January 31, 2011

Rereading

Last week I saw The Untouchables. All comments on the movie aside (apart from the fact that Andy Garcia is the kick-assest of them all), I'm bringing this up because I was asked, after the movie, how many times I'd seen it.

I honestly could not answer. The best I could do was "Umm... Less than ten? Probably around five." At which point I was met with an incredulous look. Apparently the immediate response was -- with so many movies in the world, why would I ever take time to watch a single one even twice, much less five times?

Shrug. The reason I rewatch movies is the same reason I reread books. Because I take something away from the experience, every time. Maybe I'm an extreme -- I've never counted, but I'm fairly certain that among the books I've reread the most, the movies I've rewatched the most, the number approaches twenty. That's almost once a year for every year I've been alive, and since clearly I wasn't watching R-rated movies or young adult books in my early years, that means I've been doing my re-experiencing an average of two or three times a year, for some books.

People read books in the first place (and watch movies, but let's drop that intro for the moment) for so many reasons. To learn, to experience new worlds, new places, new situations. A book can be an escape, a romance, an adventure, or even just a sugary snack. And rereading, to me, is a chance to gain even more. Why read a book once you already know the ending? Because the experience of reading a book, sinking into the world, spending time with fabulous (made-up) people, is so much more than just the ending. It's comfort food, and it's a chance to discover even more, to see a world through different eyes and different perspectives. (And sometimes, I admit, it's because I've forgotten the ending.)

This year I've decided to spend time rereading several books from my childhood, including Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, Little House on the Prairie, and Anne of Green Gables, among others. I started with Anne of Green Gables, and right from the beginning it's hard to come up with a reason why I wouldn't want to go back and spend time with incorrigible Anne, prickly Marilla, shy Matthew, and domineering Mrs. Rachel Lynde, and cheeky Gilbert, among others. It's like spending time with some dear old friends -- the experience has that same cold night-warm blanket-hot cocoa feeling.

Anyway, do you reread books? Why? And which of your books has the highest number?

6 comments:

  1. Yes, I am a re-reader. I'm currently going back trough some of my favorite books, while I also work on my TBR Stack.
    I've re-read each of the Princess Diaries books each time a new one had been released; Hacking Harvard by Robin Wasserman has been at least ten times since I bought it. There's a bunch of other books that I re-read when the mood strikes me, but entirely too many to list.
    I love re-reading because I too tend to take away something new each time I read it. ^_^

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  2. +JMJ+

    I'm a big rereader, too! I remember being shocked when a woman I knew told me that she never reread anything--that, indeed, she sold or gave away books as soon as she had read them--because she didn't want "to waste" time going over something old when there were so many new books to be tried. (Kind of the same thing your friend was implying, I guess.) But I couldn't live/read like that.

    The books I've reread the most are probably Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, Good Wives and Little Men, because I discovered them at the stage of childhood when I was also watching the same movies over and over again. (One summer, my afternoons were not complete without yet another viewing of The Sound of Music. LOL!) But I don't really go back to them now.

    Still, I know them very well and probably always will--and I like that. Part of the romance of reading, for me, is having a book become a part of you like that. Off the top of my head, the only other book I can say that about is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: I've reread it at very different stages of my life and have not only seen new things about it each time, but have also realised that I've somehow grown in harmony with its heroine. I can see my own life between the lines, and sometimes it feels as much my book because I've read it so often as it is Bronte's book because she wrote it.

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  3. Hmmm... I've reread A Walk to Remember and Love Story more times than I care to admit. I've also read The Phantom of the Opera several times, and The Great Gatsby.

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  4. @Orchid

    Ongoing series are definitely the worst! Because of course you have to reread them all to remind yourself of what happened... :)

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  5. @Enbrethiliel

    All those are definitely among my favorites to reread -- although, how could you get over Jo not choosing Laurie? It kills me every time.

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  6. @Kristin Rae

    Phantom of the Opera? Interesting choice! That one's on my list, but I haven't gotten around to reading it the first time yet.

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