The Comfort of Reading Books More Than Once
To that effect, I have favorite “comfort” books I read over and over. This never ceases to surprise my husband, who has never been much of a reader. Both my kids do the same thing, though, and I laugh a little to myself every time I see my daughter check a book she’s read at least 20 times out from the library once again.
When I was a child, my parents moved us around a lot and the one stable thing I had in my possession was my collection of paperbacks. I read Judy Blume, Lois
Duncan, Christopher Pike, and the Sweet Valley High series over and over and over. Now, my collection has progressed somewhat, although I don’t have as many. Elin Hilderbrand’s books top my list of comfort reads—especially The Blue Bistro. Opening the pages of one of her novels instantly transports me to a place I long to visit, Nantucket, Mass. When I reread Jodi Picoult’s novels I often pick up on hints that I previously missed.
I guess for me, I like to slip back into familiar books the way I would slip into a cozy old sweater. I feel like I know the characters by heart—like I’m part of their world, entrenched in the lives and their homes. I often stumble across things I missed in previous readings—mostly because I was in a rush. I like to revisit books where I know what’s going to happen and don’t have to put a lot of thought into what I’m reading, much like the way I’d rather order up my favorite cupcake than take a chance on trying a new flavor. In this article I found in The New York Times, the writer says “Going back to a book is a way of daring that past self to find new evidence for that old love."
And did you know that researchers believe reading a book a second time can have emotional benefits? On a first read, readers are focused on what is happening in the story—the main events. On the second read, one can savor the emotions ignited by the book more deeply. This happened to me when I read The Help by Kathryn Stockett a second time. I was in such a rush to finish the book the first time I didn’t connect with it on as deep of a level as I did the second time, when I became filled with anger, sadness, defiance, grief, and triumph.
When I read the book Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan again as an adult, after having moved through my high school and teenage years, I read the pages with a more seasoned viewpoint of things. I’ve had teachers and professors that used “tough love” as a way to make me a better writer. It made the central death in the novel all the more poignant, and senseless. I hope to one day publish a book that others will enjoy reading more than once, too.
Do you have any books you read over and over again? Share your favorites in the comments below!
Renee's Pages, for more musings about books and writing.