Have you ever bought or borrowed a book, either because it looked interesting, or because a friend recommended it, and then found that you’ve actually read it before?
That happened to me recently. I was exchanging emails and blog comments with my friend Becca, because I’d mentioned that one of my favorite books to re-read was Bread Alone. She suggested I might like The Whole World Over, by Julia Glass. Later that weekend, I bought a copy at the local used bookstore, in hardcover, for under $5.
That evening in the bubble bath, I cracked open the book, only to find the opening pages eerily familiar. Sure, there’d been a sense of deja vu when I’d looked at the cover in the store, but I’d just assumed I’d seen similar cover art. Nevertheless, I began reading the book anew.
And the thing is, I don’t mind this sort of rediscovery. I remember that I’d enjoyed the book the first time I’d read it, but I read very quickly, so there are times when, depending on my mood in the moment, certain things catch my attention differently. Example: When I was little, and read Little Women for the first time, the part that I cried through was when Beth died. When I read it again as a young adult, who’d had some experience with love and relationships, I was moved by the scene where Jo refuses Laurie, because on one level, we want these two brash kids to be together, but anyone who’s had a best friend of the opposite gender knows that those relationships never work when they cross into romance.
The Whole World Over, then, is going to remain my “bathtub book” for the next couple of weeks. I know the story well enough that I don’t need to race through it to see what happens, but that doesn’t mean I won’t appreciate a slow, savoring read of it while I soak in lavender-scented bath bubbles.
What about you? Do you ever “re-discover” a book? Do you embrace the situation, or feel cheated out of a new story?
I rarely re-read books – but only because there are so many I have not read waiting in my stacks. I used to do exactly what you did, though – buy a book only to discover I’d read it already! That happens less since I began book blogging because I keep a reading journal which helps me remember what I’ve read and when.
I loved that book! Maybe I should reread it…in the bathtub!
I agree with you about how rereading books at different points in our lives brings a different interpretation or meaning to the book.
For that reason, I’ve been buying books lately to reread…books I read a lifetime ago. Like Gone with the Wind.
Thanks for the topic!
Here’s MY SUNDAY SALON POST and
Oh yes, that happens, but hardly with books that I gave a five star rating. The advice given may be a reason to read it again. Could be I just missed something.
I’m glad that turned out alright, and that you didn’t hate the book the first time around! I think I mentioned to you that I listened to that book on audio the first time, and then bought it and read a couple of months later. I’m even thinking about reading it AGAIN, after all this talk!
I re-read books quite often, and do discover different things each time. The most notable experience I recall is reading Sue Miller’s The Good Mother when it was first published. I was not a mother then, and was very sympathetic with the main character who finds herself somewhat lost in motherhood and looking for ways to retain her identity. I read the novel again about 25 years later after raising a child, and had far less sympathy for her and her reactions. In fact, I was pretty mad at her sometimes. The perspective of age and experience can make the reader see things entirely different.
That has happened to me many times. I’ve read books long ago, before I reviewed everything I read, and then set them aside and rediscovered them years and years later.
My mom did this all the time. She said she never remembered the plots of books and loved to reread them as it always felt like a brand new book to her.
I’m glad this has been a good discovery for you. I’ve found that the books I re-read (by mistake, not realizing I’ve read them before) tend to be books that I found forgettable the first time around.
That happens very rarely for me. Although I do forget which books I read sometimes after I have read them (thus the reason I started keeping a reading log several years prior to blogging). But once I see the title (or cover) I’m pretty good about remembering. I have been guilty of buying duplicates of books that I haven’t read yet.
There are some I would love to accidentally find again – especially one very cool book I read as a teen about a girl living in an old house for the summer, seeing a ghost (who sang greensleeves) and then she slipped back in time to when the ghost girl was alive. Why couldn’t I ever find that book again? :)