After swearing I wouldn't reread any books this year, I've already reread two. I'm not unhappy about it — those books are two of my favorites, and it had been a very long time since I'd read them. It got me thinking, though: rereading a book is a unique experience. Sure, reading a book for the first time is a special, once-in-a-lifetime event, but there's nothing like cracking that spine for the second, fifth, or twelfth time. Rereading your favorite book is like slipping into a soft sweater or an old t-shirt: familiar, comfortable, and just what you need sometimes.
It isn't all old hat, though. Think about it: there are new editions to explore, vintage paperbacks to smell, and signed copies to fawn over. And you can read the same book — even the very same copy — as many times as you like, but no two readings will ever be the same.
Everyone has a different favorite book, and no two people who read a book will grow in the same ways from the experience. Some folks read for pleasure, others for spiritual enlightenment, and still others for factual information. But some things about rereading a book are simply universal. Here are the fabulous Golden Girls to walk you through the 11 stages of rereading your favorite book. (Because, why not?)
1. Getting Giddy Over The Opening Lines
One of my favorite opening lines comes from Stephen King's The Gunslinger : "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." As soon as I read that line, I know exactly where I am. I'm back in Mid-World, on the quest to save the Dark Tower, and this is where it all begins.
No matter what your favorite book is, I'm betting that reading the first sentence makes you all kinds of bubbly inside. You know how it ends, but right now you're at the beginning, with the whole story ahead of you. And that is a beautiful, happy-making thing.
2. Remembering The First —Or Last — Time You Read It
I can't read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire without thinking about Myrtle Beach, and I can't read Geek Love without thinking about Dr. Godfrey's English Lit Intro course. Because just like movies, songs, and scents, some books will forever be tied to particular places, times, and memories.
Experiencing a book's imprint is an integral part of rereading it. You aren't just in the story — you're traveling back in time to whenever and wherever you were when you made those memories.
3. Smiling Knowingly At All The Best Passages
Sometimes, you read a line and just have to ruminate on it, read it over and over again until it hangs in the air. Even when you move on, those words echo in the back of your mind. You'll eventually lose that line; it'll slip away from you, and you'll forget all about it. Until you reread the book, that is. Then you'll find those amazing words again, and you'll smile. They might not mean the same thing to you now, but they'll still blow you away with their polish and power.
4. Feeling Guilty For Ignoring Your TBR Pile
I don't know about you, but my To Be Read pile is monstrously large. Like Alaska Young, I'll probably die before I finish all the books I want to read. Whenever I reread a book, I feel a little bit guilty for ignoring all the unread books on my shelves and Goodreads lists. After all, don't they deserve my attention? I haven't paid them any yet, and I've already read Animal Farm seven ... oh, forget it, the unread books can wait.
5. Noticing Something Awesome You Didn't Remember
We've all been there: Wait, what? That happened? That happened?! I don't remember that!
Whether it was a great passage or a foreshadowing of the book's ending twist, you probably missed it on the first read. Or maybe you just forgot about it. Either way, rereading your favorite book will almost always lead you to discover — or rediscover — new passages and plot twists.
6. Realizing It'll Never Be Like The First Time
To express the sentiments shared by so many of my generation: I wish I could read Harry Potter again for the first time. There's nothing in the world like reading a wonderful book, and it won't be the same ever again. Even if you forget most of the story, you can never dive back into it as fresh as the first time. It's a depressing thought, but it makes every book nerd cherish her first readings even more.
7. Wondering How It Can Still Be This Good
Great writers can move us no matter how many times we've read their books, which is exactly why we keep coming back for more. Even if reading a book was exactly the same every time, we'd still read the great ones over and over again. It'll never be like the first time, but that's OK, because the rereading is still so, so good.
8. Telling Your (Uninterested) Friends All About It
If you're like me, you just have to share the great book you're reading with everyone who will listen. You gush about it, read passages from it, and try to hype up the film adaptation to your friends. Unfortunately, your friends probably aren't nearly as interested in that book as you are, but that doesn't mean you should stop trying to convert them.
9. Experiencing The Horrors Of Your Favorite Character — Again
Especially if they die. No matter how long it has been or how many times you've read your favorite book, it still hurts when your favorite character dies. We see some deaths coming, and others take us by surprise, and experiencing them all over again never gets any better, especially when it's your favorite character on the chopping block. *insert Ned Stark joke here*
10. Thinking About The Sequel (Or Wishing There Was One)
Whenever you're rereading a book, you'll have to consider the sequel: should you reread it, as well? Should you reread the entire series now? If there isn't a sequel, you have to ask why the author never followed up on the story. Didn't Jane Austen know we'd all care what happened to Elizabeth and Darcy? Didn't she care?! If you're a fiction writer, you'll inevitably look up when the copyright expires on your favorite book, and contemplate writing the sequel yourself.
11. Taking In The Afterglow
So you've finished rereading your favorite book. Now what? Just enjoy the afterglow of it. It feels just as good to shut that cover as it does to open it, so pat yourself on the pack for a job well-done, and shelve that novel until the next time rolls around.
Images: ♍/Tumblr; Giphy (11)