Reading books more than once

Janny Wurts Chat Area: Reading, Writing, and ...: Reading books more than once
   By Winter on Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - 09:24 pm: Edit Post

The other day I ended up in a classroom with 80 odd students and the Prof asked if anybody read a book more than once (six or so). Or more than three times (3 this time).

I always knew that I read more than the average person, but I never realised that so few people ever look at a book twice. To me, if I haven't read a book more than once, I probably didn't like it all that much. A book that's worn out from repeated use, is a book that's loved.

This is probably not a good sampling since Janny's books are built for re-reading, but am I really that odd?


   By starstorm on Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - 09:47 pm: Edit Post

It's kind of funny you mention this, because I typically read at my desk at work while eating lunch if I don't go out, and the co-worker who sits next to me recently asked what I do with my books once I've read them, because he donates his once he finishes them. He didn't seem shocked or anything when I told him that unless I don't really like a book, I'll keep it, and re-read it at some point, but I thought it was kind of a strange question because I've just always assumed that everybody kept and re-read their books (at least their favorites), based on my friends who read.

I could certainly part with some of the books I have, but I have very many more that I frequently rotate as re-reads. So, in this group, I doubt we're all that odd, but maybe in general, especially if a great many more people read, um, disposable (content-wise) books, we might seem a bit strange. If I read books that were the literary equivalent of a bag of cheese puffs, I wouldn't re-read them either. No offense to those who actually like cheese puffs :-)

But when you've got something as lovely and nuanced as a book by Janny (or Guy Kay, or Carol Berg, or whoever else you love), it's definitely worth enjoying more than once!

~Anna


   By Hunter on Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - 10:45 pm: Edit Post

Not reading a book more than once seems very similar to buying a CD and only listening to it once.


   By Kirsten Laurelle Wallace on Thursday, February 12, 2009 - 09:54 am: Edit Post

I own a lot of books and I've re-read most of them at least once. I guess it never occurred to me that was odd. I think you get more out of the book the second time around. And, with my favorites, five times wouldn't be pushing it.

I guess I also have so many because I hope my kids will read them someday. :-) Not that I have any kids yet, but maybe in the next year or two.


   By Clansman on Thursday, February 12, 2009 - 10:52 am: Edit Post

I am an avid re-reader. I have read Tolkien's main books many times, and read The Hobbit aloud to my children last year (BTW, any parents of children aged 4-8, this is a great story to read aloud. Tolkien wrote this story perfectly for the spoken voice. You can have fun with the voices, too (e.g. Thorin was always a deep, sombre scottish brogue)).

Any of my epic fantasy series, which are long and take many years to produce, I re-read in order to get up to speed for the next book (though I stopped this with Wheel of Time, as I just want it to be over). The detail in the modern epics like the Wars of Light and Shadow and in other series calls out for re-reads. You also get much more out of the book on a considered, slower second read, as on the first I am turning pages as fast as I can to find out what happens. The second time through, you appreciate the nuance and subtlety much more.

If a story is good, it can be told over and over. A good book can be read over and over.


   By Trys on Thursday, February 12, 2009 - 01:58 pm: Edit Post

Re-reading books is wonderful... but at some point one's personal library gets to a size that you begin to doubt that some books will ever get re-read... not to mention that some (many) of them date from the mists of childhood and early adulthood and I begin to wonder if I will find them every bit as wonderful as I once did. However, I can say that in a few cases this has been absolutely true. When the video version of A Wrinkle in Time was due to air I re-read the book and it has stood the test of time without suffering one bit. The same with the Earthsea books.

I do agree with what has already been said. Quality stories/books are not only enjoyable the second, third, etc. (18 times for LotR) time, but some books literally cry out to be re-read (beware of listening too closely to the mutterings coming from the library in the wee, dark hours of the night <grin>).

Trys


   By Artemis on Friday, February 13, 2009 - 02:28 pm: Edit Post

A good story is always worth re-reading. Sometimes I want (or need) to read but don't want to (or am too lazy to) start something new, so I call upon one of my old favourites and settle down knowing that I'm going to enjoy my book. It's like pulling on a comfy sweater. I have even read a book til it's fallen apart, then bought a new copy.

Not posted for a while. Hope you are all well.
It's b***** cold.

Artie


   By Mark Stephen Kominski on Saturday, February 14, 2009 - 07:07 am: Edit Post

I haven't quite gotten so far as to read a book until it disintegrates, Artie, but I definitely re-read the good ones. Janny averages two reads right off the bat (come on, admit it: none of you catch all the nuances the first time around with our wonderful Talespinner's stuff!), with additional re-reads later as the fit takes me. I reckon I've read Curse 4 times, for example.

I'm probably on the "needing psychiatric help" end of the spectrum when it comes to The Lord of the Rings, however: I've read the trilogy more than 20 times....


   By Iris on Saturday, February 14, 2009 - 09:38 am: Edit Post

Mark - i'm with you on the The Lord of the Rings... that's too funny. I wonder if anyone has named a malady for this type of affliction.

Sadly, I've ran into a number of younger people (20ish) of late that liked the movies but did not get into the books. Out of curiosity, how old were you when you read them (I was in 9th grade - so 14 or so).

As for JW's books, they are worthy of many re-reads, there's always something different to notice. Come to think of it, I've been thinking a lot about Stormed Fortress. Time to pick it up again.

(back to lurking...)


   By Winter on Saturday, February 14, 2009 - 11:26 am: Edit Post

Gee, I must still me an oddity because I'm one of the few Fantasy fans who doesn't like Tolkien. I remember reading the Hobbit in school and liking (but not loving) it but I haven't re-read it, which is a bad sign. I first picked up Lord of the Rings as a kid but got fed up with how long it was taking and didn't finish it. I did get through the entire trilogy as an adult but still didn't care for it all that much.

One thing I've taken up in the last year or so is finding audiobooks for my favorite novels. I find I catch a lot more little details when listening than reading. Maybe because the process is so much slower. Too bad the only thing I've ever seen of Janny's is a text-to-speech version of the Empire trilogy. That technology may have come a long way but it won't be replacing human readers any time soon.


   By Mark Stephen Kominski on Saturday, February 14, 2009 - 12:25 pm: Edit Post

About the same time, Iris; 10th Grade. At least it's a fun affliction to have! And wasn't Janny talking about something in the works for either electronic books or an audiobook, Winter? Maybe i was hallucinating (a side affect of tolkienmegalomania? ;-)?


   By max on Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - 03:14 am: Edit Post

Years ago and many posts ago, I wrote that if characters died I would be too depressed to read further. Well.....I have SO learned to deal with that problem!!! Also with the let down of a series coming to an end when you wanted it to never end!! I just go right back to the beginning and start a re-read right then and there. Oh look!! he's alive and the adventure is just beginning. I can't tell you how much fun I have with that little habit. [grinning at ya]


   By Alex Padgett on Wednesday, September 05, 2012 - 01:40 pm: Edit Post

I actually have a good bit of difficulty rereading stories I've finished before, only reading them again after years have passed. I DO have a collection of stories I've memorized so well I can thread them blindfolded, but those are the books I grew up with, the inkfriends who comforted me when I needed it. Mercedes Lackey was my biggest companion (no pun intended, for those familiar with her Velgarth books) through my childhood, and I *still* didn't read any of them more than once a year.

My biggest problem with rereading is that I KNOW how the story goes, and I know how it twists and turns, and I keep that in my head for a long, long while. I'll probably start reading CotM again shortly, but it's been a couple of years since my last (and first) read, and I *still* remember a decent amount of it.

And as for Max... Remember, if the death of a character pulls at your heartstrings, he's just as real as anyone you know, and sometimes more. But there are times when it's good to see a character die - not just when they're a villain, but after a long, fitting struggle through a cold, depressive life, spending the vast majority without love or care *coughVanyelcough*. A good writer makes us mourn for a character's demise. A great writer can keep up our cheer even while we mourn, so long as the death brings about a satisfactory ending.

For the record, that's sort of how I expect this series to end. I guess we'll see.


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