Reading Miriam’s post the other day, I was totally delighted by all the great/bad books. I’m not sure I can make a top five list, because I’m incredibly contrary and like to overthink lists before I commit to them, but Moby Dick, Jane Eyre, and the collected works of Charles Dickens (sorry, Jim!) and John Steinbeck (sorry, Rachel!) would at least be in my top 25.
The thing that struck me most, though, was several of you mentioned reading these books multiple times. I particularly loved that Kerry went back to a book she hated the first time, which I can’t even imagine. I just can’t do it, myself. With very few exceptions (the odd children’s book I don’t remember well; Gatsby once to try to understand a reference to it that still makes no sense), the only books I re-read are manuscripts I’m editing. Even when I love the books, I find re-reading has none of the enjoyment for me that reading for the first time does. I find it near impossible to focus, knowing what’s coming next. (It’s probably for the best that I never became a copyeditor, for that and other reasons.)
The idea doesn’t bother me: On the one hand, there are so many books to read, it seems a waste to read one of them multiple times. On the other hand, you’re never going to read them all anyway, so what’s the harm? I just can’t actually do it in practice.
Anyone else? Re-readers, tell me, why? Do you easily read every word, have no objection to skimming, or struggle with the impulse? And is there a certain kind of book you find re-readable when others aren’t? A thriller doesn’t sound like much fun the second time. Enlighten me below!