the time, but there is no reason not to go back and enjoy an old favorite. If you are suffering from what is known in the biz as a "reading slump" then it's probably because you're not really enjoying the current book your reading, and more than likely the last few books you read. This is understandable, you're not going to enjoy every book that you read. But when this affliction befalls you then why not try rereading a book that you loved? More than likely you will also fall back in love with reading and get inspired to start reading something new.

The argument I don't understand is when people say that the book is ruined for them if they reread it, and it takes all of the magic away. Now, I'm not really the kind of person who gets mad about spoilers. I'm actually more like the kind of person who prefers spoilers and will read ahead to make sure things are going to end in a way that I want them too (don't judge me!). To me it's like solving a maze. I know where I'm going to end up, but what I don't know is how I am going to end up there. It's all about the journey isn't it?

Admittedly, the real reason that I reread this book is because I felt like I couldn't truly say that this was my favorite book until I experienced it again. Our opinions often change over time. Have you have watched a movie or television show and really enjoyed it and then watched it again and thought, "What was I thinking? This is terrible!" I know you have, everyone's done that! Or the opposite can happen. When I first saw Mean Girls I hated it. But then I watched it over and over again, and now I absolutely love it! I don't think you can really call something a favorite until you've experienced it multiple times.

 The book that I just reread was The Historian. It is a supernatural thriller and therefore very action-packed. I read it five years ago so, I have to admit, I did not remember much of the intricacies of the plot. I knew it was about Dracula and the search for his tomb by a teenage girl and her father, but that was about it. There were still plenty of surprises throughout the story and I even figured out a connection that I never put together the first time (it happened during the big climax so I was otherwise engaged). I remembered many of the main characters but not a lot of the secondary characters and I was able to appreciate those unique and interesting characters a lot more the second time around. I was also less curious as to how it was going to end and I was able to focus more on the characters journey through Eastern Europe. The descriptions of locations which I often find annoying and needless, I now found poetic. It even rekindled my desire to visit some of these places. I enjoyed the story just as much, if not more the second time I read it.

If you have never reread a book I say to you is "SERIOUSLY? You have to be kidding!" But what I really say is, give it a try. Experience an old favorite anew. You never know, you may enjoy it.

Now these are of course just my opinions. If you agree, leave me a comment. If you disagree, leave me a comment. And as always, HAPPY READING!

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