Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Read it Again

My children can watch the same film over and over and over again. Usually something by Disney. They even watch the same few episodes of their favourite TV shows time after time. I think I've seen every episode of Autin and Ally and I hate it with a passion and tend to leave the room when it comes on, but it is repeated so often that those little minutes I've had the misfortune to witness probably add up to the entire first series. (Please tell me they cancelled it after one series? They cancelled No Ordinary Family and that was brilliant.)

Unless a TV programme or film is extremely good I rarely see the need to watch it more than once a decade. If it's a comedy I've already heard all the jokes; if it's action or drama, I know what happens in the end.

A book is a bit different, though. Have you noticed how much more you get out of a book when you read it through a second time? OK, so the grand dénouement ending may not have the same impact, but in a really well-written book those little allusions, signposts and ironies can be so much more effective. I'm currently re-reading Wool by Hugh Howey (do I mention often enough how great it is?) and I'm on the section where Jahns and Marnes are just beginning their journey to the down deep to speak to Jules. Knowing now what happens to them it's giving me the chills reading about their thoughts and conversations, and picking up all the foreshadowings and the predictions which I was completely oblivious to on the first read-through. And the knitting metaphor that's woven (sorry) throughout the book!  I completely missed it the first time. When Jahns speculates that the entire silo would unravel without her I gasped at the masterfulness of Howey's writing.

Books are much more detailed and intricate than movies, and most good ones improve on a second read-though. So don't just consign that book to a shelf, or give it away: go back to it a few months later and see just how much more enjoyment you can get from it.*

* Note: Especially applies to scriptures. I must have read the New Testament about fifty times, but just today I read a couple of fantastic verses in 2 John that I swear weren't there last time.


  1. I usually don't like reading a book more than once. But when I find one that I would read again, it stays on my bookshelf. That's how I decide if a book is a keeper or not. Because, unfortunately, I don't have an infinite amount of space for all the books I've ever read!

    1. Same here! If I enjoyed a book enough for one read and I don’t think I’d pick it up again, I pass it on to someone else. :-)

  2. I don't usually read a book twice either. However, with movies...I can watch Phantom and Les Mis once a year. Sometimes more.



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