Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Is Once Enough?

I generally don’t read books more than once. Gone With The Wind was an exception as well as a few of Jane Austen’s and William Faulkner’s novels, mainly because teachers chose them over the years. Oh, and sometimes I pick books at the library more than once, but that’s a whole different issue: failing memory. I know I read one book in college twice; in fact, paid for it twice. It was book of poetry—-a thick, expensive one—-and I don’t ever want to discuss Ode On A Grecian Urn again.

I did re-read the first Harry Potter book to my son. As expected, he loved it. Then I put my husband in charge of reading the next three books in the series to him. After that time, he was ready to finish the series on his own.

It’s not that all the books aren’t wonderful in their own way. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy them—-except the poetry. It’s just with so many books out there and a limited amount of time, I can’t see reading one twice.

I know others see it differently. Some people read and dissect to learn how to write better. Some people read for inspiration. Some people just love one author and can’t get enough.

So, I’m curious. Do you often read a book more than once? Or do you have a select few favorites you return to over and over? Or are you like me, always looking for a new story?

14 comments:

Joe Moore said...

Lisa, your point about having a limited amount of time to read is a big factor for me in rereading a book. The last novel I returned to and reread was Chuck Hogan's 1995 thriller THE STANDOFF. I read it back then and picked it up again about a year ago. Why? Because it's nothing short of outstanding in every respect; plot, characters, and dialog.

Two others are on my reread list: RED DRAGON by Thomas Harris, perhaps the scariest book ever published, and Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. That one I reread in college. I couldn't devote enough time to reread it today.

One additional note about writers finding time to read--since I got my Kindle at Christmas, I've read more books than I did in all of last year. I download a dozen samples a week, whip through them, and usually buy one or two. The Kindle has changed the way I read.

Lois Winston said...

It's been years and years since I've reread a book. I have a stack of books waiting to be read, and that stack grows weekly. I thought about not buying an iPad until I'd whittled down that stack, but I'd probably be in my dotage by then! Haven't bought the iPad yet, though not from trying. Makes me wish I owned lots of Apple stock!

Anyway, back to books I've read more than once. Other than mandatory classroom reads, there are only two -- THE SOUND AND THE FURY and A TALE OF TWO CITIES. I'd read them both again if I only had the time.There are also plenty of books I'd like to read again but probably will never get around to them.

Beth Groundwater said...

I usually don't read a book, or watch a movie, more than once. There's so many good stories out there that I'd rather read something new.

Keith Raffel said...

Good question, Lisa. My most recent completed manuscript is historical fiction set in the last century. So I re-read The Winds of War by Herman Wouk to see how he handled things. Wasn't as good as I remembered but still a good read. And I re-read my junior high favorite, Exodus by Leon Uris, on a trip to Israel a couple of years ago. That book seems melodramatic now, but it was awfully fun reading it while right there where it was set.

Darrell James said...

I mostly don't re-read books. When I was just beginning to write, I would read and re-read Elmore Leonard to dissect and learn from them. Occasionally, I go back to one of his to relive the story. I just like the sound of his voice on the page.

Deborah Sharp said...

Hey, Lisa .... I rarely read a book a second time, in fact sometimes I don't even finish them the first time. Too many competing demands on time, plus I hate the been-there-done-that aspect of re-reading. The same with movies. If I've seen it, don't want to re-see it.

Alan Orloff said...

I don't usually reread books--too many good ones, not enough time. However, I have reread many of the Spenser books and like Joe, I've reread RED DRAGON and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. But not HANNIBAL--I should never have read that one the first time!

Kathleen Ernst said...

I usually don't re-read books, for all the reasons listed. However, I do have some favorites that are so well crafted that I return to them when I need to see how a master handles language, setting, etc.

I've tried to return to some books I loved as a child or teen, and usually wish I hadn't.

Mark said...

If time were no object, I would love to reread. I love to spend time with old friends again. It's one reason I rewatch movies. I may know how it ends, but if I love the characters, time spent in their company is like time spent with old friends.

However, I seem to have less and less time to read, so I seem to have less and less time to reread. I have books calling out to me to reread, but I have a large stack of books I am dying to tackle for the first time. And those usually win the day.

G.M. Malliet said...

I've reread most of the Agatha Christies except for her Tommy and Tuppence and her other thriller-type books.

Lisa Bork said...

Thanks for your comments, all! Very interesting.

A few of you mentioned movies. I will watch movies more than once - I'll watch Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility any time. She deserved the award for best adapted screenplay.

Julia Buckley said...

It's true that there are millions of books out there; yet I do return to favorites because some things are so well-written that every visit to those sentences, those paragraphs, is a pleasure.

It's not like I've only eaten ice cream once, and that's how I feel about going back to great books. They are an indulgence and a joy.

Alice Loweecey said...

I have a reread list bigger than my TBR pile. I love finding new authors (my current favorite is CS Harris and her Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries). But I love just as much going back to a well-loved book and slipping into its familiar world. Patricia Wentworth and Georgette Heyer's mysteries are on the top of my reread list--after HP Lovecraft, of course!

When an author's characters speak to me--and when I know I can learn from the author's craft--I will often reread a book several times.

Vicki Doudera said...

A book can have a different effect on a reader depending on that reader's stage in his or her journey. My book club just finished "Tinkers," a Pulitzer-Prize winning novel chronicling the death of a man. Many of us were lukewarm about it, but one woman whose father just died found it totally resonated with her. Perhaps if I reread it at a different stage of my life, I would have a totally different experience.