Rereading: do you do it? How do you do it? More importantly, why do you do it? Why does anyone do it? Why wouldn’t anyone do it? All these questions and probably more will be answered, or at least rambled on in some fashion, in this week’s discussion. Grab your time-honored favorite romance novels, and a seasonally appropriate beverage, because this week, we are going down that road…again.
Ask any two romance readers what counts as re-reading, and you’ll likely get two different answers. Not completely different, because, well, how hard can it be to define re-reading? As with many things in the reading life, the answer is, or can be, “more than you’d think.” But we’ll get to that. For the purposes of this discussion, rereading means reading any part of any book for not the first time ever. So, plowing through an entire twelve-book series for the dozenth time? Re-reading. Searching for that one scene (you know the one – the one with the grapes, or the one that takes place in that place, or when the person finds out about the thing and/or the other person, etc. Yeah, that one0 that you have read a billion times, and let’s be honest, are going to read a billion more. The book automatically opens there on its own, it’s been so many times. Also re-reading. Skimming through a previous book, to find all those hidden clues that Person A is also Person B, and was, the whole darned time? Re=reading once again.
Now that we have that settled, let’s get into the whys and wherefores. For all of those different types of re-reading listed above, there is a pretty large headcount for readers who have done all of the above, and do so, for that matter, on an ongoing basis. There is also a sizeable population of those for whom romance reading is one and done. Some of these people may be bookeepers by trade, but their bookshelves, be they concrete or virtual, are kept lean and mean, TBRs only, and then time to share the wealth.
We re-readers (I am proudly one) love these non-re-readers, because they are a wonderful source of new books to read. If I were to sift through my keeper boxes, I would find some of the oldest books adorned on the front inside page with “Firstname, year of publication, real good.” How else could baby romance reader me have found many of the books I would come to read time and again, but from flea markets and used bookstores? Firstname, wherever you are, thank you. Your unbroken spines always give me a thrill, even now. May you always enjoy the newest reads and may they always find their ways into willing hands afterwards.
This topic is pertinent, because, only a little while ago, I found myself combing the shelves of my local library, stressed and tired, and wanting a really good take-me-away historical romance (Calgon optional, but highly encouraged) without having to do the work of getting to know a whole new crew of protagonists-to-be, or count backwards from that book that looked interesting on the shelf, check Goodreads, and make sure that I did my homework, so I could begin at the beginning. (Yes, I absolutely do need to read in order. I read a classic series of medievals out of order when I was aforementioned baby romance reader, and am still scarred from those few pages where I thought the hero of the previous book was cheating on his heroine. He was not, as they were actually the leads in the next book, not the previous one, and had not yet met.)
I digress. The point is, I wanted a sure thing, a book where, to quote the theme song from a classic sitcom, everybody knows my name. Something I’d read before, but only once, so that it would still be kind of new, and from an author I knew would deliver the goods. Not too familiar, but not too new, either. The first in the series, for sure, or a standalone, because that old scar does run deep, and still throbs when I pick up a book whose series placement is in question. A period I know, at least a comfortable amount, I visited a lot of old friends and passing acquaintances as I read back cover copy and petted illustrations by the score, but, at last, I left with a comfortably sized trade paperback in my arms, heroine posed valiantly on the cover, ready to take me through her and her hero’s adventure, once again.
So far, I’ve only been able to dip into the first chapter, said heroine still a wee lass, but it’s like settling into a warm bubble bath (which may or may not be literally how I read said chapter.) Both are a private indulgence, and, while I may know where this journey will take me, that only means that I will be able to stop and smell the roses whenever I choose.
So, dear readers, I turn it now over to you. Do you like to reread favorite romance novels? Why, or why not? Does the genre matter? Is rereading only for brushing up on a series when a new entry is imminent, or is it a particular pleasure all its own. Some of the above? All? None? Pull up a chair in the comment section and tell us all about it. There’s room at this table for everyone.