To Reread or Not To Reread? 10 Factors To Consider

I read recently that the United States publishes a little over 300,000 new titles a year. Even if I put only 1% of the new books published this year on my TBR list, I’d be adding 3,000+ titles to my reading plate. That’s just insanity.

So, when I recently saw Goodreads’ announcement that they now have a rereading feature that allows users to track all the times they’ve read a book, I asked myself, “Who wants to reread books, when there are so many new ones to get to? What makes a book worth rereading?”

When I look at the last few years of my reading life, there are only 10 – 15 books that I’ve fully reread and half of them are Harry Potter books! Some of the other titles are:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part- Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
Station Eleven, by Emily St. Mandel
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

But when I think back on it, all these books were fantastic rereads. I feel like I know each of them deeply and intimately. I’m quite certain that I wouldn’t have been able to say that after a first read. So, even though I want to keep up with my new-book reading, I’m open to exploring the world of rereading a little more. But how do I know what’s worth rereading?

After thinking it over, I came up with 10 factors to consider when deciding whether I should read a book again. I hope you can use them too!
  • It has a unique audiobook
    • A great audiobook can create a completely different reading experience. A skilled narrator can really bring the words to life and take you through the story in a brand new way. For me, The Golden Compass is the perfect example. The audiobook version is narrated by a full cast and the drama of it is such fun to listen to!
  • I thoroughly enjoyed it the first time I read it
    • This might seem obvious, but I feel it only makes sense to reread books that you liked the first time around. Unless it’s compulsory for you to read a book again, don’t force yourself to read something you didn’t like. Life is too short!
  • I didn’t love the book on a first read, but appreciated it and probably didn’t read it at the right time
    • There are a few books I’ve read that just didn’t jive with my mind space at the time, but upon a reread, it proved to be quite excellent.
  • It’s a literary classic
    • I’m going pull out my my snobby English major persona, and say that literary classics are classics for a reason. The language, imagery, character development, etc. are deeper and complex than a lot of modern fiction, and readers can only get more out of the book on a second reading.
  • It’s relevant to a current cultural or political issue
    • Sometimes backlist titles make a comeback because of something happening in the news (like 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale right now!).  If it’s something I’ve read before, revisiting it with a new lens can only yield interesting observations. Added bonus: it’ll be a great conversation starter at dinner parties.
  • There’s a sequel coming out
    • I often find that the amount of time that passes between the publication of book and its sequel makes it difficult to remember the details of the story. A refresher can never hurt.
  • A movie adaptation is being released
    • I’ve always been a “can’t watch it ‘til I’ve read it person,” but just because I’ve read something, doesn’t mean I remember it! Sometimes a good decade passes between my first read of a book and when the movie adaptation comes out. If I can’t recall the details of a book, then I can’t in good conscience go see the movie. A reread is in order.
  • I was too young to fully appreciate it
    • I read so many classics in middle school and high school that I liked, but could not have completely understood, simply because of lack of life experience. I remember reading To Kill a Mockingbird in 7th grade and thinking, “Meh,” but when I read it a year ago, it bowled me over and I got SO much more from it.
  • Reading a particular title is a seasonal or yearly ritual
    • I don’t have one, but I can see it happening someday. Most likely, it’ll be Anne of Green Gables in the autumn 🙂
  • It just makes me feel good to read it
    • Like comfort food, sometimes a particular book is the only thing that can make you feel better. This is why I’ve reread Harry Potter so many times!

How do you decide whether or not to reread a book? Share your answers in the comments below!

2 responses to “To Reread or Not To Reread? 10 Factors To Consider”

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  2. Jenny Avatar

    Lord of the Flies was too dense for me to enjoy as a 10th grader, but when I reread it to teach it 9 years ago, it’s brilliance astounded me.

    Similarly, I hate Crime and Punishment a little less each year I reread it to keep up with my AP students.

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