Reading vs. Rereading

*Note: There is always the possibility that you have some incredible spoiler sense, but I have tried to keep this spoiler-free.

A few years ago, I read Cinder, by Marissa Meyer, basically because I like fairy tale retellings. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t my stand-out book of the year or anything. (Although, to be fair, that was the same year I read The Hunger Games, so there was some pretty stiff competition.) I kept up with the series more or less as the books were released, not bothering to reread, until Winter, when suddenly… this wasn’t working.

I don’t blame Winter for that–honestly, considering that I’ve been reading this series one book at a time over a period of years, I’m surprised that I managed to go so long without rereading, and without (to my recollection) feeling lost during each new installment. Hats off to Marissa Meyer for that.

But now, finally, I set out to reread the series. And I discovered that this time, I liked–not just appreciated, or understood, but likedCinder more than I had the first time through. The characters, the setting, the structure–it connected in a way that it hadn’t, at least as far as I can remember, on that first read. It was all comforting and familiar and fun.

I’m sure people have said this before, or similar things (Nabokov’s quote comes to mind), but it makes me think that maybe some books are meant to be reread more than they’re meant to be read. Sort of like wine aging in a cellar (that’s a wine thing, right?), or (possibly?) the second brewing of some teas: it’s not the first read you’re really after. That’s not the ultimate, top-notch vintage of this particular book. It’s the second, or third, or whatever read.

Or maybe it’s similar to how sometimes, life circumstances can make a first read powerful: events completely outside an author’s control can nevertheless have a huge impact on how much that book hits home. That can happen with a reread, too. And while theoretically we should know it’s coming, since by definition this is our second/third/whatever time through the book, we can still be surprised, because we really don’t know what kind of chemical reaction will happen when life and book meet until we start reading.

For me, on this reread, I think it’s a combination of the two. Now if only I can get myself to reread a little faster, because as it turns out, enjoying a reread doesn’t make me devour a book at any great speed. The urgency is decidedly gone. It’s a much more leisurely kind of fun.

That could be a whole other post. But since this post has already gone on way longer than it should’ve (I’m sorry, injured hand!), I’ll wish you all a happy Monday, and happy reading! Or rereading, as the case may be.

2 thoughts on “Reading vs. Rereading

  1. I always felt that a sign of a good book is when a second reading gives you more than the first. Once you’re over the impatient need to skim read and find out what happens next, you can go back an look for the nuances and foreshadowing that you missed before (if there are any). Thanks for sharing your thoughts on rereading!

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    • Thank you for commenting! I know what you mean. Rereading always has its special pleasures and rewards, if we can find the time for them. I guess I should be grateful to The Lunar Chronicles for making me reread so that I could really get that final book in the series. 🙂

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