Confession: I avoid rereading books when possible.
But that’s not possible when you’re in grad school.
Books you read in high school will appear on your class syllabus as required reading. And having read it five years ago doesn’t count.
I once considered rereading books a waste of time. I have reading lists of books I want to read once, and you can’t highlight a book twice.
Yep, I’m that person.
But there’s value to rereading books. Although my grad school days are long behind me, I still pick up a book I’ve already read from time to time.
And you should too.
So why reread books? Because you’re missing out if you don’t.
You Missed A Lot The First Go-Around
Story details go unnoticed the first time you read a book. Since you already know the “what happens next” parts, reread the book to focus on the little things that heighten each plot point, character, and setting. Can you spot the foreshadowing? Can you find hints of a character’s point of view who isn’t telling the story?
You Have A Different Perspective
When I first read Catcher In The Rye as a teenager, I immediately identified with Holden’s point of view and claimed him to be misunderstood.
After rereading the novel as a grad school grown-up, I found him to be very whiny and depressing.
It’s hard to read a book objectively. And when we don’t read objectively, our personalities and life events change how we perceive a story. Were you in a bad place when you read the book before? Read it before a life-changing event? Reread the book through your new filter to see what you notice now about the story.
You Should Analyze Story Structure
Reading is always a constructive task for writers. After you let yourself enjoy the story the first read-through, it’s time to get to work.
What’s working in the story? What’s not? How did the writer succeed in conveying X, Y, and Z? These are questions you should be asking (and perhaps journaling about) when you reread so that you know how to improve your own writing.
Why do you reread books? Share your thoughts below.