I know I’ve said it many times before, but I really have a hard time rereading books. I can totally see the appeal, but I really struggle with the idea that I’m reading something I’ve already read when there are so many books out there that I want to read and haven’t yet. I also have this inherent fear that I won’t like a favorite as much if I read it again (and let’s face it, we only ever want to reread favorites, right?) Because of all that, I’ve only reread 3 books (for fun; school doesn’t count). And the most recent one is what sparked me to write this post.
The backstory: I still consider myself to be a huge fan of the Percy Jackson series. It has, however, been 5 years since I read a book in this series (Blood of Olympus. I just looked up when it released.) And I know a lot of people don’t really find that weird, and most of me doesn’t. But there is a part of me that wonders what about those books I loved and why they’ve stuck with me. It’s kind of the same deal with Harry Potter, and it’s been even longer since I read those, but Harry Potter is something that I am continually exposed to through new media and rewatching the movies. I can’t say that for Percy Jackson (movies? What movies?). Since The Lightning Thief musical released their cast album (go listen to it. Seriously.), I realized there’s a lot I really don’t remember about the series, especially the original 5 books. So I decided I’d just go for it: I was going to reread The Lightning Thief.
I felt a little silly. I’m a 20-year-old college student reading a book written for middle schoolers. But you know what they don’t tell you about books for middle schoolers? They are pretty damn fun, and in the ways you least expect. Sure, some of the 12-year-old banter and jokes seem a little ridiculous or even cringy, but overall, I really loved it again. And that’s probably a testament to Riordan, who I still think is an epic author after all these years, and a testament to the story, but it’s also incredibly nostalgic.
So let’s go through this. If I don’t like rereading – and I don’t think this is going to be a habit I stick with – why am I doing it?
1. Nostalgia for days
Like I said, it was just one big blast to the past reading The Lighting Thief again some 10 years later (has it really been that long? Damn. (or should I say dam?)) Maybe my time in middle school wasn’t my glory days, but the books I read were good, and they’ve stuck with me to this day. There’s just something about remembering how much you loved a book when you read it the first time years ago.
2. Reliving the best moments
This is also the reason I always say I’m going to go back and reread Harry Potter. Being able to experience something you still think about all over again or remembering something you forgot about and wonder how in the world you forgot it is really something else. I can’t believe I forgot 12-year-old Perseus Jackson really had the guts to mail Medusa’s head to Olympus. How in the world do you even forget something like that?! It was a shock all over again to read that bit, and it might’ve been the highlight of my whole reread.
3. Foreshadowing actually makes sense
I know I talked about it for the majority of my Strange the Dreamer reread review, but it is really kind of cool to actually catch the little hints authors drop you. It’s kind of miraculous, really, the way authors have such a clear plan in their head that they know at the very beginning what’s going to happen at the very end and can tell you without you knowing. It gives you a whole new perspective on the book and story as a whole and makes you truly appreciate the author’s craft.
4. You get to be more critical
Okay, this might not actually sound like something positive, but hear me out. As much as I say I hate rereading because I’m worried I won’t like a book as much the second time around, I also acknowledge that a reread has the potential to let you be more critical of a book. I am firm believer that your favorite books don’t have to be, and rarely are, perfect. They all have their flaws, and in some ways it’s good to notice them. They don’t always detract from a book, and, if they do, maybe it’s good that you’ve questioned it.
5. The books on your shelves? They can wait.
This is really the hardest for me to grasp. I typically feel such an immense pressure to constantly consume new media and books and feel guilty when I’m not. I mentioned that rereading a favorite is a common way for people to overcome reading slumps when I wrote about that last year, and I think I’m beginning to see the appeal. Rereading something is better than not reading something (for the most part; sometimes you do need a break.) And if rereading is going to make you feel guilty, and it does for me, then perhaps both you and I have to reconsider why we’re reading in the first place: because you want to, or because something is making you feel like you have to?
So maybe I’m not the world’s next convert to rereading. I still find the allure of new books greater than those of old ones. But I am starting to see why people like it. I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever do with any regularity, but I do think that, every once in a while, it can be a nice breath of fresh air. I’m committed to rereading, and in some cases reading for the first time, all of Rick Riordan’s books just because of the backstory to this. And I’ll probably get to Harry Potter again at some point (hopefully before I’m reading it to my kids). In the meantime, I’m going to stick with how much I enjoy reading books that are new to me.
What are your thoughts on rereading? Do you do it regularly or once in a blue moon? If you don’t, would you ever consider it?