I'm a big re-reader. Always have been. And not just for a few select favorites. No, if it’s on my bookshelf, odds are I’ve read it more than once (probably more than thrice, if I’m being real honest). To me, it’s like re-watching a movie or TV show (something else I can do ad nauseam).
The first time through, I’m there for the main characters. I might notice some of the quirks of the supporting cast, but the focus is on the primary plot. After that, reading the story becomes a little bit like going to a class reunion. I’m really excited to see the main characters again. I remember everything I loved about them in that rosy, nostalgic, last-day-of-school sort of way. Occasionally, after awhile I also remember the little things they did to annoy me. The moments where I wanted to shake them and say, Pull yourself together! And like any reunion, I inevitably run into a few who make me think, But, you always seemed so cool….like you had everything together. You’re really a mess. Huh.
Overall, though, it’s just great to hang with the old gang again for a little while.
Still, they’re not the only ones I’m there for. I also want to chat with the people who I only knew a little. I mean, I noticed they were there, we might have had a few random run-ins, but we were all busy with our own things. I was running around with the main characters, they were doing their thing in their secondary plot lines…. There was a lot going on. No one’s fault. But now we have a chance to get to know each other a little better. And every once in awhile, I find a couple best-ies in this group (Hobbie Klivian and Remus Lupin spring to mind), who keep me coming back to his or her scenes to reminisce.
By the time I get to the third or fourth read, I’m finally taking note of people I barely realized were there the first couple times around.
You didn’t know I existed? I didn’t know you existed! Man, how have we not been friends forever? We really need to stay in touch. Here’s my number. Call anytime. Oh, and, have a nice summer.
Most of us, of course, will not stay in touch. We’ll go back to comfortably ignoring each other. But, on certain rare occasions I’ll give them a quick smile, fondly remembering that one time we chatted.
There are also the cases where I think, Man, you’re a jerk. No wonder we weren’t friends. (I’m looking at you, Blaise Zabini.)
The point is, for me, at least, that every time I go back to a book I’ve already read, there’s someone or something new. Sometimes it’s something that I honestly never noticed before – a location description, a character trait, a line of dialogue. Other times, I remember everything that happens, but my interpretation of it is different given where I am in my life at that moment.
Regardless of what brings on the new insights, I highly recommend going back and re-reading at least a few of your own books. Who knows what you’ll find?