Do You Reread Your Books?

I reread books a lot. I do it because I love them–the story, the writing, and the ending. They are old friends. They are fun to read. They are absorbing. They are comforting.
But when I googled rereading, I didn’t find a single article that didn’t include a warning about reading for fun. Today! In our world that is supposedly more open minded than previous centuries. I mean we’re past the Catholic church telling people not to read the Bible in order to maintain their position as the sole conduit between the masses and God.

In the 1800s there was nearly panic over the growing popularity of novels. Articles vilifying novel-reading appeared in periodicals like The Mother’s Magazine and The Guardian and in books like Rev. J.T. Crane’s Popular Amusements,  Here’s what they said:

In the 1800s
leather books

  • A novel doesn’t impart knowledge or moral instruction. Thus thought processes will deteriorate. Instead, people just read for the fun of it. (And all that fun going around must be bad, right?)
  • Novels will make you dissatisfied with reality.
  • Novels evoke emotion. The thought that people wanted passion and excitement was frightening. If people started doing whatever they wanted, critics reasoned, chaos would rule and communities would break down
    If people read gripping thrillers, crime stories or sad, tragic tales, it would shred their morals and make them into unfeeling cads with no sympathy for their fellow humans.

Sound ridiculous? Here is what modern articles are saying about rereading. (I started to give references for these, but there are many many articles about rereading, and they mostly carry the same warnings.)


  • “What you gain is possibly a new perspective, new details you missed the first time around, and probably a better overall understanding of the book.”,/li.
  • “Try to find a balance between rereading books that you simply want to reread because they are fun and those that are worth rereading because there’s more you can learn from them.”
  • “You might be tempted to read again easy, fun books that simply bring you joy. While that is fine on occasion, constantly doing this will have a negative impact on how you evolve.”
  • “While there is no clear rule about the number of times it is acceptable to reread a certain book, the rule of thumb is that no book should be reread any sooner than six months after the last time you’ve read it.”
  • “Spending most of your time rereading books (,,,) will negatively affect your progress towards the end of your TBR list. That is clearly not ideal…”
  • “Just as binge-watching the same TV shows over and over again, rereading books that we once loved has a calming effect and can even be therapeutic to a certain extent.”

Doesn’t sound so different from the warnings from the 19th century, does it?

Reread For the Joy

Despite the dire warnings against reading, the folks of the 19th century reread their books. Back then there were fewer books and fewer people who could afford them. book writing was laborious (no typewriters, remember). Book printing even using Gutenberg’s printing press, invented four hundred years earlier, was a labor intensive craft (just not as much as hand copying a book.) The cheapest bindings were paper covered boards were still pricey. Bindings in embossed leather were exorbitant. The wealthy would buy a book bound in paper or cloth covered boards and have it rebound in leather. Books weren’t a throwaway item. Books were reread.


Modern paperback books are far cheaper than bindings of the past. However modern paperbacks are also produced with cheaper materials which will not last the number of years that fine bindings are designed to endure. Paperbacks are designed to be almost disposable./

Why then do we reread them?

We reread a book because it brings us satisfaction. It resonates with us, It tells a good story. It presents us with an intriguing what if. Because, for whatever reason, we like it. We don’t have to justify it’s worthiness. We can binge read a book again and again. We don’t have to focus on a TBR list. We can read and reread a book purely for the joy of reading.

Looking for your next favorite book, you’ll read again and again?


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