Rereading: Sin or Sanctuary?

Do you reread books? Rereading is a guilty pleasure for some readers; it feels sinful to read something you’ve already experienced when there are so many books out there to discover. And while it is unrealistic to think you’ll ever read everything, it doesn’t hurt to try, right? Ambition and passion are good things!

As much as I love to discover new books, there are a few old favorites that I keep returning to over and over. It’s comforting to be back with characters you know, to watch the sidelines for extra details, and to get a greater appreciation of the craft that went into writing the book. These are a few of the books I think deliver on second (or third or fourth) reads.

Persusasion by Jane Austen 

While not as glamorous as some of her other books, Persuasion is all about revisiting something from your past (which makes it particularly well suited to rereading.) On the first go round, all you might care about is figuring out if Captain Wentworth will ever figure out how amazing Anne truly is and marry her. On a second read, you can appreciate the subtle characterizations, the carefully constructed conversations, and the oh so important posturing that is a part of any Austen courtship.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

Rereading this book is both wonderful and sad. You know what will happen to all the characters, and long to be able to intervene, but you also relish getting to spend time with them again. On a second read though, every little detail seemed to stand out to me more and gain even deeper significance. It is still a tearjerker on rereads, but that is just a testament to the skill of Zusak. The characters feel incredibly real, and while some of the suspense is gone, watching the events unfold without the pure terror and anxiety I felt the first time allowed me to really observe the characters and their actions. I fell in love with them all, especially Rudy, even harder.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

These are just pure enjoyment and nostalgia. Particularly for those of us who grew up reading Harry Potter, there is nothing to transport you to childhood like Harry Potter. I can tell you where I read each book—and opening each of those lovely hardcovers brings back those memories. One common thread among good rereads, in my opinion, is a richly developed world that the reader can escape into. Rowling is famous for having built one of the most elaborate, comforting, endlessly entertaining fantasy worlds ever, and walking down Diagon Alley, sneaking through Hogwarts at night, and taking tea in Hagrid’s hut feel like home to her legion of fans.

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster 

The first time I read this book I was 12 and had never experienced more than a schoolgirl crush. As I continued to read this book throughout my teens and adulthood, Lucy Honeychurch’s search for love and a purpose in life has become richer, deeper, and more resonant. The best books travel with us as we age and mean new things to us everytime we read them; this book is a great one to explore. Plus, deciding how you really feel about Cecil can take years. In fact, this has inspired me to read it again and see if I can figure out what I think of him!

Any rereading favorites of your own? Share them in the comments.


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