Why do you read a book you've already read?

  • Premium Member

    This question comes up from time to time when dealing with people who aren't as "in to" books. The stock answer I give is, "For the same reason people listen to music they've already heard!"

    But, it can be more than that. I recently decided to finish Haruhi Suzumiya, since the 11th volume is soon to come out (ebook is already out). So I bought all of them in Kindle format for convenience, and started reading at the beginning.

    I've already encountered many subtleties I honestly didn't remember about Haruhi and Kyon. I also checked the hard-cover editions, and those same things are there, so it's not like things changed between translations. Things that are missing or different in the anime.

    So, it is almost like reading a slightly-different book. Reason enough for me to read it again!

  • Staff

    If I am reading a book again, it is because I want to experience the story again.

    Books are these magical things that can take you across the world, into space, through dimensions, and into other worlds...

    I am one of those readers that inserts themselves into the story, so I can try to experience what is happening through my own senses.

    When I read something I really enjoy, I would want to read/experience it again.

  • Premium Member

    for me - certain books are more than what's on the page. Some books are tied to specific times in my life (I've read The Hobbit at least a dozen times, it's like visiting with old friends, and it reminds me of what I was doing the other times I've read it, childhood friends and whatnot. Heinlein's works make me nostalgic for my university days, and occasionally I'll re-read Have Space Suit-Will Travel or Red Planet and I'm teleported to the reading room at the Student Union.)
    for whatever reason I rarely re-read LNs I find myself more interested in what happens next

  • Translators

    @SomeOldGuy said in Why do you read a book you've already read?:

    The stock answer I give is, "For the same reason people listen to music they've already heard!"

    This is a pretty good response. I think it sums up a lot of the nuances in a catchy little phrase. And just like there are lots of reasons to listen to music you've already heard, there's a similar range of reasons to read a book you've already read.

    Like Rahul said, you might just enjoy the story and want to experience it again. Like Jon said, books might have specific nostalgic resonances for you. One big reason I revisit books (and, for that matter, movies and, yes, music) I've already been through is that I as a person change throughout my life. Something I dismissed in high school might suddenly seem rich and bountiful with another fifteen or twenty years' life experience. (I had this experience with The Great Gatsby some time back.) Or something I already loved can reveal new facets--you can read the plays of Shakespeare, for example, as many times as you like and never run out of new things to see, think, and feel about them. As you say, it can be like reading a different book. And because you know the text of the book hasn't changed, that means it's you, not the book, that's different. That can even give you a little insight into how you've changed.

  • Premium Member


    I pretty rarely consume the same media twice (except for music, but that is very passive). For example, I've probably read over 100 JNC novels by now and the only ones I've ready again are the LDM series. I've been reading manga for probably 15 years, and the only one I can think of actively re-reading is fairy tail. Pretty much the same with Anime which I've watched for 25+ years. I can't really think of a series that I've watched more than once. Here are some LN series I'm thinking of rereading and why:

    If it's for my daughter - Knowing how it ends and how it can have multiple interpretations I'm curious if rereading it how well it lines up with the darker interpretation.

    Ascendance of a Bookworm - I'm thinking of rereading up to current after part 3 is done to see how it holds up. It might be kind of dense to binge that much though.

    Rising of the Shield Hero - Sometime around when this series ends I might start it from the beginning again and see if it really gets as bad as I remember or if my opinion will change after reading so much other LN.

  • Premium Member

    There are so many books I want to read that I only rarely reread books. I usually only do a reread if a new book in a series is out and so much time has passed that I want to read the previous book(s) as a recap. I've also read a few series multiple times because I want to re-enter the world and because I know it's a great story, like going back to Lord of the Rings.

    When I do reread for a well written book I get a lot out of it because I notice more details and appreciate the foreshadowing and groundwork. I might for example appreciate a character more because I know their motivations and backstory much better.

  • Premium Member

    In addition to the good answers above:

    The experience can change when you have a better understanding of what's going on.

    So I'm A Spider, So What? Has multiple timelines in the narrative, and that fact is not made clear to the reader until several volumes into the series. Re-reading it knowing the outline of the story makes the connections between events much clearer, and changes your view of some events especially ones experienced by the humans.

    Even with simpler narratives, knowing the future can help you appreciate the hints and foreshadowing in the story.

    Good television that's actually planned out or at least pays attention to continuity can be like that too. Babylon 5 had a 5-year plan before the first episode filmed. Buffy and SG-1 both did a good job of remembering the past to bring back characters and develop new consequences from earlier events. In SG-1 if they acquired some new alien tech it didn't just disappear never to be seen again as happens in many story-of-the-week SF series.

  • In addition to the above answers; for me it can also be because I'm in a particular mood that I know a book I've read will match perfectly, making the re-read more engaging and leaving me satisfied at the end, whether the book has a happy ending of not.
    Good art can be appreciated over and over again, is also why most people have at least 50 things in their top 10, whether it's movies/plays, music, literature or pictures/statues.

  • Premium Member

    A well written story reveals more of the world and scenario with a second read through.

    Things subtly alluded to become apparent with hindsight.

  • Premium Member

    Same here: sometimes I just want to re-experience the story.

    Also there's the situation that I've recently only encountered with Light Novels, due to their serial nature: in many cases, the gap between volumes can be measured in years, and there are many LN stories with similar enough premises, that I may have completely forgotten who the characters are and what their relationships to each other might be. So I re-read earlier volumes to refresh my memory.

  • Premium Member

    I read an awful lot. Sometimes between new stories I’ll remember the feeling that I felt from a certain book/series and if I’ve read enough stories since I’ve read that one I’ll pick it up and savor the feelings again. Very rarely I’ll read it earlier and only a few times have I read it a second time immediately afterwards. Full disclosure, the more recently I’ve read a book and remember the details the more of the book contents I’ll skip, instead scanning to the good bits I want to read.

  • Premium Member

    I find that if I really got into the story, like really in depth when reading it, I go back and read that particular story again. I always find little things that I just happened to miss the first time around and that makes reading that story again all the more worth while. Most stories don't knock my socks off, so these instances are few and far between, but when it happens I find that I enjoyed the second read much more that the first.

  • Premium Member

    Some really good answers here! For me it's mostly a mix of what @Rahul-Balaggan and @Jon-Mitchell detailed out... either I want or need to re-experience a specific story that I crave or doing so reminds me of a time and place, when I first read the story.

    For me, doing so triggers a kind of nostalgia for the emotional experience of having read a particular story. For example, when I was in 4th grade my mother sat down with her copy of the Lord of the Rings that she had probably since highschool and read some to me every night. Then, the following summer, I took the same books and read them to her instead. They sit in my bookcase now, having lost her a year and change ago, and simply looking at them triggers a wave of different emotions, to say nothing of reading them.

    I don't actually re-read that much though. What does happen pretty often is I'll remember a particular phase or event in a book and I'll pick it up, flip right to it - I've never used bookmarks, never needed them... even as a kid I had an natural ability to pick up a book and flip right back to any part I'd read - and I'll re-read that specific part again. And usually a bit after it as well, of course. Though that really only applies to physical books.

    I don't know that I can point to any LN's that I've re-read a bunch though. Not because I wouldn't or that they don't deserve it, I think it's more to do with how much new there always is to read. And if I'm honest, I think a large part is also just in how I consume LN's. I am not a digital person, I only have a handful of books in my Kindle account and most of them are cookbooks. I love the convenience of digital, intellectually, but I'm a pure bibliophile... give me printed paper that I can hold and pages to turn, where the decision of where to read can have as much meaning as what to read, and that's where I build those emotional connections. I wouldn't be able to read as much if we didn't have digital, but the cost, for me at least, is that I don't build the same depth as a result.

  • Premium Member

    @xdrfiredogx said in Why do you read a book you've already read?:

    . give me printed paper that I can hold and pages to turn, where the decision of where to read can have as much meaning as what to read, and that's where I build those emotional connections.

    That's why I've had trouble getting into Bookworm -- I'm a contentophile not a biblophile :) . I prefer my kindle to a paper book because I don't care paper, smell, touch for a book just the words, and a kindle is a more convenient way to deliver them to me. Bookworm's MC seemed to love the paper as much or more than the words.

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