Of course I re-read books.
It’s only been in recent years that I’ve started to re-read fewer books. It was around the time when I really upped the ante and started buying more books because I learnt you could get them for $2 second hand versus $25 for a new copy. I used to think buying three books from Dymocks during their 2-for-1 sales for $50 was such a splurge. Now I wait for charity sales and struggle out the door with fifteen-plus books for $50.
So it means I have a lot more books to read now. I don’t have to carefully ration new books as an occasional treat because it’s too expensive to get new ones. As of writing this post, my unread book pile is over twenty. I don’t have time to re-read books.
But why do we do it? When we have a thousand unread books on our TBR list, we still re-read. When we are halfway through a current book, we still re-read. When we know we will never get round to reading all the books that we want to in this lifetime or the next, we still re-read.
I know why I do it. I do it because it’s comforting and requires zero effort from me. As much as I enjoy reading, reading new books involves mild risk and effort because I have to concentrate on what happens and I could find the whole novel to be disappointing in the end. Reading something I’ve already read means I already know what happens, I just want to enjoy it again, for leisure’s sake.
To me, reading a new book is the equivalent of going on a first date with a total stranger. We get dressed up and slather some war paint and sit through excruciating small talk in hopes that this one might be the one. And if they are, it’s the start of a beautiful relationship we visit over and over again, one that will end up with us raving to friends and family. But if the date is a disappointment, with their lack of structure in their lives, with their inconsistency, with their nonsensical turn of phrases espousing values that go against what I believe in, if we can’t seem to gel, then I couldn’t be more disappointed.
But re-reading an old favourite is the equivalent of a Friday night in with the long-term partner, whilst crawling into stained sweatpants and eating chocolate (and then wiping our hands on said sweatpants (anyone who says they don’t do this is a bold-faced liar)). It’s comforting, there’s no challenge but it makes you relive all the memories and emotions again.
My go-to book to re-read for years was Harry Potter which is why The Order of The Phoenix is so battered, but to be honest, it wasn’t even my favourite installment (I loved Prisoner of Azkaban). I just kept picking it up whilst waiting for Half Blood Prince and then it became something I turned to whenever I wanted something to do.
I’m not going to ask if you re-read your books; I’ve yet to find a single reader who says they don’t re-read their books. I just want to know why you re-read and what is your most re-read novel.