Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rereaders

As an agent who reads client manuscripts several times over (and one more for good measure after that), I'm not a rereader in "real" life (real life being the world in which I am solely a reader, reading for pleasure). I thought Rereading would make an interesting post.

Why don't I reread? Probably because I enjoy the experience of reading for the first time. I read for pleasure--much like you'd enjoy a movie--that thrill you get watching/reading a high tense scene, or getting to know a new character, slowly like a new friend. But if I read something again, I don't get that experience. Rereading takes you into a different world--you see new things, you start analyzing, second guessing yourself and the author. If you're reading for the sake of learning or analyzing, you lose a bit of the pleasure. I don't like doing that (unless I'm editing of course, then I LOVE it--ah, give me a little control and I'll create WW3--and yes, I'm aware I'd make a great story book villain).

In a previous post, Comfort Books, I mentioned that Ella Enchanted was one of the few books I've reread (I can't count how many times I've read that book). So why have I reread a childhood favorite but not an adulthood favorite (Hunger Games for example, I've read the entire series only once)? Probably because I was friends with all the characters and I didn't mind rereading their adventure. But also, because it reminds me of my childhood. The only thing I'd gain from rereading Hunger Games is a better appreciation for how great an author Suzanne Collins is. Harry Potter, yes, I've reread. But mostly for education value and to keep up with my friends' incredible ability to keep little details in their minds (I was lost in conversations that dealt with the tiny details in the series--I was and still remain a loyal Potter head--I have a Tonks wig and Voldemort's wand--again with the evil villain thing!).

There is one more book I will reread. Wuthering Heights. I've read it a few times, and will probably read it a few more in my life time. Because I love it? No! I'm actually obsessed with how much I dislike that book. I don't understand the appeal. So I will read it more times than my favorite books just to figure it out.

Let's discuss. Are you a rereader? Why? Why not? If you do reread, is it to relive a pleasure, or for education? (You have more writerly minds than I do, so maybe you enjoy picking books apart to see how they were constructed?).

Happy rereading!

26 comments:

Jayme said...

I am a re-reader...mostly books that I love, but I don't analyze them when re-reading either.

I do want to say that I'm relieved that someone else doesn't like Wuthering Heights! I do not understand what the big deal is either. Now I don't feel so alone...

Suzi McGowen said...

I'm a huge re-reader. I've read "The Enchant Emporium" more than 20 times this year!

I love reliving the experiences of the book. They're liking hanging out with friends :)

I re-read for comfort. When I've read something I don't care for, I'll go back to favorite books and authors to "cleanse my palate".

If I'm going to read on a work night, it *has* to be a book I've read before. That way, I can put it down at bedtime. Otherwise, I would read all night, and miss work the next day.

I do re-read for education, but that style of re-reading is very different, and I don't get lost in the book.

Ru said...

I re-read for a lot of reasons - experiencing a favorite book again, learning something new, but the main one is that I've noticed I'm a skimmer. If a book is exciting enough, I find myself skipping through anything that looks like it might be description or back story until I get back to the action. Then the re-read becomes filling-in-the-blanks time.

Amy Parker said...

Rereader? Not so much...except when I'm down about something or need a pick me up and then I sometimes reread a book that made me forget the world for a little while. I don't experience quite the same magic as I did the first time around, but it's still a little like snuggling with childhood blanket.

Cynthia said...

There as been only one book I can reRead and that is Jane Erye.

Aldrea Alien said...

I reread. Not right now as I've a slew of new books. But I know I'll get back to the others after a while. A long while.
It's been years since I've read some of the books I own and more will pass before I get back to them. I'm bound to forget all but the most important facts in that time. Which is sort of what makes it almost new to me. Like an old friend whose been overseas for ages.

As I've little free time, I don't think I'd find much fun in re-reading for the sake of analyzing. I'm likely to forget anyhow since I read at night. But I have on occasion found myself trying to re-phrase a sentence or picking out a typo, so I'd like to think that I'm soaking in a little of the structure while I'm reading. ^_^

Tess Sharpe said...

I have a collection of books I re-read every year (it gets bigger and bigger each year), but there are other books that I can only read once. THE HUNGER GAMES are my big one-timers, mostly because I felt like I'd been hit by an emotional wrecking ball every time I read that series (in a good, scary, incredibly tragic, tearful way).

Stephanie Allen said...

I reread the books I really like, because I notice new things each time and just because I'm so in love with the characters I really don't want to let them go. There are also cases where I've read a book, but it went over my head, and it was only in rereading it that I was able to understand it better (such as Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights - I read them both when I was 15 and they went completely over my head.)

Donna Hosie said...

Good heavens, I can't imagine NOT re-reading!

Some favourites get pulled out every year: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Jane Eyre, Shadow of the Wind - because I love getting lost in the world those fabulous writers created. I love reading new books because I know some of them will become perennial favourites.

Each to their own, but would you listen to a piece of music just the once, even if you loved it? Art is forever.

SM Johnston said...

There are some books I reread. Jane Austen, a couple of the Bronte sisters' work, JK Rowlings, Charlaine Harris.

With Wuthering Heights, it's important to remember it's not really a love story. It's a story of revenge and loss. But it's still not a favorite for me.

Ryan Stuart Lowe said...

I'll reread books, but only if they stick in my head for a long time after I've read them -- after such a long time that I've forgotten most things about the novel except for its "feel."

As of right now, that's mostly the books I read as a kid, but I'm sure that I'll return to some of the books I'm reading now 15 years hence.

Mary said...

I go through periods of re-reading. Usually because I want to reconnect with characters or story lines I really enjoyed.

I've tried re-reading to learn how an author did something, but find I get caught up in the story and forget to watch for what I meant to.

Katy said...

Can I just say how glad I am that you are an agent who rereads (again and again!) client manuscripts? So much dedication!

I'm not a rereader either, for the same reasons as you. Occasionally if I really love a particular scene or chapter, I'll go back for another look, but for the most part I like to let stories live on as they were in my first impression.

I feel the same way about movies, with the exception of Wedding Crashers, The Notebook, and Dirty Dancing--I'll watch those anytime they're on TV. :)

Lydia said...

Re-reader because my books are my dear old friends...and it would be wrong not to enjoy their company again and again; purely for the pleasure it brings.

Martha Ramirez said...

This is interesting because I find that I am not a re-reader. I think I would like to be but for some reason I'm the same way with movies. I'll buy the ones I love but very seldom do I watch it again. However, if it's on at home and it sucks me in, then I'll get hooked once again.
I think it's like you said, it gives you a different experience. There are so many books and movies out there, I always want to find a new story to get caught up in.
But I do have to say there are some I would LOVE to re-read. Thirteen Reasons Why is def on top of the list. Have you read it? Or done a blog post on Jay Asher's 13 Reasons Why? I can't remember. If not. You need too! :) Such an amazing story. I can totally see you immersed in it.

Joyce said...

I am a major re-reader. I figure this has to do with my obsessive personality. I will listen to the same song over and over for months. In the same way, when I read a new book, if it is any good at all, I will usually re-read it many times-sometimes right after I'm done! Case in point, the Hunger Games trilogy I re-read I think, 4 times? Over a week? Once I was done with book 3 I went back to book 1. It's purely for pleasure. I do skip over parts that I didn't like as much (usually skipping over the really tense parts to get to the parts where the character finally gets what they want for the moment). I know, I'm a strange one. :)

Shell Flower said...

There are certain books that I re-read regularly, mostly because they inspire me to write. I love Doris Lessing's Mara and Dann and the sequel. I have also re-read Marge Piercy's Gone to Soldiers and Starhawk's The Fifth Sacred Thing several times. These are my top re-read books and it is because I love the characters so much it's like they are my friends and if I want to hang w/them, I gotta read the books.

I have yet to read Wuthering Heights, but I hated Jane Eyre and I feel weird for that since so many folks just love it. Mr. Rochester was such a jerk, IMO. I just don't get the attraction. *shields self for backlash about to hit*

Delia said...

I reread books much like I re-watch movies. Which is to say, I only give the really entertaining ones a second go. The more serious ones rarely get reread, but the action-packed or sexy or fun (and yes, Harry Potter) can be read and enjoyed in a relatively short sitting, so I do.

As for Wuthering Heights, it's one of the few books I could not force myself to read. And this is from a person who read Atlas Shrugged voluntarily, including that horrendous, fifty-page radio address. Honestly, most Victorian era literature eludes me. I mean, I understand it, I just don't see the draw.

Shannon L Reagan said...

I reread favorites when I have nothing else to read. I reread previous books in a series when a new one comes out. Recently I reread favorites in the genre of my current novel because of some criticism from a judge in a literary contest that didn't make sense to me. Rereading those books made it clear to me that I was still on track based on the genre. Being a mother I have been prone to rereading when my children are babies and little because if I got distracted or had to put it down I didn't loose out on part of the story but still got to read something. I guess I am a rereader but I love my new goal to read one new thing a month for the next year. Writers must be readers after all!

Mesmer7 said...

I very rarely reread books...which is odd because I frequently rewatch TV shows that I've enjoyed.

Candie Leigh said...

I re-read because it feels like I'm visiting an old friend, but sometimes I skip to the "good-parts." Which actually says a lot about the informative pages, because I've remembered the mounds of details from a previous read and don't need to re-read them in order to enjoy the story again.

Kristina said...

I will re-read only occasionally to study craft, but not for enjoyment.

Exceptions are Jane Eyre (which I read every few years because I love it) and I've also re-read Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, because of the beauty and cleverness of the prose. I never tire of it!

spajonas said...

I think I might have commented on your Ella Enchanted post about this but the reason I'm a re-reader is my poor memory! I will re-read something a dozen times before I remember all the little plot points and then won't have to read it again.

It's strange that, for books, it takes several re-readings before I really remember it, but sometimes I can hear a song once and remember all the words right away. The brain is a mysterious thing.

I'm currently re-reading "The Hunger Games" for the third time and loving it all over again. Curse my brain! I wish I could keep it all straight sometimes :)

mfantaliswrites said...

I was a re-reader as a child because of the familiarity and comfort. Reading was my escape and it was so wonderful to escape back to places and people that I loved. As an adult, there are so many new places I want to go and people I want to meet (in books), I don't have as much time to re-read but I still do with certain favorites.

I love all the Wuthering Heights/Jane Eyre discussion! I'd love for you all to comment on my Heathcliff vs. Rochester blog post: http://mfantaliswrites.wordpress.com/2011/04/04/heathcliff-or-rochester/

sarahjoyliteraryagent said...

I generally avoid rereading, unless it's a childhood favorite, i.e. To Kill a Mockingbird. I also don't watch movies more than once. I think it's because I have ADD. Why see/read something more than once when there are 12 million other things to do in the world?

Sarah Joy, an associate agent-in-training.

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