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Why Reread Books

Why Reread Books

By Ilia U.

Gaze over at your bookshelf and see all your treasured books just waiting to be cracked open again, inviting you to explore its pages once more. Yes, yes, we know: there are so many books and so little time to read them all. But in this post, we try to make a case for why you should reread books. Read on and hear us out!


Gain a new perspective

Sort of like when you visit your old school and are stunned to find out that everything seems smaller than you remember—rereading something as an older person can give you a new lens through which to view the text.

While the text remains unchanging, you are not the same person you were when you last read the same book. Life experiences, other books you've read, new relationships you've developed through the years can all alter how you interpret a story or perceive a character. For example, many who read Little Women as an child or young teen identified with Jo's independence and rebellious streak. But rereading it as an adult, one might finally be able to understand and relate with Amy's steady ambition and desire to belong.


Jumpstart your way out of a slump

Most readers will find themselves in a rut at some point in their reading life. When you don't want to invest in a new character or when you don't have the energy to follow an unknown storyline, rereading something you've already finished in the past presents a less daunting endeavor. Reading familiar lines can help get you unstuck. Try it sometime! You don't even have to finish a reread since you no longer need to find out how the story unravels.


Deepen your understanding

Sometimes when you're so caught up in a story, you miss out on a lot of details in the storytelling. Rereading and deliberately taking the time to work your way through the text can show you layers in the narrative you might have glossed over the first time around. Rereading can also give you the space to focus on other subplots or elements, now that you aren't primarily driven by a need to know what happens next.


Examine the author's design

For many writers, the first reading might be for pleasure and subsequent readings are to figure out how the author was able successfully weave sentences and pages to articulate an idea, achieve a desired emotional reaction, or develop a character's arc. Rereading and breaking down a text is the key in identifying the strategies and storytelling techniques that the author used to create a great story. Understanding how the narrative was developed and constructed can deepen the pleasure you derive from the book, and—if you're a writer—provide invaluable insight on how to approach your own writing.


Rediscover the text through a better translation or version

Like every Filipino high school student, we all read Jose Rizal's masterpiece, Noli Me Tangere. But we didn't necessarily had any choice which version of the novel we were assigned to read. It was only when I reread it in college using a different translation did the story come alive for me. I didn't know in high school how hilarious the novel was! Encountering it again years later gave me completely different understanding of the novel’s use of comedy (the tinola scene comes to mind!).

Perhaps you've read an abridged version of a classic when you were younger—try reading the full text this time around and see if it reveals new elements you were not able to perceive before.


Relive the experience

Stories are like worlds we can revisit anytime we want. Rereading an old favorite can provide comfort, especially when real life is turbulent. While everything else may be uncertain, a reader can find reassurance between the pages—knowing it will all turn out the same in the end. Or maybe it's been too long and you've already forgotten the story, then you get to experience it like the first time again.

Go on, reach out to that book sitting on your shelf, patiently waiting to be rediscovered. We hope you get to experience the unique joy of rereading. Check out some of suggested books for rereading below.

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