Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Encore Reading: Why I Don't Re-read Books

 Adam C. Zern shares a opines on "encore reading" and why he doesn't re-read books, even the really good ones:

"I am extremely unwilling to re-read a book I have already read.  'Encore reading,' as I call it, is a practice apparently fully embraced by devout readers but one in which I have avoided except in the most rare cases; however, I do understand why other dedicated readers do it and am fairly convinced their reasoning is solid.

In the month of May, The Thousander Club selected To Kill a Mockingbird as the book of the month.  It's an excellent book—one which I love dearly.  (So much so my wife and I named our third daughter Scout).  Yet, I couldn't bring myself to re-read the book.  Why?  Because there are so many other books to be read.  I am certain now I don't read nearly as fast as others and with my goal of reading 1,000 books, I feel as if there is little time to be 'wasted.'  But I know 'wasted' is absolutely the wrong word to use.  Re-reading a book like To Kill a Mockingbird would be many things but certainly not a waste of time. 

stack of booksI keep a stack of books on my desk at home, which is a constant reminder of the books I have yet to read.  Therefore, it's difficult for me to pick one up I've already enjoyed and, quite frankly, one I already have on my 'Read' list, and complete it again.  The first thing I do after completing a book is add it to my official 'Books I have Read' list, and re-reading a book doesn't allow me to do that.  It doesn't get me one more book closer to my goal of 1,000. 

Is numbers everything?  Of course not.  But numbers do matter quite a bit in my mind.  There is so much to be learned, so much to be enjoyed, or even so much to dislike, hate, or refute.  If we never expose ourselves to those things, then we can't receive any of those benefits.  I'm constantly thinking of what I don’t know and I see the next book as an antidote to some portion of that ignorance, and 'encore reading' hasn't found a good place in my reading habits yet.  Could it?  Certainly.  But right now I can't talk about it because I have something else to read."

Other topics of interest:
Her Name is Scout
What You Don't Know is the Reason
3 Reasons Why You Should Read


  1. I reread lots of books, a couple as many as 20 times (LOTR Trilogy & The Stand). If I love a book's characters, then I go back and reread the book after several years, it's like visiting old friends. I read Lonesome Dove so many times that I finally just had to get it out of my house so that I'd be forced to read other books and not just keep rereading that one. I will never get to read all the books on my "Want To Read" list anyway, so I may as well get as much enjoyment as I can out of ones I read and really liked.

  2. I was a big re-reader in my teens, thanks to lack of access to fresh books. I don't do it so much anymore, for the reasons you cite - too many new books to read. But, here's a question - do you ever re-watch movies you've seen before? Or is it fun to revisit the emotions and look for details you missed in your favorites? I'm not a big goal setter when it comes to books - reading's like breathing, I'm going to do it anyway so counting seems superfluous. I've recently given myself permission to re-read some old favorites and enjoyed the experience more than I expected. Of course, I was waiting on a hold from the library at the time ...

    1. I re-watch films all of the time; however, re-watching a film takes little effort and only takes only, on average two hours, whereas re-reading a book can take a few days to a few weeks. Setting the goal gives me a push to keep reading. Re-reading a book hurts that "push" a little bit.

  3. I re-read because I am so often disappointed in "new" books I have great hopes for. It's depressing. So I go back to the greats and bask.