I was talking to my bestest friend slash roommate today, and she was telling me about a historical fiction novel that she was reading for the third time or so. It was clear that she enjoyed the book pretty darn well, though one of the things that stuck out to me was the fact that she was going through it for a time that wasn’t the first. Reading a book more than once, that’s something that’s different to me, but apparently very common to many people. I do it myself, just extremely rarely, so I suppose the concept still surprises me from time to time.
With the exception of a number of books I can count on one hand, I just don’t read books more than once. It’s never interested me. I can watch movies more than once, listen to a song more than once, etc. but not books. I think it has something to do with the length. I think a lot of it may have to do with the fact that I’m kind of picky about how I spend my time. Whenever I’m doing something, I’m thinking, I’m sure I could be doing something more useful than this. Even if I am doing something useful. So to read a book, something that could take hours and hours, is a hassle.
When I read a book for the first time, I’m going on a new adventure. Around every corner is a surprise, something that keeps me wanting more, my desire to fill in the blank spaces of my knowledge and reach the last page making me stay up long past when I should have gone to sleep. But if I’ve already read the book, there are no surprises. I know everything. It’s not new. It’s taking the same path, watching everything happen from a third person perspective instead of feeling like I’m involved in the book anymore. I like the feeling that I’m in a book, that I’m going on some quest with the characters… but if I’ve read the book already, I don’t have that feeling. And it sucks.
The photo above is my copy of The Lord of the Rings, worn and used. I picked it up, I believe, just as I started middle school, and it’s been taken everywhere and read countless times. Why do I make an exception for this? The language is beautiful, the story so fantastic and everything so awesome that I don’t mind revisiting the world. It feels like I learn something new every time, and even if not, the writing is just done so well that I get hooked just by opening to a random page. Perhaps it’s also to do with how huge the world is, I’m not sure. But this is one of the only books I will ever read more than once.
I know this is a bit odd, though. Most people I know read books over and over again all the time. For me, the knowledge I gained from the first read turns me away from reading it again. I already know it all (unless it’s been so long that I’ve forgotten it all).
What do you read more than once, and why? What brings you to read something more than once, even if you already know what’s going to happen?