Sunday, October 2, 2011


I don't reread. I guess that's another strike against me as a reader. All the best readers seem to reread.

Of course, given that I am a children's librarian by profession, I make exceptions for children's picture books. Not only do I frequently reread children's picture books, but I have been known to reread them as much as thirty-two times in one week.

I never get tired of rereading children's picture books. I love anticipating the laughter, the sudden solemnity in the children's faces, the thoughtful looks, that ensue from passages read aloud, class after class, during my busy eight-class-a-day schedule. Children seem to love to hear the same books read aloud, too, over and over, year after year. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Tadpole's Promise. Madeline. Skippyjon Jones. No, David. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Where Is the Green Sheep? Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. We're Going on a Bear Hunt. I have many of these memorized.

So, rereading. I reread a lot of picture books. And I reread poetry. What else? I poured through my old book reviews and found only a handful of rereads. A Wrinkle in Time. My Name is Asher Lev. Gilead. The nonfiction of Anne Lamott. ZAMM. Gone With the Wind. Half Magic. Phantom Tollbooth. That's about it for me and rereading.

The odd thing is that rereading has always been a good experience. An excellent experience, really. The second time through a book I always see things I didn't see before, beautiful language I missed the first time out,  deeper insight into characters, nuances, all things easy overlooked during that initial dive into a book.

Photos reveal the problem: 
Photo on the left shows books I have at home for a possible reread while
photo on the right shows books in my To-Be-Read stacks. 

It's the siren call of the hundreds of books out there I haven't read at all, waiting for me to read them, that keeps me stuck in this life of Re-Read-Less-Ness. It's my American competitive nature, my Texan belief that more is always better.

Every New Year's Day, when I sit down to write my reading resolutions for the next twelve months, I always include a decision to slow down in my reading. I always fail. This year, I'm going to aim once again to slow down and add a new resolution to reread.

Do you often reread? Do you have certain books you like to reread? What helps you choose to reread rather than tackling one of the many unread books you have on hand?


  1. I'm with you. The few books I have re-read, I've really enjoyed, but I can't see re-reading a lot, because there are so many great books I have yet to read the first time! And they keep writing them! I don't see a solution....

  2. I just wrote a post about rereading recently:

  3. There is no good solution, Annette. Unless the government did what the government in Matched did...destroy all books except a select 100. And I don't think I'd like that either!

  4. Thanks, Dana. I'm off to see your thoughts.

  5. I DO re-read, and as you say, always have a different perspective. I'm in my mid 50's, so reading something I read when I was 25 is a lot different now!

    Just now, I'm re-reading REBECCA, by Daphne DuMaurier.

    It is hard to re-read things when there are so many new books on the pile.

    Funny, my Sunday Salon is about picture books - just got a whole pile of them yesterday at a "grandma to be" shower :)

    Bet you'd have some good recommendations!

  6. I used to reread a lot more...but then I wasn't exposed to the plethora of books now available.

    I am rereading The Handmaid's Tale right now...and I plan to reread Gone with the Wind and Uncle Tom's Cabin soon (again!). I think I read those books two or three times each in my younger years.

    And last year, I reread Little Women and Little Men...for a challenge.

    But it's hard to reread very many books and still keep up with the current ones.

    I love picture books, too. Do the libraries feature Judith Viorst's Alexander books? I loved those.


  7. Deb, I don't view not rereading as a "strike" against any reader. Different strokes for different folks. I love to reread my favorites, or those books that I'm trying to master or learn from. Active rereading is something that I began doing probably some twenty years, or so, ago. I guess I've kind of come to realize that all of my bookshelves are, in fact, my TBR shelves. LOL! Have a great week, and thanks for the interesting posting. Cheers! Chris

  8. I've reread books because I had no other books to read - when I was abroad in a non English speaking country without an English library. I enjoyed rereading Gone with the Wind and got a lot more out of it the second time around!

  9. I enjoyed rereading Gone With the Wind and got a lot more from it the second time around.

  10. Any time you need picture book recommendations, just holler at me, ravenousreader!

  11. "It's the siren call of the hundreds of books out there I haven't read at all, waiting for me to read them, that keeps me stuck in this life of Re-Read-Less-Ness."

    Yes, that siren call, that but there are so many more out there. That feeling that the next book will change my life in ways that the one I just finished touched me...there is no re-reading.

    It would be like having a veggie burrito every night for dinner. Don't get me wrong, I love veggie burritos and they taste just a wee bit different every time I read, I mean eat them. Thing is, there is so much out there to tickle my taste buds. I want to try it all. Just like I must read them all.

    Whoa, see what you started?

  12. I've reread books when I had nothing else to read also, Harvee. What's a girl supposed to do?!

  13. I agree with you totally, Gwen. But I do feel like I should reread...I don't know, but something...sometimes!

  14. I am like you and Gwen, it is the call of all those new books out there..but I do have some books that I reread at certain times. When I am world weary To Kill A Mockingbird is my refuge.

  15. Great post – I’m going to Tweet about your blog.

  16. I too hear that sirens call Debbie. It's very powerful. But we won't ever get through everything, even so. I only came to understand rereading relatively recently, maybe in the past 5 years or so. I don't quite remember how it started. Maybe when I was sick one time, and thought I'd try rereading Pride and Prejudice. Maybe when I had to reread Jane Eyre for a group? Either way I really enjoyed the experience of both. You do get so much more out of a reread. Even more than from the initial reading. When I read The Road. I closed the book, thought about it for a few minutes and then opened it up again and read it through again. That was really valuable. If I hadn't reread anything that would never have occurred to me. I keep rereading for special occasions (and special books) these days.

  17. I don't re-read very often, but I always wish that I did more of it.

  18. I have only re-read 1 book in the last decade, and that was a 60 page short story. I am a very diligent reader first time through (no scanning or skipping sections, ever) so as soon as I look at the first page of a book previously read, even several years later, the entire story comes flooding back to me and I do not see the point of reading it again. There are so many other books out there I want to consume! Perhaps in years to come my perspective will change...


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