“I don’t have time for re-reads.”

on re-reading books

I’ve been re-reading many books the past few years, but never as much as this year. I’ve re-read a total of 40 books by now, which is more than a third of all the books I read. And while I almost always share my current reads on Instagram, I often come across people telling me things like “I wish I had time to re-read too”. Oh, man, that’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told.

Why you DO have time for re-reads

It’s obviously not even close to what’s really being published, but Goodreads features 200 books every single month. And that’s only the top releases. That’s more than 4 times what the average person pledged to read over the whole year in the Goodreads reading challenge. Even if you filter those lists and reduce it to what you’re actually interest in, there are still more books published each year, than you’ll be able to make time for (not even talking about backlist titles you might also want to read).

With every book you read you make a choice

Reading a specific book is always a choice. You choose to read that specific book over another and it has nothing to do with how much time you have on your hand, just want to you WANT to read. You choose to read that new book instead of re-reading an old favorite, making only time for that new book, not for an old favorite. 

“But I have all these ARCs to read” you might say. Even that is a choice though. As long as it’s not actually your job (and nope, blogging isn’t), you don’t HAVE to read those review copies, you choose to.

If you choose not to re-read, that’s fine. Read whatever you want. Don’t say it’s because you don’t have time though. If you have time to read a book, you have time to re-read a book.

Why you should re-read

I totally get that new books always seem more appealing than re-reading what you already know. I only started re-reading myself a few years ago. If you don’t re-read at all, let me tell you something: YOU ARE MISSING OUT.

There is a 99.9% chance you missed or forgot something

We don’t read fiction like we would a text book, not making sure to catch every single detail. Those small little details you miss or forget about might not be important at all, but when you re-read, there is nothing as much fun as (re)discovering something you missed/forgot. It’s not the same feeling as reading plot twists for the first time, but it’s definitely an equally good feeling. (and I even forgot about big plot twists before and was just as shocked as during my first read, so there is that)

Foreshadowing

You might often read a book and have moments like “oh hey! that’s been hinted at earlier” but let me tell you, you don’t know the half of it. When you actually re-read a book and have all the facts, you realize there is often way more foreshadowing than you thought.

And that’s just your “average” book. There are books out there that are made for re-reads, books that go crazy with the foreshadowing in the best possible way and throw facts right into your face and you don’t even realize it, books you can re-read five times and you’ll still discover more. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater is the best example for that.

If it’s not worth re-reading, it’s not a good book

Even if you don’t do re-reads, if you don’t at least think that it is worth re-reading, then, in my opinion, it’s not a good book.

A book should never just be about the end, about how exiting the conclusion/answers are. A book’s job isn’t just about suprising you all the time, shocking you with new revelations. A predictable book isn’t necessarily a bad one. Getting to the end/answers should be the thrilling part too, how you get there, what impact it has on the characters, seeing them grow during the process. That it something that doesn’t get boring, even if you know where you’re heading.

Knowing all there is to know should never worsen your reading experience, just make it a different one (that’s not to say that spoilers aren’t bad, everyone should still be able to have both experiences!), and that’s what re-reading is going to give you.

Do you re-read books too? What are your reasons to (not) do it?

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  • One of the biggest reasons I would shy away from re-reading books, was that I set myself quite the ambitious GoodReads Challenge – and re-reads don’t typically count for that.
    Lately, though, I’ve just taken to “cheating the system” – just say you read a different edition and it does count for your reading challenge. That’s quite the good thing, for me, because at least half of the books I read are re-reads – hey, I read for relaxation, and sometimes that just means you need to go back to a story you love!

  • If I read the book in english version then when the Indonesian version come out, I read it, too does it count as re-reads? because that’s I have been doing lately..
    I do re-read but only my 5 stars books :D re-read made me realize things I don’t recognize before.. :D

  • Ha, that’s interesting! I agree with you – “no time for re-reads” shouldn’t be a thing. If you want to re-read, you do it.
    I don’t often read books again – the only books I re-read during the last (probably) 10 years, are
    – my favourite books from my childhood because I wanted to see how I liked them as an adult.
    – the first books of my favourite fantasy series (a song of ice and fire & the malazan book of the fallen), because they are THAT awesome and I needed to read them again :)
    There are a lot of books that I loved during the last years and I am sure I will read them again after a while. When I want to. Not when I have time ;-) Because I always have time to read. Or re-read.

  • Ich sag selbst immer allzu gerne das ich keine Zeit habe Rereads zu machen >.< dein Post hat aber gut rüber gebracht, das es einfach eine Sache der Prioritäten ist. Werde deswegen einfach auch mal alle Gedanken beiseite schrieben und einfach ein Buch wieder zur Hand nehmen, dass ich schon gelesen habe, denn du hast Recht. Es sind Bücher auf die wir uns einfach immer verlassen können. Ich bestimmt auch eine gute Therapie bei einem Reading-Slump

  • YES, thank you. It drives me crazy when people say they don’t have time to re-read or, even worse, they don’t have time to read at all. It’s all about priorities! I choose to spend my free time reading; other people choose to spend their free time differently. But I wish people would realize that they’re making that choice not to read or re-read and stop blaming it on a lack of time. I also agree that re-readability is the mark of a really good book.

    I think you already know all the reasons I love to reread. I’m so glad you became a re-reader too. :D

  • I’ve only reread 8 books in my entire life which is quite sad! I’d love to reread more but I suppose I make the choice to read books I haven’t read yet! :) Life is short and although I love delving back into old favourites, I also don’t want to spend too much time going on adventures I’ve already been on when there’s so many I haven’t yet experienced! I think it’s awesome that you reread so much though – I think I might just start rereading more! :)

  • Ugh I hate when people are like “oh I wish I had time for [insert just about anything here]” because it can be so demeaning!! People say that to me about reading in general. But like we all have time to do stuff! It just spends on what you spend your free time doing. *nods* And that definitely goes for what you WANT to read too. I get swamped with ARCs and library books and complain I “don’t have time” but it’s still my choice.😂 Even if I regret it haha.

    And I agree that re-reading is GREAT. I never used to re-read, but I’ve re-read about 5 books this year!? IT IS THE BEST. For 3 of those books I’ve upped the star ratings to 5-stars!! It’s like I appreciated more about the book the second time round. <3

    Although I don't agree that a book can only be good if it's worth re-reading. :) There are tons of books I definitely enjoyed but I don't feel like re-reading them! I love Percy Jackson soooo much but there is exactly 0% of me that wants to reread them.

    OMG BUT I LOVE THAT THE RAVEN CYCLE GETS BETTER WITH EACH RE-READ OMG. I've read them all twice now but I so plan to make it like a yearly marathon.😍😍

  • I am guilty of saying I don’t have time to reread. It’s not that I don’t want to but I buy all these books and I need to read those so I end up putting off rereading books. I also think it’s that I’m scared I won’t enjoy the book as much second time around. I always find my rereading reading pace is a bit slower than when I’m reading a new book because I know what to expect so I’m not gripped in the same way. I worry that I will then find I don’t enjoy it as much either.

    I do agree, we should stopping lying to ourselves and just reread more if we want to. You can make time for anything if you’re motivated enough so maybe some people are just not motivated enough.

  • I just don’t usually have the time to reread and I hate it. There are so many books that I love enough to reread them, but I just don’t. But lately, I have been trying to reread at least two or three books out of the year. It can be great to rediscover what it was about that book I loved so much. I need to reread more often!

  • As a kid, I re-read CONSTANTLY. All of my childhood favorites are books I read ten times or more.

    As an adult, I’m just not as interested in re-reading books. The exception is when I read books to my classes. Sometimes I’ve read the same book during multiple years, and sometimes I’ve read one book to multiple classes at once. In both cases, I find so much more in the book by doing that. It also slows me way down, which is another thing that helps me notice all those details, the foreshadowing, the themes and symbols, etc.

    You make some really good points here. I don’t know that I’ll start re-reading, but I’ll be careful to not claim it’s a lack of time that is driving that!

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