When you purchase through links on this site, I may earn an affiliate commision.

A few years ago, as I was sitting around a dinner table discussing hobbies with with a group of newish friends, my love of reading inevitably entered into the conversation. After I’d waxed poetic about the wonders of the reading life, a woman at the table (a self-described non-reader) asked me to name my favorite book.

As all readers know, this is an impossible question, the clichéd-but-true equivalent of being asked to choose a favorite child. When I couldn’t name a favorite, my inquisitive friend tossed out an alternate question: which books had I reread the most?

My answer surprised everyone at the table: “None of them,” I responded. “I don’t really reread books.”

I suppose it might seem strange that someone who adores reading—consuming between one and two hundred books a year—would not be a rereader. After all, there are many valid reasons for rereading books! When reading a book for a second (or third or fourth) time, the focus is no longer on discovering what will happen next, thus creating space for deeper analysis; a subsequent read will inevitably bring new perspective to characters and plot points that were overlooked on first reading.

Another popular motivation for rereading is the comfort factor: many rereaders find that settling in with a favorite book is like spending time with an old friend. I personally know many readers whose year would not be complete if they did not revisit a favorite title or two. A pastor at our last church kicks of each new year with a reread through all seven books of the Harry Potter series! Others have a certain devotional they read through every year, or a holiday read that makes an appearance every December.

Of course, we as individuals are always changing; a book itself remains stagnant, but we bring different versions of ourselves to each reading. Thus, rereading is not an exact repeat of a previous experience, but a new journey through familiar terrain. Some may find this dull; others are energized by opportunities presented in this blend of familiarity and fresh outlook.

Despite knowing and appreciating the many benefits to rereading, I also have many (what I believe are) valid reasons for choosing not to reread. The biggest reason is that there are simply too many books I want to read, and taking time to revisit old books cuts down on the number of new books I get to explore. I also find that I have a hard time staying engaged in a book when I know what will happen; a reread is (usually) just not all that interesting to me.

Another major motivator behind choosing not to reread is the potential to have my mind changed about a book. I generally refrain from rereading 5-star books because I fear a book will not measure up to my original glowing impressions, and I can’t bear the thought of being disappointed by a title I once loved. I would rather preserve those initial positive impressions than risk having them tainted. Of course this still leaves all the lesser-loved books open for a reread, and I wouldn’t mind having my mind changed about a book I disliked on first reading; but it seems foolish to set myself up for a repeat negative experience, so I tend to let my first impressions of those books stand as well.

I do make some exceptions to my no-rereading rule. I read through the whole Bible each year and am thankful that the Lord continues to reveal Himself to me in fresh ways through His living, breathing Word. In a similar vein, I have reread a handful of nonfiction titles, mostly for informational purposes; I’m less sentimental about my nonfiction, so the fear of having an altered impression of these nonfiction books is not as big. And when rereading nonfiction, I’m returning to the material for the sake of learning or relearning something new, so boredom or lack of surprise are not rereading stumbling blocks with this genre.

I’ve also reread quite a few Middle Grade novels, either with different groups of students or with my own kids. To me, this is an entirely different type of rereading as I’m bringing new readers into the experience; I enjoy seeing the book through their eyes, and since most of those books are ones I haven’t read since childhood, my adult impressions are vastly different. Sadly, not all of my childhood favorites have lived up to my memories of them, and this has been heartbreaking, but a number of books have been just as good (if not better) upon rereading, and I’ve experienced the joys of nostalgia AND (re)discovering a favorite story.

There is much about my reading life that has changed throughout the years, and my stance on rereading could be a change that is ahead for me. As of now, I am comfortable with my status as someone who rarely rereads books. I respect those who happily reread favorite titles, but for now that simply isn’t a choice I’m making for my own reading.

Reader friends, I’m curious about you and your reading habits: do you reread books? If so, how do you choose what to reread and when you will revisit a book? Is there a system to your rereading? If you, like me, tend to avoid rereading, what keeps you from picking up a book for a second time? Do you have reasons that are different from mine? I can’t wait to hear your responses!

Get In Touch