Do You Re-read Books?

Posted by on August 11, 2014 in reading | 2 comments

This past weekend, I curled up in my comfy red-and-gold chair (after removing the gold cat, who makes the chair more gold than red), and I re-read THE HOBBIT.  I haven’t read THE HOBBIT since …  maybe college?  High school?  Maybe even junior high?


(I know that I first read the book as required reading in fifth grade, and I re-read it numerous times in middle school.  The copy I read this past weekend was highly annotated — I planned on turning the novel into a play, and I struck through vast quantities of narration so that all of the dialog was ripe for the plucking.  The strike-throughs didn’t keep me from reading this time around, but I can’t *imagine* what I was thinking about my future as an adaptor.  Although, I did adapt THE LITTLE PRINCE and ILLUSIONS for successful school plays in ninth grade, so maybe I *was* onto something!)

In any case, it was a fun book to re-read.  I remembered huge swaths of the story (although, oddly, I’d almost completely forgotten about Beorn.)  I justified my wrath with the bloated movie version.  I laughed at some of the quaint language.

I actually intend to re-read LotR in the near future.  But generally, I don’t re-read books very often.  I don’t have a lot of time to read, because I work from home, so I no longer have a subway commute to fill with great books.  I’m a slow reader, so any book I choose to read represents a fairly substantial investment of my time.  A lot of my reading choices are occupied by books that I *must* read — either for editing clients, or for the Book View Cafe co-op, or to stay abreast of developments in the genres where I write.  All of those factors combine to make re-reads “cost” a lot.

But there are long lists of books I want to re-read — Patricia McKillip’s THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD.  R.A. MacAvoy’s TEA WITH THE BLACK DRAGON.  The early Pern books.  Etc., etc., etc.  Obviously, I need to manage my time a lot better than I’m currently doing.

So.  How about you?  Do you re-read books?  If you do, how do you choose which ones to re-read?  How often do you set aside books, realizing that they aren’t as good as you remember them to be?  How often do you discover greater depths that you missed on earlier rounds?


  1. Ha! That’s the same cover I had on my copy of The Hobbit, which came along with the The Lord of The Rings in a boxed set.

    The first I ever heard about the stories was when my mother gave them to me as a gift when I was 11, based on the recommendation of some co-workers.

    I re-read books all the time, whenever I feel nostalgic for a title. I’ve been through Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books more times than I can remember.

    (Todd McCaffrey’s efforts started out promising, but eventually I soured on them and they’re in a box somewhere.)

    I periodically re-read a number of Andre Norton’s classic SciFi novels. I’ve re-read most of my James Hogan and Jack McDevitt books at least once. I’ve been through the complete 20-volume set of “The Adventures of Brother Cadfael” at least four times.

    And, of course, I’ve read The Hobbit and LOTR about 13 times over the years. I’ve now got the green hardcover volume of The Hobbit and the red omnibus hardcover volume of LOTR.

    I can still remember my childhood favorites vividly, but more recent titles almost feel new every time I pick them up. The old brain just doesn’t remember things as well as it used to.

    In addition to that, I’ve been frequenting used bookstores for the works of Ben Bova and Charles Sheffield.

    I’m not buying too many new books. I browse through the SciFi/Fantasy section and get depressed over the number of vampire novels and the like. My tastes in SciFi haven’t changed much over the years, but the world has definitely moved on.


    Bob Shepard of Denver

    • Tastes *do* change in mainstream publishing, but there are usually a few newbies who perpetuate the old flavors!

      I, too, loved Brother Cadfael — the charm of doing forensics without modern tools. I also have the same green- and red-leather-bound Tolkien books.

      Time. That’s what I want to buy. Time to read more!