I’ve probably written about rereading books here before, but it bears talking about again. I can’t understand the people who feel it’s a waste of time — it seems like hubris, to imagine that for every book you read, you get absolutely everything out of it on the first try and never need to read it again. I’m an English Literature grad, and I wouldn’t claim that — and in my Natural Sciences degree, I wouldn’t presume to think I understood most papers until a third or fourth reading, though granted they tend to be technical.
I mean, that’s the fancy excuse for rereading: I want to get everything I can out of it. (And for some books that’s definitely true: I’m still getting new stuff out of The Lord of the Rings and The Dark is Rising to chew over now, and I don’t know how many times I’ve read them.) It’s a good reason, but honestly, I don’t want it to eclipse the real reason I might reread a book: because I feel like it. Because I want to revisit that world. Because it was just that good the first time and I want to re-experience it. Because I need to refresh my mind before I read the sequel.
I mean, if you don’t enjoy rereading, then that’s one thing — but if it’s just because there’s so many books and so little time, well, that’s going to be true whether you reread or not. If you feel like rereading, why not? Again it comes down to the principle I keep reminding myself of: I read for fun. I don’t read to hold the record of the most unique books read in a single lifetime, or have an impressive list of all the classics checked off. What’s the point?
There is a flipside: you can read a book until it’s too predictable, too worn through in your mind. The best books can survive this, but even a good book can get a bit threadbare. (Good Omens, I’m looking at you.) But then it’s not so fun anymore, so the fun principle still holds.
So yeah. For my money, go reread books until your physical copies are floppy and faded with age and they fall open on your favourite bits. Talk about books you’ve reread until people are sick of hearing about it (I won’t get sick of hearing about it). Take any excuse if rereading is something you enjoy. You don’t owe those other books a thing.