The Pleasures of Rereading

"Teddy Bears Reading Group 09." Photo courtesy of jonno259's photostream (from Flickr Creative Commons)

I just started rereading The Lord of the Rings, inspired by having given my eleven-year-old dragon-loving nephew a nice hardback set for Christmas. Before that I went through the 7-volume corpus of Harry Potter (in preparation for the movie, though I was only partway through v. 6 when it came out). I was interested to see a discussion thread in Goodreads comparing the two series and asking folks which one they like the best.

I said it was like asking a parent which is their favorite child. Some books are just special, and special in different ways, and those are the ones I like to reread. For me, the question of whether I will want to reread a book once I’ve finished the first time is an important one. First, if I don’t want to reread it, I might as well just borrow it from the library. (Hey, I know, I know. I’m a writer, too, and I want people to buy my books, but there’s only so much money and space in the house.) Now with ebooks becoming so cheap and prevalent, they may become the new option for just reading one time. And for writers, that’s all to the good.

I like to read just before going to sleep, but too often a new book is going to keep me awake, turning the pages, wondering how it comes out. And I’m getting too old for that. I need my sleep, especially when it’s cold and the days are short. In winter, I become a hibernating animal (or wish I could). That’s when I trot out the old favorites, Tolkien and J.K. Rowling, and for something completely different from those, good old reliable Barbara Pym, who makes the most mundane lives somehow intensely interesting. Classics like A Tale of Two Cities and Jane Eyre.

I could go on and on.

What are your favorite rereads, books to stay cozy in bed with on these long winters’ nights?

11 Comments

  1. Karen Duxbury said,

    December 30, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    I reread The Shining almost every year. I wait for a cold, rainy, miserable day then I snuggle up in my favorite chair and devour the book again.

    • December 30, 2011 at 7:24 pm

      Stephen King is a heck of a writer, but The Shining scared the dickens out of me! I would only reread it if there were lots of people in the house!

      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. December 30, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    I join you in the love for reading Jane Eyre. I keep saying I will order the original (published in England) Harry Potters and read them in JKR’s own words. That is still a goal.

    I’m a huge fan of Nancy Mitford’s work. She always cheers me, and I read something of hers every few months. She was not prolific, so I have to spread it out.

    There are also a couple of Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine novels that I reread. My theory is, if I read them often enough, I’ll figure out how she did this and that!

    • December 30, 2011 at 7:29 pm

      Good point about the JK Rowling books. I remember hearing that the later books kept more or most of her Briticisms, but it would be interesting to get the original editions of her earlier ones.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Loni Emmert said,

    December 30, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    I, too, re-read The Hobbit just before the LOFR movies came out, and I love to re-read Dickens. With him, I typically highlight passages I love and re-read them as I’m reading the book and then will pick up his books to read again or sometimes check it out on audio from the library. I have also re-read some of the Chronicles of Narnia, and other childhood classics like Huck Finn. Such fun! Great topic, thanks!!

    • December 31, 2011 at 11:22 am

      Another Dickens fan, hooray! I credit Dickens with my love for words and the shape of language. I had a subscription to a book club that sent out nice hardback editions of children’s classics, and I still have their edition of his Christmas stories. Reading A Christmas Carol made me a Dickens fan for life and I still think he’s hard to beat when it comes to sheer, luxuriant work with words.

  4. Gigi Pandian said,

    December 31, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Whenever I need a pick-me-up, I re-read Borrower of the Night by Elizabeth Peters, the first book in the Vicky Bliss mystery series. It’s a quick read that feels like sitting down with an old friend. It’s been a favorite of mine since I was a teenager.

    • December 31, 2011 at 11:23 am

      I love Elizabeth Peters, too. Her Amelia Peabody series is one of those I reread when I need to be cheered up. I’ll have to branch out into her other series.

  5. Gayle Feyrer said,

    December 31, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    I reread favorites often. The Lord of the Rings at least once a decade. Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles. The Harriet Vane arc of the Lord Peter Wimsey series. All The King’s Men. Pride and Prejudice. I love the resonance the books acquire on rereading.

    • January 1, 2012 at 1:39 pm

      Dorothy Dunnett is an author I’ve heard recommended before. I’ll have to add her to my TBRs.

      Thanks for stopping by

  6. Gloria Alden said,

    January 3, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I have favorites – even mysteries when I know who dunnit – that I like to reread. I’ve reread all of Jane Langton’s delicious mysteries at least once and sometimes more. I see others like Pride and Prejudice that others have commented on rereading as I have. As a third grade teacher for 20 years, I reread my favorites like the first 3 or 4 books of the Chronicles of Narnia and other excellent books every year and never tired of them. For 15 years or more, I cried over parts of The Cay and had to hand the book to one of my wide eyed good readers to finish the passage while I mopped up. Actually, my students understood my crying over that, but couldn’t understand my crying when the mother in The Sign of the Beaver braved blizzards to get to her son for Christmas in the cabin he was left in charge of by his father months before. It was happy, right? Only a mother could understand that, I guess.


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