Reading a Book Twice: Fun, Healthy or Just a Waste of Time

I’ve just started reading The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho for the second time. This book is on my top-five best-reads list. When I recommended the book to a friend, he asked me what happens and I couldn’t answer him. I know precisely what I felt and learned when reading it, but I’m fuzzy on the details.

Time to read it again, I thought. I wonder if it will make as big an impact on me as it did the first time I read it 12 years ago. I’m a bit worried I am going to be disappointed.

The fear of disappointment is one of the reasons I don’t re-read books often. Also, my must-read list is so long, I feel that I should spend my precious reading time reading something new.

But according to researchers, there are health benefits to re-reading a book (or watching a movie several times).

“The habit of watching films or rereading books multiple times encourages people to engage with them emotionally,” writes the Daily Mail. “The first time people read – or watch – through, they are focused on events and stories. The second time through, the repeated experience reignites the emotions caused by the book or film, and allows people to savour those emotions at leisure.”

“By enjoying the emotional effects of the book more deeply, people become more in touch with themselves.”

So no need to feel guilty about spending time rereading (or watching ‘Pride and Prejudice’ again), let’s just hope that I’ll have that wow factor – the enlightenment experience I had the first time.

Vanessa

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13 thoughts on “Reading a Book Twice: Fun, Healthy or Just a Waste of Time

  1. I’ve reread books that I read as an adult and they had the same wow factor. I’m afraid to go back to anything I read when I was a teen for fear that it was a one time experience and knowing what I know now, it won’t be as good and then it will taint the original memory.

  2. So interesting, V.! I happen to go through this dilemma all the time. I’m the kind of person who has a few books started at the same time. Usually of different genres – historical, fiction, even poetry collections, philosophical, etc. And I do love to return to some of the titles repeatedly oftentimes. One of those if the Lord of the Rings.” I really love the atmosphere, the emotions, but also I’m on the same wavelength with Samir – I fell in love with Tolkien’s style of writing.
    So stop worrying and simply enjoy the book for the second time. Let me take a wild shot here – you will not be disappointed, but will discover new aspects… 🙂
    (Don’t take me seriously…) 😀

  3. There are a couple of books that I read every year. One is a Jane Austen, another is the Hobbit and another is at this time of year by a little known author by the name of Charles Dickens. The last is a book that changed my life. I don’t want to add to this list though.

  4. I love rereading books, although I do share your concern than there are so many other books I want to read that I’m wasting my time. But I find the best books are the ones that are subtle and have many layers. You can’t possibly absorb everything the book has to offer in one read-through, so it’s essential to go back, or you miss out. Other than that, when a book is really enjoyable, I want that feeling again, as you mentioned, so for me, while there aren’t many books I will read more than once, there are a few books I’ve read 10-20 times and will still read again.

  5. Interesting post which gave me pause to remember a few of my favorite books. I rarely, if ever, reread a book bcz my TBR pile is overflowing and there’s just so many hours in the day. Rereading seems like a waste of time to me. But now I’m thinking it might be worthwhile on a deeper level. Thanks for a great post!

  6. I have the same problem when friends ask me about a book I recommend – the details are fuzzy (ending? hmm) but the emotional impact is strong. I’ve discovered when I reread those books I love so much, the emotional impact actually gets stronger and the details fuzzier… go figure! But I do enjoy the rereads more because I fall in love with the language and style each time while no longer focusing on the plot.

  7. Rereads are essential. I reread To Kill a Mockingbird at least once a year. I tend to blur the book with the movie and don’t want to mess up when teaching it to my students. Although I will have to say, it takes a pretty special book for me to go back and reread it.

  8. Great post. As a storyteller, I am amazed when people want to hear the same story again and again. Some people hear something new each time they step into the river. But there is that emotional connection, and/or a lesson that needs to be learned by heart, and that sometimes takes more than one reading.

  9. I have been re-reading a lot of books lately, particularly books that I read when I was very young (adolescent, teen, college). With an additional 20 years of life experience, I see the book through a different lens. I learn a lot about myself through re-reading at different stages of my life. In some cases, I’m re-reading books that I didn’t really like the first time to see if I have a different impression now. Sometimes, I’m re-reading them with my writer’s eyes instead of my reader’s eyes.

  10. Nice post Vanessa. The emotional connection is why I re-read or experience something again. It’s nice every once in a while to know you can pick up something that will allow you to feel good, without having to take a gamble on the quality of the content. I have a huge reading list myself but would not expect myself to go through it all without treating myself from time to time to the comfort of reading/listening/seeing something I have appreciated in the past, which then enhances my mood and makes me more receptive for new things in the future going forward.

    Also I think twelve years is a nice long gap too between when you last read the book – I’m sure it will be like falling in love with it all over again!

    David

  11. I’m reading Dracula for the FOURTH time. Three times some 30 years ago, and just started it again, a couple weeks ago. To me, it’s just a good as I remembered it. Love the book. I’m not into the “current crop of vampires,” but this book can’t be beat on many levels, and when I finished with it, I’m going to write up a post. Love the atmosphere and style of this book!

    So, Vanessa—GO FOR IT! :-]

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