Sunday 13 February 2011

Re-reading Books (Dracula by Bram Stoker)

When I was younger, I would often repeatedly re-read books that I had enjoyed the first time round.  I've read Little Women countless times, and the same goes for The Secret Garden and adult books like Gone With the Wind and The White Family.  I didn't feel any guilt in it either - if I felt like reading a particular book again, I just read it and enjoyed it.

But now, especially since I started this blog, I feel guilty about re-reading.  I feel like there are so many books and so little time, so that re-reading is 'wasted' time.  I'm more conscious of how many books I'm reading too, and of how long each book takes to read. I get so many good recommendations from other blogs that my wishlist is very long and I feel like I should crack on with that rather than re-read.  And I have lots of unread books on my shelves, which again make me feel guilty about reading an old favourite.

But I've resolved to re-read more, and to make reading just about enjoyment again, rather than putting pressure on myself over what to read or how long it takes.  In the past I've often enjoyed a book more the second time round and I want to go back to that kind of enjoyment and simply read what I want to read, when I want to read it.  Besides, I'm never going to be able to read all of the books I want to read, as more get published all of the time.

With that in mind, this weekend I re-read Dracula by Bram Stoker.  I'm sure everyone knows the plot, and I've blogged before about how much I love this book, so I'm just going to focus on the re-reading experience.  For despite this being in my top ten list of favourite books, I've only read it once.

And it was definitely much improved on the re-read.  I noticed details I hadn't noticed before, and was more free to savour the descriptions of the Eastern European countryside, as I wasn't so worried about what would happen to the characters.  I was surprised by how much of the details I had forgotten, and I had also forgotten how much I enjoyed the narrative style of the diaries, letters and telegrams.  Definitely not reading time wasted!

How about you?  Do you re-read or do you feel guilty about it?  Is it worth re-reading favourite books?


  1. I am an awful re-reader! My to-read list grows and grows yet I return to the same books over and over again.
    Speaking of which I should really re-read Dracula too. I had to read it for my degree last year and the forced time scale in which I had to read it pretty much meant I didn't enjoy it at all. I'm pretty sure I would enjoy it if I read it at my leisure!

  2. I'm always interested to read thoughts on older books, and those that are re-reads. I've actually never read Dracula, so you've piqued my interest. I also feel guilty about re-reading, and I don't do it often, but sometimes I just need to. I just posted my thoughts on "Ender's Game" this week - a book I re-read after over 20 years and still enjoyed very much.

  3. this post is exactly how i feel about re-reading. i had more time to do so when i didn't think i had any time at all! :) my husband just read dracula for the first time and loved it and it's making me yearn to read it again as a grown-up, because i haven't read it since i was 14ish...i wonder what i would get now, that i didn't get then...and, now because of your post, i'm going to put it on my list to read this year! thanks! :)

  4. I wrote a whole post in defense of rereading a few months ago, so posts like this make me very happy. Rereading was something I lost when I began blogging and I'm working to bring it back into my life!

  5. I love to re read. Its generally a classic that gets re read but it does happen often. Thanks for following me. I am now following you as well.

  6. @Bethan - But I think it's a good thing to return to the same books over and over again, like comfort reading. Which ones do you turn too? It's a shame you didn't enjoy Dracula. I read Frankenstein for my A-Level and since haven't been able to enjoy it.

    @Annette - I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels guilty for rereading. You should definitely try Dracula though, it's a great read.

    @Stephanie - Hope you enjoy Dracula when you get around to reading it. I'm glad your hubbie liked it, it's a great book!

    @Amanda - I feel exactly the same way. I'm trying to reread about one thing a month, to gradually reintroduce it and train myself out of feeling guilty for it.

    @Mystica - Hopefully I can start to enjoy rereading too. Thanks for following back :)

  7. I've reread Kafka on the Shore by Murakami 5-6 times, Ham on Rye by Bukowski likewise!
    :D x

  8. No more guilt!! My reading philosophy is 'anything goes'. Dracula is indeed a fabulous book and well worthy of a reread.

  9. I love re-reading, and you hit the nail on the head when you said that not concentrating so much on the plot frees you to appreciate the nuances of the writing. As someone who can go off into reverie at any moment at one exquisite sentence, I certainly subscribe to that.

  10. I do quite a lot of re-reading, and I do sometimes feel bad about it. So many books,so little time etc... And I agree -since i've been blogging there are so many recommendations, my tbr list is impossibly long! But sometimes a nice comfortable re-read is really uplifting and just what I need!

  11. Hooray for re-reading!! You already know my thoughts on rereading since we've discussed it before-- so I just want to say: Good for you!!

    Reading isn't a competition-- it is a joy and rereading is good for the soul!!


  12. I know exactly what you mean! I've not re-read anything since starting my blog and I miss some of the comfort of reading a beloved book. My TBR pile keeps growing and the number of new books on my wishlist just gets longer and longer each week so I do feel guilty about picking up a book I've already read - but I know I shouldn't!

    On another note - I adore Dracula and am planning on re-reading it this year as well - my excuse is getting it on kindle as well as the paper version! :)

  13. I was the same as you in regards to rereading - why go back over what has been read when there is so much new out there to be read.

    Since I have been blogging though I have thought more about rereading. That is why I went back to Enid Blyton and also going back to Roald Dahl. SO not only am I rereading I am rereading children's books!!

    I think rereading is like therapy sometimes we need to go back to what we know and seek comfort from it whether it be a romance or a thriller.

  14. I loved Dracula, so this is definitely one that I think I should re-read again. For a wonderful classic, I think it's fabulous to read them over and over - as you experienced, you end up finding new things that you may not have noticed before :)

  15. I love this. I prefer rereading to reading, I think. The second (and third) pass offers so much more. Somebody should host a reread week. :-)

  16. This is an inspiring post. Rereading seems like such a luxury when there are so many books I still want to read. But I also used to reread favorite books when I was younger. My kids read books over and over, and I'm so envious of them! Why not reread a book I want to savor again?

  17. I reread loads and never feel guilty about it - quite the contrary! As you say, you notice more details and you can take it slow because you already know what's going to happen.
    Once in a while it's nice to just relax with a good old favourite rather than always rushing through something new

  18. I have received the Stylish blogger award: from The Owl Bookmark and am passing it on to you. Thank-you! :)

  19. @Bex - I think you hit the nail on the head with the 'nice comfy reread' comment. Sometimes I just want to settle back with an old friend and not feel guilty about it!

    @Lesa - You're right about reading not being a competition, which is why I don't enter any challenges or set myself a goal to read a specific amount of books a year. Blogging does make it hard to read truly for yourself though.

    @Coffee and a Book Chick - I also think rereading trash can be a good thing. Sometimes it's good to have a bit of a brain break!

    @Jillian - I'm definitely going to be rereading more now I've rediscovered how much I enjoy it.

    @Susan - There's nothing wrong with a bit of luxury every now and again!

    @Noiashui - I'm definitely going to try and be a bit more like this with my reading. Reading should always be about enjoyment first.

  20. Re-reading is something I enjoyed as a kid (also exhausting every book of a fave series) but with such a huge TBR list, I've also neglected re-reading favourites. Maybe it's a good idea to revisit a fave book when you feel in a reading rut, to renew your sense of literary greatness. Great discussion, Sam!

  21. I think it's really interesting to re-read books at different stages in your life. You may like a book in high school, for example, but it will probably speak to you in a very different way after college. Your life experiences can have such a huge influence on your feelings about a book.

    I also feel guilty when I re-read sometimes. There are just so many good books out there! Now you've put me in the mood to re-read Dracula.

  22. I thought I'd respond with a few quotes first:

    If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. ~ Oscar Wilde

    The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones. ~ Joseph Joubert

    It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. ~ C.S. Lewis

    I have mixed feelings about re-reading books. I feel the same way as you - my TBR pile seems almost infinite, but there are so many books which I recommend to all of my friends which are my "favourites". I'm ashamed to say some of these I've only read once.

    Well, my goal is to get through some of the essential fantasy series, then I'll be at liberty to start re-reading.