To read again, and again

I’d had the idea of discussing the re-reading of books for some time. Then someone opened a real can of worms on the Guardian blog on that very subject, so I’m not sure it’s ok any longer. Hundreds of people with opinions.

Do you have time to re-read books in this day and age? I’m trying to work out if it’s the same for everyone, or if it’s just that I’m no longer a child.

I used to re-read books a lot. If I liked them. If I had nothing else to read. If I had nothing better to do.

Now, I hardly ever do. There are far more books available now. And less time. But is it a sign of the times that I have less time, or simply that at fifty (ok, fiftyone) I’m too busy doing other things?

One way of “re-reading” has been to listen to books on cassette while doing the ironing. But I hardly ever do that now, either. The listening, not the ironing.

What do others do? Do you have a book that you keep returning to?

My wishlist is long, but the only book I’ve re-read recently is How I Live Now. The last time in translation, to see how that felt.

My piano tuner revealed that he was reading Dr Johnson, again. I don’t expect I’ll ever get there.

5 responses to “To read again, and again

  1. It’s writing and re-reading that seem inseparable to me: I wouldn’t feel comfortable writing at length about a book I’d read only once.

    Of re-reading with no idea of writing–I can think of one novel that I must have read half dozen times in a few months simply because it was all that made sense to me as I picked up the pieces after a romance shattered messily and abruptly: A Word Child by Iris Murdoch.

    Someday perhaps I’ll return to it, to see why it gave solace then–but I’m a bit uneasy about that–maybe it won’t resonate at all, maybe it will feel like trying to play a 45 rpm at 33 1/3…

  2. I found my way to your great blog though your Aspie book article on the Guardian blog (I have an aspie son and strong Aspie tendencies myself).

    I am doing a lot of re-reading at the moment. A lot of it is children’s lit, which kind of makes sense as my kids are 3-8yo and my oldest reads at an age of 15+ so I am doing reconnaissance of a sort to make sure content is ok before I recommend book to him. I but I have also revisited a bit of non-fiction. I am probably not reading as many new books as others,but letting them be sifted a little by time may not be a bad thing.

    Oh – and I do less ironing than listening *chuckle*

  3. Blerk – having fun with my keyboard today – that should have read:

    I read a lot of fiction but lately I have also revisited a bit of non-fiction….

    gremlins, gremlins, all around.

    Have a good weekend 🙂

  4. I’m with Laurie. I usually read everything I read at least twice, often more. Otherwise, I feel it’s just consuming.

  5. I tend to re-read when I’m ill. At such times I often don’t have the energy to give to a new novel and so return to old friends whom I know will see me through the difficult time.

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