I’m a book addict, but over the years I’ve become more selective with what I read- mostly because I ran out of space for new books on my shelf. My new policy: if it’s not worth re-reading, don’t buy it. (Yes, I know you can get books for free from the library, but it can’t compare to the feeling of opening a fresh clean book that belongs to you. With no worries about bedbugs or the remains of someone’s dinner falling onto your pillow.)
All of the books that I own have been read a minimum of 3 times, some over 10 times. Maybe it’s just me, but every time I re-read a book I discover new things that I may have missed the first time. Not because I didn’t read it carefully, but when you’re familiar with something you can start to absorb more of the little details that color the story. Descriptive words that didn’t seem important at first, but alters the way something or someone looks in your mind. A punctuation mark that changes the meaning or intent of a sentence. A deeper understanding of the characters and what makes them tick. And so on.
Another reason to re-read books: Some books have good feelings associated with it, they make you feel better every time you read them. You already know the characters intimately; the same jokes can make you laugh every time; you can escape to a familiar alternate reality.
If a book has nothing to offer me the second time around, then it’s not worth keeping. It may be enjoyable as a “beach read”- fun but forgettable, doesn’t earn spot on the shelf.
When I buy a new book in a series, I re-read the series from the beginning. This way the enjoyment lasts longer, and it helps refresh my memory, because I’m so bad at recalling all the little details that came before. It’s no different than watching Harry Potter 1-6 before going to see part 7, or reading the book before going to see the movie. (Not saying that I did either!)
I also try to read each book on my shelf at least once a year… or every two years. At this point I own around 500 books and have very little free time. But there’s a reason I won the reading award in 5th grade! (50+ books in one month- the most in my school)
So which books have I read too many times to count?
Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold – there’s no such thing as too many times when it comes to reading this series. The best part is that it’s a loooong series; the worst part is that it’s not long enough. The greatest series ever written.
Betsy~Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace – If there was ever any book reality that I wish was mine, this is it. It may be considered a children’s series, but I love the characters, the setting, the story and the heart.
Gordon Korman – Whenever I need a quick pick-me-up I read a Gordan Korman book. His books are hilarious, and though I’ve read each one a hundred times they still manage to crack me up.