I need a re-read.
Those are not empty examples. All that happened to me … just this week. And what does an avid reader do when she’s in the middle of a 950-page, high fantasy epic and still has 3 books for book club to read in the next 10 days? Well, she doesn’t get to re-read I’ll tell you that much.
It’s not that I’m easily distracted. It’s not that I’m not totally dedicated to the book I’m reading. It’s just those past reads are soooo goooooooood, and I need them in my life some more. I swear I don’t want to cheat on my new book. It’s perfectly fine. But the sensory memory of the experience of my faves … MMMMmmmm. A good re-read is like a repeat with a hot ex. You don’t mean to. You don’t want to. But you KNOW it’s gonna be So.Good.
It used to be so easy …
It’s just in this internet over-sharing community we live in, I’m so aware of what I haven’t read, what my friends are reading, what my favorite authors have loved. When I was younger, I re-read my favorite books all.the.time. Probably because the only recommendations I got came from the Scholastic catalog, the extra-worn spines at my library, and the strange literary references that P__ Mc___ wrote in sharpie on his backpack (he was hot; his “Frodo Lives” graffiti is how I found Lord of the Rings when I was 14).
But now …
It’s nothing but recommendations all day long, every day. My Want to Read list is as long as my Read one. Some of those books have been on there for years. And if I keep looking longingly at The Fever series (which I’ve read THREE TIMES ALREADY), I’m never going to get to them. And also, I kind of totally judge people who do nothing but re-read the same books, the same genre, the same author over and over. With so many incredible books out there, how many times can you keep coming back to Clive Cussler* or whatever?
*I really mean Outlander fans. Seriously, folks. Those books are great. I love them. I re-read them frequently, but if you’re on your 8th read of the entire series and the Lord John books, you need an actual intervention. THERE ARE OTHER BOOKS OUT THERE.
Still, I re-read almost as often as I read something new. Already this year, I re-read Grave Mercy (so I could read the sequel, Dark Triumph), all of Sarah MacLean’s books, The Siren, and Choke. And that’s just in the past couple of months.
So, here’s my attempt at trying to get through the urge. Because sometimes, it’s ok to give in, get lost in a favorite. After all, didn’t CS Lewis say, “It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.” I’m pretty sure he was referring to classics, but whatever. I’m with you, Clive. If for no other reason than I really want to re-read American Gods again this summer.
Ways to Cope with the Chronic Re-Reads
This is my favorite coping mechanism, because it’s kind of naughty, it makes you feel good, but there’s no time-suck guilt. However, it only works with certain kinds of books. You have to love them for only one thing in particular. Because if you love every moment, every turn of phrase and every scene you will only come away frustrated. My baby, Nikolaj, gets it. A Song of Ice and Fire books are perfect for skimming because they are so delightfully categorized by character. Also helpful in this endeavor: ereaders.
I know it’s difficult, but if you don’t have the book on your shelf, you are a lot less likely to feel the overwhelming, all consuming desire to drop your entire life and read it again. And think, because you love it so much you are really enriching someone else’s life by letting them borrow it. It’s very close to being a win-win. Just make sure you threaten them with bodily harm should they do your lovey damage.
I’ve talked about Melina Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles enough for just about anyone to know that I struggle about every 10 days with wanting to re-read it. That is not hyperbole. Nearly once a week I have to physically stop myself from picking Finnikin of the Rock back up. Because it won’t end there. I will have to read all 1507 pages of the trilogy and then probably pick up The Piper’s Son too. I would love it … GOD WOULD I LOVE IT … but I would never get anything done. So, shunning. It’s 95% mental determination, but you can always employ this gif when someone pops up on your timeline and wants to know what you think about Trevanion and Beatrice.
Good lord, just read it. We all fall off the wagon, and while the pain of knowing you succumbed can be very real, the pleasure can be so so sweet. It’s just such a vicious cycle of guilt and glee. The good ones, they have such a delicious grip.
So, I have plans to do some re-reading soon. Our Boozy Book Club book this month is Persuasion after all, and that is one of my all-time top 10 re-reads. We’re also reading Murder of Crows, so I’ll probably re-read Written in Red. And it actually has been quite some time since I re-read Lumatere, so I’m putting that on my list as well. I can’t quit you, Finnkin.
I’m also planning to re-read Outlander (also in the all-time top 10 re-reads) this summer before the show comes out. Mainly because … this gif.
What are your favorite re-reads? Are you like me and feel completely guilty for not getting to all the great books out there because you have a literary hard-on for past loves?