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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » How many of you re-read the same books?

   
Author Topic: How many of you re-read the same books?
HuntGod
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I was talking to a coworker the other day and the conversation moved to books and somewhere in there it came up that I often reread books. He looked at me strangely and didn't seem to understand why you would reread a book. Is this something that is strictly an issue of someone who enjoys reading, like myself, and someone who is not a big reader, like my coworker, or is am I strange?

I don't reread everything, but books I've enjoyed, I often will reread several times, I don't see it as any different that watching a rerun of a TV show you like or viewing a movie repeatedly.

Am I alone?

For reference purposes, I've read Dune probably 15 times and still enjoy it, I've read it's sequels probably 5-6 times each.


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Matt Lust
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I must admit one thing. I've almost stopped "reading" books in paper form.

I get the audio book play it while I'm writing my thesis/term paper/conference paper/browsing the internet. I simply don't have the time to dedicate my attention so I multi-task.

When I read Analog/FSF/Asimov's its from fictionwise.com.

But that being said I re-listen to books all the time.

I probably "read" more this way but it of course isn't the same but I do fill like I've experienced the story.


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arriki
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I've had people act the same way about rereading books.

I just look at them and ask them why they re-listen to the same music? After you've heard a song once, you know what it says, don't you? Why bother listening to it a second or even third time?

As to me -- I had one book that I read AT LEAST once a week for over twenty years. I only stopped doing so when our Tibetan Mastiff chewed it to pieces one day. I bought another copy but somehow the magic wasn't there any longer.

I do re-read books a lot. For pleasure as well as for study.


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TMan1969
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I have re-read a few Robert Jordan books (The Wheel of Time series) to refresh my mind...and I am still waiting for the series to finish - will he finish it already!!!How many more parts are there?
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dee_boncci
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I have reread books, but only a few: LOTR, The Stand, come to mind. Usually, I don't, unless I found the book extremely enjoyable the first time around. I will probably reread The Song of Fire and Ice books before the next one comes out.
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rstegman
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I never re-read books, mainly because I used to remember the plots of every book I read. I had not read a novel since 2000 because I was mostly active in writing and catching up on magazines.

When I was reading heavily, once in a great while, I would run across a novel I had read before but did not realize it until I was half way into it, when I ran across a scene I recognized. That was rare, though.

Recently, I ran across some romance novels I got back in the 90s, so I started reading one of them to see if one author was as good as I remembered. I was shocked that I had no idea what the plots were or how they would end. I am planning to sit down and re-read most of my library as time goes on.

Basically, if you remember the plot and the endings, one does not need to read it again unless you are studying the writing.


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arriki
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I don't re-read novels because of the plots. Once I have read the plot, I'll remember it.

I reread because I want to experience again something about the story. People I want to "hang out" with...again. Tarzan, Stephanie Plum (with Janet Evanovich), Arkady Renko (with Martin Cruz Smith), the last Minotaur (with Thomas Burnett Swann), a welsh colonel in Cairo in 1908 (the Mamur Zapt books), Harry Potter, etc.

Or, places I want to go again. Middle Earth, ancient Athens (with Mary Renault). Darkover (with the early Bradley books), Jupiter (with Ben Bova), the far-flung world of the atevi (with CJ Cherryh).


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Robert Nowall
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If a book strikes me as interesting enough, I'll start reading it again, sometimes from the beginning, sometimes just skipping about. (The latter more of a non-fiction thing.)

I don't think a year has gone by that I haven't reread "The Lord of the Rings" since I first read it. I've gone through, oh, five or six different editions of it in the process.

Other books come up here and there. Heinlein (not as often), H. Beam Piper (same), Asimov (usually his memoirs, which I've read cover-to-cover over forty times), the abovementioned Thomas Burnett Swann (every four or five years), oh, a lot of things.

Sometimes I'll pick up something I read when I was a kid (geez, it seems like a long time ago now), reread it, and understand it better. There's a lot in Heinlein I didn't get then, that I do now. I reread Sturgeon's "Baby Is Three," a story I found confusing when I read it at about age eleven or twelve---but this time around seemed both brilliant and clear as a bell.

It's not a waste of time. I think every time I've read "Lord of the Rings," I've picked up on something different, something that was always there but just escaped my notice.


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Wolfe_boy
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I'm a terrible snob with books sometimes. I don't like to take other people's advice, read a book they thought was good. I do force myself, but more often than not I just pick up a book from my shelf I've already read at least a dozen times and have at 'er.

I'm getting better, especially now that I'm trying to broaden my writing by broadening my reading, but for about 4 year there, I don't know that I read more than one or two new books a year, just cycled through the same few dozen I truly love.

Jayson Merryfield


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Rick Norwood
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arriki says he reread the same book once a week for twenty years. The only book I can think of that would stand up to that kind of rereading is Strunk and White's The Elements of Style.

As a writer, you naturally want to write so vividly and enjoyably that your readers will come back again and again, and tell all their friends.

I would estimate that out of 100 people who actually write, about 10 sell, and 1 sells on a regular basis. Out of 100 people who sell on a regular basis, 1 makes a living at it. Out of 100 people who make a living writing, 1 will still be read after the first paperback edition has gone off sale. It is those writers, the writers whose work lives on after them, that are worth rereading, 1 writer in a million: Homer, Shakespeare, Tolkien, LeGuin, and, yes, Kipling, Edger Rice Burroughs, and Robert E. Howard.

I've found that some books that I read forty years or more ago I've completely forgotten, and it is like a new experience. That happened recently with Asimov's The Stars, Like Dust.

[This message has been edited by Rick Norwood (edited July 01, 2007).]


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KayTi
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All the time. In fact, my re-reading gets in the way of my reading! Because I'm busy re-reading a book, I find I don't have time for the new stuff that I'm interested in or have finally picked up or borrowed from the library.

I find that really good stories are really good regardless of how well I know the story. The Princess Bride, A Wrinkle in Time, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Harry Potter, Ender's Game are all on my short list of often re-read titles.

Like arikki, I don't re-read for plot, usually I eagerly anticipate the plot turns and remember just where they are. Instead, I re-read to hang out with these characters, to go to another place in my head, to enjoy the way a writer creates a world that I can sink into, to relive the thrill.


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debhoag
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I re-read a lot. I've always done that. It never occurred to me that the opinion of people who don't read is normative in any way. And I can safely say I have never listened to an audiobook, Although when we travel, sometimes I peruse the audiobook rack and get quite a kick out of picturing what the truckdrivers are listening to. Self-help books seem to be right up there these days, which makes me think we have a lot of sensitive-new-age truckers on the road now.
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SteveG
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I don't have time anymore to reread books. I try to read when I am not writing, and there is so much fantasy out there to adsorb. Every time I go to the book store I see a new series I want to read.
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Lynda
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I've lost track of the number of times I've read the Harry Potter books, and have listened to them on CD even more - with them playing in the car (I have a 6 CD changer), I can drive tirelessly for hour after hour, but without them, I get exhausted after a hundred miles. (Good thing I'm not someone who has to drive or a living!) I've re-read other books many times too - Lord of the Rings, Stranger in a Strange Land, many others. I enjoy hanging out with Harry and his friends, and Frodo and Sam, Merry and Pippin. I like their company, and with richly-plotted books like these, I can find nuances, hints, red herrings, clues, other things I haven't noticed by re-reading them.

Lynda


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DeepDreamer
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I have a few books I reread often, (once a year or so), because I love the story, I love the characters, I love the language, the magic of the book. There are some books I love to revisit, because I discover something new every time. There are some that are like old friends. Some that are textbooks for magical writing. And some are just good for lightening a dark day.
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Rick Norwood
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Any thoughts on authors who write in a way that demands that you reread, such as Gene Wolfe. There is too much in a Wolfe story for anyone to get it on the first pass, though the first pass is usually a lot of fun.

The director of The Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End said that you need to see the movie twice to understand it. In that case, I think the writers were at fault, though there is certainly a lot of fun stuff in the film.


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ChrisOwens
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When I was younger, I reread books all the time. I must've reread the Chronicles of Amber series five times over. LOTR--only three times. However, lately, I've been rereading less and less. I'm still discovering lost classics from the sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties or finding intriguing modern writers. Plus I have less free time. Of course, had I more time, I'd spend some of it rereading.
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InarticulateBabbler
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I re-read my favorites. I've literally read my copy of Robert R. McCammon's Boy's Life to tatters. Though, nowadays, I mostly re-read to my kids. I buy books by the tens and twenties, so I have a lot of new reading material yet to sift through.
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Mauvemuse
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I reread sometimes, but not as much as I used to. I go into bookstores about every other week and almost always find something to buy, and that takes precidence over other books. In the last few years I was reading less, but this year I've read about a book a week since the fall (so that's why I did so badly in school...). Of all of these new books (about 30) I now wat to reread maybe 5. But I'm not going to until I've finished all of the library books and books on my shelf (about 8).

So basically I like to reread (usually for good writing, rather than plot, since, as it's been mentioned, you already know the plot), but would rather read something completely new.

Oh, and I'm rereading Harry Potter for Deathly Hallows .

[This message has been edited by Mauvemuse (edited July 01, 2007).]


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HuntGod
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It's funny you mention Robert Mccammon. I had a customer named Bob Mccammon, he was an avid strategy gamer and shopped with me for years. Never in all that time and numerous long discussions with him did his profession come up. Then a friend gave me a copy of Wolf's Hour, which I read and enjoyed. I then discovered that Robert Mccammon lived in the Birmingham, Alabama area, I didn't pay much attention to the photo over the blurb. The next time I saw Bob I mentioned having read Wolf's Hour and Stinger and had just started Swan Song. I asked if he was any relation. Bob got a slightly amused look on his face and asked if I had the book with me. I reached under the counter, retrieved it and handed it to him. He calmly flipped it to the inside back cover and held it up next to him. Imaging my surprise...I have since read Boy's Life (kindly signed by him) many many times and revisit it very often since it is set in a fictional version of my hometown and the tales and locations are all very familiar.


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InarticulateBabbler
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Yeah, I loved and have re-read The Wolf's Hour, too. In fact, I have read most of his work. I envy your signed copy of Boy's Life. It's my very favorite book.
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Robert Nowall
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I should mention I've got piles and piles of books I haven't gotten around to reading yet---I mean to, but there just isn't enough time in the day. (Someday I'll be crushed to death under a pile of them, I'm sure.)

*****

I've had contact with this or that "famous writer." Some were correspondents before their bestsellers---some were after that. I'm not one for intruding, but I suppose you can't want to be a writer for as long as I have without coming into contact with other writers.


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Corky
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I'm rereading the Harry Potter books right now, not for plot so much as for clues (I like trying to second-guess authors, and I believe it's a writerly thing to do). I'm on book 4 and I hope to be finished before I start book 7.

I've read LORD OF THE RINGS more times than I can count, and other books at least twice.

I recently started reading PURSUIT by Thomas Perry and did not realize that I had already read it (a while ago), until I was looking something else up in my reading log and saw the title listed. Makes me wonder how much attention I pay to some books. Haven't decided whether or not I'm going to finish re-reading it yet.

Like Robert, I have piles of books I haven't read yet and want to read someday.


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JasonVaughn
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I used to re-read all the time but then it occured to me that I'm never gonna have time to read all the great books out there so why make this worse by re-reading. Some books may be amazing but I prefer the experience of a good book that's new than a great book I've read before. Without the suspense and surprise most books generally aren't worth re-reading anyway.
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ArachneWeave
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I liked arriki's response.

Yes, I reread. I used to do it much more compulsively, as a teen. Now I'm writing full time I'm doing my best to get lots of new material (fiction and non) under my belt.
But I always want to see a really good movie or book after I've finished it, to catch all the nuances. A book not worth reading much will not have anything to sustain that second-time interest.

Emma reveals layers upon layers of irony on re-reads, after the endings are known.

I also just like having the assurance of what is going to come, to actually sit back and enjoy the stories again.

The new Pride and Prejudice movie required two watchings in a row; the first to accustom me to the way the story was portrayed, the second to actually enjoy it. (And a third, for the director's commentary.)
It's like hearing a song again, almost.

Books on my somewhat yearly re-reading list are:
Lord of the Rings (more spaced than most, as it take me a while to read the whole thing) with the Hobbit, too
The Blue Castle (L. M. Montgomery)
Beauty (Robin McKinley)
Austen books
The Thief, etc (Megan Whalen Turner)
Middlemarch (George Eliot)
Walking on Water (L' Engle; very frequently)
Seven Daughters, Seven Sons (historical fiction)

And more, as time goes on, while others phase out


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wrenbird
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I agree with JasonVaughn.
There are SO many good books out there that I want to read. I feel like if I spend too much time re-reading books I won't ever get to that "want to read" list I have in my head (that grows every day).
That said, who can resist revisiting an old favorite? The two books I re-read thus far this year were Buck's The Good Earth, and The Great Gatsby.

[This message has been edited by wrenbird (edited July 03, 2007).]


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tigertinite
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I reread all of the time, more often than not I'll read a mystery once to get the story and second to find out how the author tricked me. If I really liked the story I'll reread it outloud with my siblings during car trips. Sometimes I'll reread it to remember old friends, others I'll read confusing sections again.
I tend to read rather quickly so often I'll find myself reading a book from the library one and a half times, once to get the plot one half to catch those details that I didn't notice the first time. I figure if a book isn't good enough for a reread then it was probably a waste of my time in the first place.

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Balthasar
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Like Jason Vaughn, there are too many good books out there that I haven't read to spend time rereading books I've already read. Besides, I've found that nearly every book I've reread has been ruined by the second reading. So I've opted to enjoy my memories of my favorite books rather than have them ruined by rereading them.

That being said, the one trilogy I am able to reread is the original DRAGONLANCE CHRONICLES. I don't know why this is.

I have yet to reread THE LORD OF THE RINGS, but that's on my list. I have no concern that Tolkien will get old.

Then there's Hemingway. I can reread Hemingway all day and never get bored.

But that's about it.


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