Re-reading books…still a thing?

Do you double dip? Honestly?

Since I’ll be moving in a few months I decided to get serious about downsizing early. This way I’d have plenty of time to make careful, smart choices without the last minute rush of pitching or keeping. One of these areas has been my pretty extensive collection of books.

Now since forever I’ve always wanted to have a large and varied collection of the books I’ve read and loved. So when I moved into my current place I had (literally) 54 book boxes and about 10 or so “other” boxes including my kitchen, bathrooms, bedroom, and office stuff. So it’s fair to say I have a lot of books.

Sadly over the past 5 years I’ve noticed that I rarely, if ever, read a book again. I used to re-read books ALL THE TIME. I can’t stress this enough. I used to read books so many times that the spines would fall apart and I’ve had to repurchase them. I even started buying hardbacks thinking they’d last longer.

Yet in the recent years I feel overwhelmed with the amount of reading choices. There are so many books out there I’m not reading that I almost never go to my wonderful and beloved current collection. There is always a book waiting for me to read it – either purchased or library – so the thought of re-reading a book I already own just doesn’t appeal for the most part. Even with books I love, love, love so much that I wished never ended.


Part of it is definitely mental.

What if I don’t love the book so much the second time around?
What if that ruins how I think about the book?


Other times I find that when I re-read a book I’m skimming, moving over the book I know so well for the “good” parts or the scenes I really like. Then I’m not reading so much as skipping through for a cliffs notes version of it.

However the biggest reason I no longer re-read beloved books is that there are so many new books out there to experience and read. I have a list of 95 books I want to read by the end of this year – classics and new releases – and I’m excited about every single one of them. As much as I loved a previous book, I find that I look forward to the ones I want to read now.

So I’ve been carefully culling my extensive collection and off they go to new homes where hopefully someone discovers them for the first (if only) time. It makes me sad but I also know it’s so unlikely I’d pick them up again.

What about you….do you re-read books, really?
Do you have time?
Do you feel overwhelmed by all the new books coming out constantly?



23 thoughts on “Re-reading books…still a thing?

  1. Tam says:

    Other times I find that when I re-read a book I’m skimming, moving over the book I know so well for the “good” parts or the scenes I really like.

    This. I rarely re-read a book start to finish like I did the first time. It is a favourite for certain parts (and not just sex scenes LOL). I didn’t love 250 pages of it. I loved the part where X happened and when Y happened and when he said Z to Guy A. So I go back and skim to the parts that evoke the feeling of why I loved the book. I reread a LOT of e-books, well, a fair number. Mostly when I’m in a slump and nothing new appeals.

    Paper books, almost never except some classics like my Agatha Christie compendium, James Herriot or something like that. I have been pretty faithful about getting rid of books that I no longer read. Right now, I’d probably have about 3 boxes of books and that includes way too many cook books and other kind of reference books like science books/dictionaries. As for “fiction” books, probably a good sized box and if I was moving, there would be less. I’d get rid of some of them that I know I’ll never read again.

    So yes, I reread, but not paper books. Those are pretty much all gone except classics or signed books.

    • It’s interesting to note that this seems to be a trend. That e-books are re-read more often then paper books. If you had the same e-books in paperback, would you re-read them as often?

      • Tam says:

        I doubt it. I have developed the bad habit of reading while doing other things on-line. I will read for 5-10 min, check a couple of things, read a bit, check a few things, so I doubt I would pick up a paper book, then put it down and check on-line and so on. Healthy? Maybe not but it seems to be working for me, mostly.

  2. pattysplayhouse says:

    I remember when we moved from New Jersey to Nevada, I had big tote containers of books, I had to carefully go through each one to decide which ones that I would be taking with me. I was heartbroken that I had to let go of any of them.

    I’m always re-reading books. I find myself skimming over to get to the good parts too. Sometimes I will just re-read the parts that I like the most.

    It’s very hard to keep up with all the new books that keep coming out everyday. I don’t even try anymore. All I can say is thank goodness for places like Goodreads, and Library Thing that archive them. Makes it easier to find out what is new from my favorite authors.

    • Oh god archiving. I used to try to archive titles I wanted to read but then I got lazy and it seemed like too much work so I let it go. Now I have no clue when my favorite authors publish – I used to LOVE the constant e-publishing schedule but now I wish it was back to once a year – so I could keep up.

      Talking about this makes me want to revisit some of my favorites but then again I’m already listening to 2 books on tape while reading 2 physical books and one book. So no, probably not.

  3. Amanda says:

    I recently was searching for one single paperback and had to go through all my boxes to try and find it. These boxes were full of books that I at one time regularly re-read but I now have no desire to re-read. I am still an avid re-reader but I am much more picky about what I want to re-read. Time is to precious to spend it with a book I just liked.
    It is still sad to see the books go though

    • I’m so very sad to let my books go. I’ve mostly been selling them on ebay for about 50c a book (my net profit … woohoo). But it makes me feel better that they’re going to book lovers that want to read (or keep!) the book.

      I tried giving them away but mostly I found that difficult and people didn’t really value the books. I may not re-read them but they’re still something important to me.

  4. I have a room of bookshelves filled with books. I have bookshelves in the living room and master bedroom, both filled with books. 🙂 I collect books. I can’t get away from it. I’m slowly buying up the young adult titles I loved as a teen.

    But, there are books I reread almost yearly. I almost prefer it over new books. I have plenty of new books to read… hundreds of ebooks languishing on my hard drive, but when I’m in the mood for something good, I reach for an old favorite. Those seem tried and true. I know that I’ll be excited the entire time I’m reading it, rather than cursing poor storytelling or bad editing or annoying tropes. These are beloved books I’ve read, enjoyed, and keep. 🙂 So, yep, I reread them. I rarely throw a book away. Every time we move, there are more boxes of books added to the pile.

    • I used to collect books, so I’m so with you. But I’ve been moving too much all my life to always keep all the books I wanted. I finally have had to put a stop when it’s overwhelmed my place and I was thinking “is there room for more books or does the dog REALLY need a bed?” I wish I re-read more. I sometimes miss that excitement of the great books I just LOVED so much.

      Sometimes I think I age out of books or simply my tastes change and the subject isn’t as appealing. Some are timeless for sure but I do notice that I tend to read a genre to death, then rarely go back. Do you have that or are all your books timeless?

      • I’ve moved a lot in my life, too, so I completely understand. Since I was five, I’ve moved about 30 or 40 times. I’ve rarely spent more than a year or two in any one place. I think this current apartment is the first one in a long time I’m actually planning a third year in. XD And that’s mainly due to not wanting to bother with the expense and stress of packing and unpacking.

        I don’t think any of the books I keep are ones I lose interest in. Then again, I only buy paper books I know I’ll keep until they fall apart. Same with my husband. Though, yes, some I keep out of nostalgia. I have the Anne Rice and Laurel K. Hamilton books, but I have little interest in rereading them, but I keep them nonetheless. Not sure why. XD Probably because I have fond memories of when I did love them, when I read them the first time. Or, in the case of The Black Jewels trilogy, I keep them as a reminder of how NOT to write a book. 😉

        • Blasphemer.
          Don’t knock The Black Jewels! I still own that trilogy! I don’t read it but I can’t quite part with it. I’m debating getting rid of my LKH collection since I can’t stand reading or even re-reading her anymore but I have re-read them many times in the past.

          I do love so many of my books but there are definitely themes and genres I don’t read anymore. I think you were more careful in your selection of purchased books. I used to buy anything that looked remotely interesting or I also tended to collect an author’s entire backlist. So when I was sick of the author .. oops.. lots of books.

          • XD I still own it, too. It has some awesome moments, some great male characters I fell in love with, but over all? I just… there were serious issues I had with it and the main female characters.

            I am careful, for the most part. I did go on a recent buying binge where I bought some books I wasn’t 100% sold on. Unfortunately, I’ve not had much time to read the new acquisitions. I actually become pretty sad over books that I read that I know are not good for re-reads. I like spending money on books I can enjoy over and over.

        • Moved 30 times??????? Good gracious! I know no one that has moved so many times. I am 36 and moved only once. From my parents place to my appt.

          As for the re-reading I already said on twitter I do that a lot. It is easy as the books are on my reader.
          And I don’t have a TBR. I buy a few books and than I read them. After that I wait for the next few books that catch my eye. In the mean time I re-read my books.

          • I’m so impressed with your self control. I always want to read more books than I have time/desire for.

            I’ve moved at least 23 times, maybe more, myself so I know what SL is going through.

          • A lot of moving happened in my childhood. My father had a seriously difficult time keeping up with a mortgage. 🙂 So, we moved around quite a bit. As an adult, I’ve been bouncing around trying to find someplace that feels like home to me. Have yet to find it. I’d like to not move again until I leave the state in another year or two. 🙂

  5. There are some books I re-read from time to time, cover to cover. Some books I read in print and then listen to on audio and even then I might re-read or re-listen. There are some books I want to re-read or think I will at some point but haven’t yet and there are some where I just read my favourite parts – like Tam said – to evoke the feeling I had when I first read the book.

    And, absolutely I am overwhelmed by the amount of books coming out and the massive size of my current TBR but I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to books – the only ones I don’t keep are the ones I didn’t like (except if they’re part of a set – then I have to keep them all!). OCD!! 🙂

    Sometimes I wish I could use a “book patch” and “read” overnight so that I could remember the experience of reading a book without having to actually do it – then I might have a snowball’s chance of whittling my TBR down. (Doesn’t stop me from getting new books though!).

    • Hahaha .. I *so* know that feeling. I used to consider listening to books in my sleep as a way of crossing it off my list (after all I did “read” it … kind of. My subconscious counts right?) I find that re-reading books is sometimes enjoyable but I feel so much more satisfaction to cross something off the TBR. Like I’ve done something tangible.

      I think that’s actually a horrible mindset and don’t recommend it but it’s really how I feel. Sad huh.

      I also keep books compulsively because you never know! You may want that exact book one day.

  6. I do reread, for comfort or… when I feel overwhelmed by reading choices. 🙂 I’ve read the PsyCop series at least three times and I suspect I’ll reread it many more.

    What if I don’t love the book so much the second time around?
    What if that ruins how I think about the book?

    Interestingly, this only seems to apply to the paper books I have – the ones that I saved so I’d remember that I loved them. They’ve become such a THING that I’m terrified I’ll reread them and be all “wtf was I thinking?!”

    Also, sometimes books have a powerful impact on us because of when and why we read them. You’re not going to be in that same place when you reread, so yes, I think you do risk the chance of diluting the impact.

    • Yanno I adore the PsyCop series but I haven’t ever re-read them. I don’t know why. I should but I just haven’t. I also love JCP’s other vamp series (Wild Bill) and I don’t know why I haven’t re-read those either. Maybe I will now that you’ve mentioned it.

      Also your last statement is so very true. I can think of several books (Amy Lane for example) that I may not love so much the second time around and I kind of don’t want to risk it.

  7. Tracy says:

    I always say I’m going to reread but I rarely do. There are so many new books coming out that I just can’t find it in myself to pick an already read book up…mist of the time.

    Now, that being said, I just started rereading The Iron Duke by Meljean Beook again yesterday. This is because I want to read books 2 & 3 in the series and want to remind myself of all of the characters. My memory is just not that good. Lol

    • Yanno I used to be so good at re-reading prior books in a series to catch up on details and remember how much I enjoyed them. Now I just give up and read the sequels hoping I’ll remember (not so much). I think I stopped when I was trying to re-read like 15 Eve Dallas books.

      I hear the Iron Duke is wonderful and I should check that out.

      • Well I opened book 2 of the Iron Seas series and started reading. I wasn’t COMPLETELY lost, but enough that I felt like I needed to go back and reread. I’m so glad I did because there were a lot of details I would have missed otherwise. And of course, the book is so good it was worth the time spent rereading. 🙂

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