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6 Reasons I Re-Read Books

I keep a row of books to be read across the top of my desk, and I have close to thirty more in a basket stored below. I have notes on my phone of books I want to prioritize each year, and hundreds more titles that I haven’t written down but will “get to someday”.

My TBR will take me more than a lifetime to finish, and yet I often find myself reading books or series I’ve already read... some more than once. I’ve been asked why I do this, sacrificing precious reading time to retrace my steps instead of charging ahead. Honestly, I ask myself this any time I pick up a book I’ve read before. Can I justify giving more time to something I already completed?

But the answer for the books that draw me in more than once is always an unequivocal “yes.” For various reasons, I find these books more worthy of my time than others, and I don’t mind diving back in. I’ve done my best to identify the reasons I find myself revisiting books, as much for myself as for others.


1. I need to see how the book holds up.


Several times, I have finished an especially good book that I have talked it up to others and added it to a list of personal favorites. Over time, I began to question the praise. Did the book really deserve the recommendations and esteem? So I read it again. Usually, it’s just as good as I remembered.


2. I need the nostalgia.


Some books are intertwined with a life experience or a period of my life and reading them again is like a time machine. Like flipping through a photo album, I can revisit not just the book but the memories surrounding the book.


3. My perspective shifts.


I love gaining new insight into beloved (or hated) characters and their situations as I grow older. No character in literature could make my blood boil like Amy March until my most recent dive into Little Women. Between being ridiculously vain about limes, burning Jo’s manuscript, and stealing her sister’s trip to Europe (and happy ending), I had to grit my teeth to make it through the portions of the book that focused on her. But then I noticed a section I had no memory of reading before. Amy experiences injustice and cruelty, too. I also realized that Jo’s real happy ending might be different than the one I (and thousands of other readers) envisioned for her. Seeing characters differently reminds me to try and see people differently.


4. I want a deeper understanding.


The book was complex, and I want to dig into and understand more of it. There are several books that I’ve read multiple times and still uncover new layers of meaning each time I revisit them like Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding or C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces. I don’t feel like I’m truly done reading them when I reach the final page because I haven’t uncovered everything they have to teach me.


5. I read because I need familiarity.


Sometimes I need to read a book that I know. There’s something specific I need to feel, and I can be sure I’m going to get that with a book I’ve read before.


6. I visit old friends.


Some books contain characters who become real to me. They became dear friends as I read through the first time, and it would feel like letting those relationships die if I didn’t revisit them.



What about you? Are there any reasons you re-read books that I didn’t mention here? Or are you completely against spending more time on a book you’ve already finished? Let me know in the comments!

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Melissa Hanberry
Melissa Hanberry
May 03, 2023

At my age I now reread to remember certain parts of my favorite books that might have gotten a little fuzzy. 😂 But I also reread to experience the joy that book brought me. Most stand up to time.

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