The Reread Factor

One of the things I learned about myself and my reading habits in the past year is how critical I’ve become when it comes to books. I used to be very easy to please when it comes to books. When I started my book blog, I hardly rated anything below two stars, and I always feel guilty when I give books low ratings. Now the first month of 2011 is barely over and I’ve already decided not to finish a book and gave my first negative review for the year.

This brings me to something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. You know how sometimes you love a book so much on the first read that you’ve elevated it on your most favorite books list? Then a few years later, you decide to pick the novel up again and reread it, and you realize that it wasn’t as good as it was when you first read it. Has that ever happened to you?

I named a lot of books as my favorites last year, but their reread factor kind of worries me. I wonder if I would still love them again if I reread them a few years later? Some of the books that are my absolute favorites have that re-read factor. They’re the ones I consider as timeless books, the ones I know I will re-read every now and then and emerge loving it still. For the others…I’m not quite sure yet. In a way, I’m afraid to reread some of them because I’m afraid to lose my love for them. I know I will never know until I do so, but I guess I don’t want to lose my initial enchantment over them. Is that weird? Maybe it’s a sign of growing up?

Some books that has passed the reread test for me, off the top of my head, are: This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti, The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen, Fairy Tale Fail and My Imaginary Ex by Mina Esguerra, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, Invisible Lissa by Natalie Honeycutt and A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (this is a classic, so I think this shouldn’t count?).

What about you? What books have you reread and still loved? Do you have any books that you ended up not liking on a second read?

13 Thoughts on “The Reread Factor

  1. This is actually something that Shannon Hale discussed in her blog before, back when she did posts about “How to be a reader.” Here’s a quote from one of those posts:

    “I’ve always believed that as an author, I do 50% of the work of storytelling, and the reader does the other 50%. There’s no way I can control the story you tell yourself from my book. Your own experiences, preferences, prejudices, mood at the moment, current events in your life, needs and wants influence how you read my every word.”

    So how you feel about a book may change depending on where you are in your life. This has happened to me before but thankfully what happened was I didn’t like the book initially but it grew on me after I reread it. I think we mostly fall in love with books because we can relate to the characters. And who we are changes constantly even if the characters in books don’t. So we may be able to relate more (or less) depending on how we develop as persons. The reread factor is actually one of the things that I consider before I put a book in my favorites list. I always think of whether I’d love the book just as much if/when I reread it before adding it to my favorites.

    • Good point. I think it’s the same as growing up, in general. Our tastes change so often. But it’s also nice when we revisit an old favorite that we’ve only read once and find that it’s still as lovely as the first read. :)

      And also this is why I just trimmed my favorites list. :D

  2. I agree with Ms. Chachic. Some books are meant to be loved and reread and some are not. It really depends on how much you can relate to the characters in the story. I’ll include some of your “reread books” to my list! ;)

    • Of course, there are also the “timeless” books, such as classics, I think? But maybe that’s why classics are considered as such, because their reread factor is high. :)

  3. I read “The Little Prince” every few years and it is always a wonderful surprise. “The Giver” was also great my second time around – I read it when it first came out as a kid and then came back to it as an adult.

    • I think I should reread The Little Prince again. It’s been a while since I last read that. I’ve only read The Giver this year, and I loved it. I do think it would still be as wonderful as the first read. :)

  4. I reread a book that I liked in … mmm, perhaps 8th grade and it did not seem as great as when I first read it. I think it was because I loved what the book was about (girls time traveling and mysteries related to the Maya), and it really captured my imagination when I first read it, but when I reread it as an adult I noticed that the characters were flat and there was something old-fashioned in the writing, although I still thought that the Maya stuff was pretty cool. This book is an obscure book called THE ADVENTURES OF HOLLY HOBBY. Hah. It held up surprisingly well but I didn’t LOVE it when I reread it.

    On the other hand, I’ve reread books like HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE and still loved it. There’s something kind of comforting in what I end up choosing to reread, and sometimes what I do is look for particular scenes that I loved. When I’ve had a bad day, rereading the parts of a book I liked best is enough to make me feel a little bit better. And… is this weird? Having books I know I loved when I first read them, even if I’m not going to go reread them again, feels like a kind of a security blanket.

    • Oh no, I don’t think it’s weird! I like having my favorites around, too, even if I’ve only read them once. It’s like having good friends living with you, who you can turn to anytime you need comfort (even if you would end up turning to old favorites whenever you need that). I think I’m even worse — I’ve started acquiring both ebook and print versions of those books I love even if I’m not sure if I will reread them. ^^

  5. I definitely know what you mean about being scared to re-read a book in case it doesn’t live up to how much you enjoyed it the first time. Like Chachic says, we do change while the characters remain stagnant…some books that used to be re-reads all the time for me I don’t read very much any more. Tastes change, and we may ‘grow out’ of books just as we do out of clothes…although the flip side of that is we grow into new books :)

    Some re-reads that have stayed the test of time (for now, anyway) for me are: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Beauty by Robin McKinley, Feeling Sorry for Celia and The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty, and Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer.

  6. I’ve reread the entire Harry Potter series. Twice for book 3 and 4 (that’s how much of a Potter Fan I am ^^) and still loved it the second (and third) time around. Same goes with The Little Prince. Although this one, I gained a much deeper understanding now that I’ve reread it as an adult. So far, never had a book fall from grace. It’s either I loved the book or still felt ho-hum about it on both reads. Probably because I hardly do rereads nowadays because of the bazillion wonderful books out there that I haven’t read yet. Not unless I’m completely tapped out and couldn’t find anything to borrow from my friend. :D

  7. I have to agree with what Chachic said, it really depends on the mood you were in while reading the book. I also think that as we read our preference for this things evolves. Like you become keen on the plot points and character developments, or starting to notice the pivotal scene in the story and decide on how effective it was on moving the story forward. Reread also helps on understanding the characters more. Mostly on sci-fi and fantasy books on the first read your attention is on the plot, the twist, etc., but when you reread it, your attention is more on of how the characters react to these events. It’s just like rewatching a movie or a tv series. You’d start to notice more the subtle changes and growth after your second watching. :)

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