Every reader’s dilemma:

“So many books, so little time.”

It kills me to know that there are so many wonderful books that I’ll never get the chance to read. Because of that, I don’t usually reread books.

I used to. When I was younger, I reread books all the time. I’ve read each of the Harry Potter books what must be at least a dozen times, and read many of the Dear America books even more than that between the ages of 7-13.

After all, I couldn’t go out and purchase new book, and although I used the library a lot, I would read the books I checked out pretty quickly and then just reread books until the next chance I got to go visit the library again. When I got to middle school and high school, however, I suddenly had a school library where I could go every day at lunch, if I wanted. (And that’s pretty much what I did.) And then when I got old enough to drive, I could drive myself to the library almost anytime I wanted.

For quite a long time, I stopped rereading. In the last year or two, I’ve started rereading every now and then, and it’s been a fascinating learning opportunity.

Here’s what I’ve learned from rereading:

  1. The best way to really understand a book is to read it at least twice.
  2. The first time you read a book, you get the plot. Every time after that, you understand more and more of the subtleties, themes, and how it all ties together.
  3. Some books improve on rereads, and some don’t stand up to any rereading at all. Some books I read once and enjoy them; they were great for that moment in my life, and for whatever it was I needed. But I probably wouldn’t enjoy them if I read them again. And some books I almost feel like you have to read it at least twice in order to enjoy, understand, or appreciate.
  4. Rereading can be comforting.
  5. I’m convinced that one reason that children are particularly likely to want to reread the same books over and over again is because it helps develop your understanding of the world in which the story takes place (however distant or close it is to our own world).
  6. One very good way to judge a book is whether it stands up to multiple rereadings. The best stories and the best writing will feel fresh and exciting no matter how many times you’ve read it.

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