Old (Book) Friends

I confess I reread books. I know lots of people say there are too many books to read to ever reread a book. But an old book is like an old friend that provides comfort and stress relief. I also find different moods call for different books to reread.

I posed the question on The Wickeds group page yesterday to see if other people reread books. It wasn’t easy to categorize so I threw the “rarely” and “seldom” answers in with the no’s. Of the 93 comments 71 said they reread books and 22 said rarely or never. It was interesting to find that many of the people who answered reread for the same reasons I do.

If I need to escape from the present day I turn to my favorite childhood books – the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. I’ve talked about my love for these books many times. They start when Betsy is five and continue through to her wedding. The reading level increases as Betsy grows up.

Betsy returned to her chair, took off her coat and hat, opened her book and forgot the world again. Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown

Isn’t it mysterious to begin a new journal like this? I can run my fingers through the fresh clean pages but I cannot guess what the writing on them will be. Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy in Spite of Herself

If I’m stressed, I like to laugh. And I have go-to books to make me laugh. I will either read one of the first ten books in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series or Kellye Garrett’s Detective by Day series.

I don’t mind the love triangle in the Plum books. I also have opinions about who Stephanie should be with. I’m Ranger all the way. Joe always wants to change Stephanie and have her quit her job as a bounty hunter. Ranger, on the other hand, lets Stephanie be herself while at the same time watching out for her. But no matter who she’s with, Stephanie makes me laugh.

In spite of all the sparring that went on between us, I sort of liked Morelli. Good judgment told me to stand clear of him, but then I’ve never been a slave to good judgment. Janet Evanovich, Two for the Dough

Kellye Garrett’s two Detective by Day books make me laugh out loud no matter how many times I read them. Dayna is so funny and I love her relationship with her reluctant PI partner Aubrey. Dayna is a bit insecure, but also a take charge woman. A great combo for an engaging protagonist.

The best way to describe my reaction was shock and aww, as in aww crap, I did not see that coming. Kellye Garrett, Hollywood Endings

When I need comfort, I turn to classics. Years ago I had a list of the best one hundred books in the world. The first book I picked was Pride and Prejudice. Talk about love at first read. (I confess I wasn’t nearly as fond of my next pick, Ivanhoe.) I read Little Woman as a child and loved it so much and still do. How could I not ever revisit Jo and her sisters?

I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

I’m happy as I am, and love my liberty too well to be in a hurry to give it up for any mortal man. Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Readers: Do you reread books? If so why?

35 Thoughts

  1. Sadly, I don’t really have the time to read books over again. Between all the “new” books I have piled up to read plus the ARCs I get for review purposes, I can’t even keep up with that stuff.

    I’d love to have the time to re-read books that I loved the first time around. But these days, anything that I read and save on the shelves is strictly a display model for my modest library.

  2. When I’m feeling stressed, or want to revisit a time in my childhood, or have found a book that uses the language so well it is a joy to read, I will re-read books. In this year of COVID-19 I’ve re-read the early Nancy Drew books I loved. They bring me back to a time when a lot of my reading was by flashlight under the covers and I longed to solve mysteries and help people. When I lost my job, I re-read The Little Prince and there was much comfort in the tag line of the Desiderata that the universe is unfolding exactly as it should. A few years ago while fighting breast cancer I re-read The Five Little Peppers and Little Women. Hope and comfort in them both. For sheer beauty of language I re-read Dominick Dunne’s The Two Mrs. Grenvilles. Not a word wrong in that book.

    What surprises me the most about re-reading is each time I find something I missed before. Something that surprises me and speaks to the current situation. It was there all along, of course, but now it stands out.

      1. OK, that is an amazing trivia bit!!!! I DO reread books, especially when I’m under stress, and they tend to be ones from childhood … or just books I know I can get lost in. Anne of Green Gables, Little Women (Little Men, Jo’s Boys, Eight Cousins, Under the Lilacs), The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and the Graustark novels. I am SO DATING myself, but they were my grandmother’s, and when she died, she passed them on to me as I’d loved them when I found them in her library.

  3. I have a batch of keeper books that I go back to and reread every so often. Sometimes I’m just in the mood to read an old favorite and sometimes I can’t seem to get into any of my library books so I’ll go back and read something that I know I’ll enjoy.

  4. The picture caught my eye and I had to giggle. I just started rereading Betsy and Tacy! (I’m on the Halloween chapter of Heaven to Betsy). I crave the comfort of these books, especially in the fall. I’m also drawn to the Little House books and Judy Blume when I need downtime or when I’m waiting on books from my library!

    1. The Betsy-Tacy books are the best. They are a balm for the soul. I always identified with Betsy and her weak ankles and her blushing easily.

  5. Yes, I do reread books, but not very many. I have a select few that are comforting. If you enjoy Janet Evanovich, be sure to read Here Comes the Body by Maria DiRico. I just finished it last week and liked it! Interestingly, I have the Martha Steward book Entertaining and was able to look the author up on page 29. 🙂

  6. I rarely reread, but sometimes something will spur me to do so. For example, the new Dev Patel David Copperfield movie has me deeply curious. I loved, loved that book when I was young. Will I still? I really want to know. Incidentally, I still keep my favorite books and series on the shelves in my office, even though I probably won’t reread them. Sentimental attachment.

    1. I’ve been wondering about rereading Dickens. I remember reading Great Expectations in high school and hating it. I think I’d feel differently now.

      1. I taught Great Expectations years ago, in a class where I twinned it with Jack Maggs (Carey’s “re-take” on the story, from Magwitch the convict’s point of view). It’s always been one of my favorite Dickens novels … but I think teaching it made me love it more … if only because I had to sell it to my students! 🙂

  7. I’m so totally with you, Sherry. When life in general or family worries or politics are just too much, an old comfort read, with no suspense and no unhappy ending, is the only thing that works. Especially at bedtime. And I too love the Lovelace books. Mine were from the library but I have all of them now. And Alcott has been most beloved author my whole life – I have some really obscure ones as well as the classics. A few other childhood faves: Edward Eager, The Borrowers, the All of Kind Family, Mary Poppins, ( who was pretty different from the movie version!), Daddy Long Legs. Like old friends or a cup of cocoa. (I”m too old for a blankie) And I still find Georgette Heyer at her best was hilarious and could juggle plot complications like no one else. A couple of Mary Stewart’s hold up superbly.

  8. Everything that stays on my shelves is something I would potentially reread, given endless reading time, of course. It does’t sound much like a comfort read but every year I reread IT by Stephen King and yes, it’s scary, but it also makes me feel good. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Francie’s love of reading always makes me want to read the library A-Z. I first read my grandmother’s copy when I was about twelve and finally found someone who loved books as much as I did. Yesterday I saw a blog post listing a half dozen “scary books you should read this month” and when I saw Brendan Duffy’s House of Echoes listed I realized just how much I love his books – and that book was just there waiting for me to read and enjoy again.

  9. I know I’m in the no camp above, but I have been rereading some this year. I’ve reread the first three Trixie Belden books. The other rereading I’ve done has been for review (and again, kid’s books).

    I absolutely agree there is something comfortable and fun about going back and revisiting old friends. I’ve usually forgotten the details. I’ll remember the big events but forgotten how they got there. It’s wonderful.

    Then there’s Trixie Belden #3. When I was rereading that last month, I discovered there were many scenes I could have quoted. That’s one of the books I’ve reread the most.

  10. I’ve reread lots of books, especially lately. My mother died last year, and going through her books was an eye-opener. She wasn’t a big reader herself, but she encouraged me to read. One of the books I found was Great Short Stories of the World, a volume she had gotten me when I was about ten. I didn’t appreciate it then, and it sat on her bookshelf for approximately 55 years. Now, though? It’s amazing! Stories by Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, James Thurber, Pearl Buck, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and on and on. Thanks, Mom! I also reread things that make me laugh or feel good, give me comfort, take me back…oh, there are a million reasons I reread books. They’re friends.

  11. I seldom re-read books because there are so many books I haven’t read that I want to. Once in a while I feel I have read too many “meh” books and need something I know is good. And I occasionally re-read a Sherlock Holmes or an Agatha Christie for the comfort and familiarity.

  12. I dare not reread as I will have all of you authors I owe ARC reviews to unhappy with me!

  13. During the pandemic, I’ve found rereading books a comfort. I want to know how things end and laugh along the way. Everything from Debbie Macomber to JD Robb with Jayne Ann Krentz’s books in there, too. I’ve bought new books that sound interesting. The ones of those I keep rereading are RJ Blain’s–she really loves puns. I like the fact that her books aren’t in the real world–I’m not liking the real world a lot right now.

  14. Yes. There are some books that I love to read again. I find different angles in the stories depending on my state of mind. It is like visiting an old friend. (Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen Mysteries, Mary Alice Monroe Beach House series)

  15. I reread books all the time – in fact, sometimes they feel ‘new’ because second or third time around I notice things I missed before, when I was chasing the plot only. I have go-to books for comfort (the entire Sue-Grafton Alphabet series, for example) or Bill Bryson’s Small Island when I get homesick, or Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones when I need a reminder of why I’ve chosen to be a writer… Books are like a circle of friends to me, there’s an inner circle of trusted beloveds and various newcomers who may or may not last past their first reading. I enjoy them all!

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