With so many readings for school, book recommendations from friends or parents and the latest magazines, articles or pithy tweets to catch up on, it can feel like you never have enough time to read the next book, much less go back to old ones.
Well, here is your friendly neighborhood bookdragon (we eschew “bookworm”) telling you to take a minute — even if you have 70 assignments and three tests coming up — and go re-read one of your favorite books.
I recently spent a weekend re-reading some favorite books and visiting my childhood school library, and I realized how much I’d missed my old literary friends. (Spoiler alert: A lot. I missed them a lot. Much more than I expected.)
The debate over to re-read or not to re-read is contentious and will probably lead to someone eventually getting smacked upside the head with a very large Shakespeare compendium.
Obviously, it can be exciting to start a new book. You have entire new characters to meet, new places to discover and new dialogue to laugh (or cry) at. The next book you open could be one you didn’t know you could live without.
But it can be just as fun to go back and revisit the old characters, the funny dialogue and the scenes you can remember by memory, the books that you have three copies of, the ones with covers you see in the bookstore and spend five minutes catching up with. Or...maybe that’s just me.
Not re-reading your favorite books seems a bit like finally breaking up with someone and moving on. Sure, it’s exciting to experience a new relationship all over again, but don’t you still miss the old one, even just a little bit? Maybe more than you’re willing to admit? No matter how hard you try to move on, there are still reminders of them all over: a selfie together at the bookstore, old quotes posted on your Facebook timeline, a car or style or smell that reminds you of them.
You fell in love with the books for a reason, after all. Don’t they deserve a little credit?
Raise your hand if you’re getting uncomfortable with this metaphor.
Sometimes, authors will stretch out one story into multiple book series, bringing multiple generations of characters into one epic narrative and giving new characters and personalities to adore right along with your old favorites.
If you aren’t lucky enough to have your favorite author give you a ton of stories about your most beloved book friends, you’re again stuck at the re-reading impasse. Well, unless you want to go the fanfiction route, which tends to disappoint.
Do you try out something new, braving forests of new words, or do you return, safely, and curl up with the book you already know you’ll want to spend the weekend with?
There’s always the chance that, in story continuations, something will happen to your favorite character, or they’ll reveal a personality trait that you don’t love, or the random eighth book in the series will just be a total departure from the original awesome ones and you’ll have to ignore its awkward existence entirely.
But in re-reading, the first story is there for you to enjoy over and over again. No new character flaws can be revealed, no accidental missteps are taken. No plot points are endlessly repeated in sequels to the point of ruination.
And really, admit it: With all that reading for class due next week, you don’t have enough energy to introduce yourself to new book characters again, do you?