Someone who read a recent blog of mine blog asked me “why do you re-read your old writing texts and “how to” books? Didn’t you get enough out of them the first time? Did you miss important stuff? Instead of answering the question directly, I asked this instead: “Haven’t you ever read something – a book,or an article – that was just so good you read it again just for the pleasure of it?” The answer I got back was typical of most people: “No. Once I read something, that’s it. I’m done.”
A sad, but a very common occurrence among people. Most people will see a movie more than once if they like it – this is evidenced based fact: look at how many movie DVD’s are sold each and every day, not rented. Or, they will listen to a song endlessly. But to re-read a favored book? Not happening.
I’ve read Gone with the Wind 11 times. Cover to cover. And I could read it again tomorrow if I had the time to devote to it.
I’ve read To Kill A Mockingbird 8 times. I can quote descriptions and dialogue when prompted.
Last year I re-read every “In Death” book by J.D.Robb again, starting with the first one in the series, Naked in Death and finishing with the most current one Concealed in Death, straight out. I didn’t read anything else until I finished all of them. Re-reading the list in order, the way it was written, was very powerful for me. I could see and watch how J.D.Robb grew her characters with each book, building on their personalities, using their individual backgrounds to advance the plot and the series characters themselves. It was like taking a master class on how to develop character and plot arcs effectively. I gleamed so much valuable information and writing development wisdom from re-reading the series that has helped me enormously with my own writing.
To me, re-reading a favored book is more pleasurable than seeing a favored movie over and over again. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve seen The Birdcage at least two dozen times – and every time I laugh while I quote the dialogue! But to spend time to re-read a book, one that gave you such treasured hours of pleasure, one that, every time you read it, you learn something new, or find something new from, something you didn’t see before, is to me one of life’s most wonderful ways to spend a few hours.
Re-reading my writing craft books and texts brings me the same pleasure, because every time – EVERY TIME – I find something, some tidbit, some phrase of wisdom, I didn’t see when I read it the last time. And to me, that is time so valuably spent.
What’s your favorite book? When was the last time you read it? Why not get reacquainted and read it again? Believe me, you’ll be happy when you do.