My niece is adorable. She’ll have me read her favorite book about 8,000 times before bed, then wake up and ask me to read it another few hundred times before breakfast. Each time we read it she gasps and laughs in all the right places as if she’s never heard it before, even though she’s mouthing every word along with me. If you were to ask her why she wants to read the same book over and over, she would answer, “again.”
That’s roughly the same answer I’ve gotten from adults when asking why or if they reread books: “I liked it, so I read it again.” It’s a totally valid gut response, one that my niece would agree with wholeheartedly. But that’s not the only excuse we’ve got for pulling out our old favorites again and again. Here are 10 reasons we love to reread our favorite books:
1. They give us comfort. Numero uno. The most basic reason to revisit that perfect passage of Pride and Prejudice is to feel good, happy, and safe. It’s the same reason we put on that worn-in pair of slippers everyday after work.
2. The movie adaptation is coming out. You need to bone up on what actually happens in the book so you can be outraged when the movie completely butchers it in favor of a nonexistent love story.
3. To escape. Of course you know what’s going to happen when you reread your favorite book, but that’s okay, because it’s your happy place, and nothing unexpected or unmanageable happens there.
4. You’re older. You’re a different person from the teenager you were when you read Wuthering Heights. You’ve experienced love, monstrous in-laws, and loss. It’s not about knowing what events take place in the story: do you know how much you can learn about yourself by rereading a book? Discovering new layers in an author’s words enlightens you about yourself. It’s cheap, effective therapy.
5. You have a test on this tomorrow. Your brain is not a fortress. It’s no secret that we forget most of what we read when we’re finished with a book. The more times you read, the more it sticks.
6. You didn’t care for the author’s new book. Go back to the glory years before they’re forgotten!
7. You missed the whole point the first time around. A friend of mine (cough) read the entirety of The Sun Also Rises without catching on to the very real reason the main character can’t be with the love of his life. In my friend’s defense, it isn’t very clearly spelled out—if it wasn’t clear to you either, the book is worth a reread.
8. Family traditions. Books can be memories, which is why stories like The Night Before Christmas and other read-out-loud-worthy classics deserve a permanent place on our shelves.
9. Because now you know whodunit. It’s always fun to reread a murder mystery knowing what you know now. It’s a wonderfully smug feeling.
10. You’re avoiding talking to the person next to you on the plane. Although you’re probably better off pretending to be asleep.
Why do you reread your favorite books?