Ah, the smell of freshly printed pages or the simple tap of a screen that flips the digital leaf on your e-reader. Reading is an immersive experience that takes us to different worlds, timelines, and perspectives. But what about revisiting those worlds? Have you ever reread a book? You’re certainly not alone if you’re sitting there nodding your head. But if you’re shaking it, hey, you’ve got a crowd on your side too!
Digging into the realm of reading habits reveals intriguing dichotomies. On one hand, some find immense joy in revisiting the literary landscapes they’ve previously explored. On the other, some are ever-eager to set sail to uncharted narrative waters, never looking back. Both camps have unique reasons, ranging from deeply nuanced to refreshingly simple. Let’s delve into why some individuals relish rereading favorite books while others are captivated by the prospect of fresh adventures in new reads.
Team “Yes, I’ve Reread Books!”
The Sentimental Journey
For many, rereading is like revisiting an old friend. You get to relive the emotions and maybe even discover new facets of a character you overlooked. “Each time you reread, you find something new; it’s like a different book,” says Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson. And she has a point; our perspectives change as we grow older, allowing us to appreciate different aspects of the same story.
The Ultimate Comfort Zone
In a 2019 survey by the Pew Research Center, 72% of American adults said that they have read a book in the past 12 months. But how many reread their favorites? Well, although statistics on rereading are scarce, anecdotal evidence shows a strong trend. People find comfort in the familiar, especially in stressful times. As famed writer and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. But if it’s been written and it comforts you, perhaps rereading is the key to solace.”
A New You, A New View
American philosopher and educational reformer John Dewey noted, “We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” And isn’t that true for rereading a book? The you who read ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ as a teenager is different from the you reading it in your thirties, forties, or beyond. With life experience, you might find Holden Caulfield either more relatable or more whiny than you remembered.
Team “No, Never Reread!”
So Many Books, So Little Time
The world is brimming with literary options. According to estimates, over 2.2 million new books are published globally each year, not to mention the nearly 130 million existing books. The enormity of this literary universe makes the idea of rereading seem counterproductive. As the saying goes, “Life is short, but the list of books to read is long.” Faced with such abundance, it’s easy to see why some people might prefer to continuously explore new titles rather than revisit old ones.
The Element of Surprise
You can only be shocked once at the plot twist in ‘Gone Girl’, or experience firsthand suspense in ‘And Then There Were None’. “The first draft is black and white. Editing gives the story color,” says bestselling author Emma Chase. The same could be applied to reading a book for the first time; the vividness of a first read is irreplaceable.
FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out
It’s a real thing, guys! In the world of bestsellers, award-winners, and critically acclaimed titles, not reading the latest book can sometimes feel like missing the year’s hottest party. And if you spend time rereading, well, you’re likely missing out on new voices and perspectives. Novelist and critic Martin Amis said, “Time, unfortunately, though a great healer, is also a great waster.” Do you want to spend your precious reading time revisiting old territory?
What Does Science Say?
Some studies suggest that rereading can be beneficial. Psychological Science published a paper highlighting that rereading offers emotional benefits and can be more pleasurable than reading a book for the first time. On the flip side, constantly seeking new information and reading new books can also contribute to intellectual growth and adaptability.
Books by the Numbers
- Total Number of Books: According to Google’s estimate from a few years ago, over 129 million different books have been published. Imagine a lifetime dedicated to reading, and you still couldn’t cover them all!
- World’s Largest Library: The Library of Congress in the United States holds more than 38 million books and other printed materials. Now, that’s what you call a reading list!
- Oldest Known Book: The oldest known printed book is the “Diamond Sutra,” a Buddhist text dated to 868 AD. It was found in a cave in China and is currently held in the British Library.
International Reading Habits
- Iceland: According to a BBC report, Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country. One in ten Icelanders will publish a book in their lifetime. Additionally, the Christmas season is often referred to as the ‘Christmas Book Flood’ due to the tradition of giving books as gifts.
- India: India leads the world in the number of hours spent reading per week, with an average of about 10 hours and 42 minutes, according to the World Culture Score Index.
- USA: A 2019 study by Pew Research Center indicated that about 72% of American adults read a book in some form over the previous year, whether it was print, e-book, or audiobook.
- Japan: Japan boasts a unique phenomenon known as ‘Tachiyomi,’ where people stand and read magazines and books in stores without buying them. Despite this, Japan also has a high percentage of book ownership.
- France: France protects its independent bookstores through fixed book pricing, ensuring that large chains or online platforms can’t undercut small retailers. This has helped maintain a vibrant book culture.
- Norway: The Norwegian government purchases 1,000 copies of each book a Norwegian author publishes. It provides 1,550 copies if a children’s book. These are distributed to libraries throughout the country, promoting reading and supporting authors.
- South Korea: The country has a unique concept known as ‘Mung Bean Bookstores.’ These are places where people can read books for free for two hours. For every additional hour, they have to buy a book.
Isn’t the world of books astonishingly diverse? Whether you’re a chronic re-reader or a pioneer of new literary worlds, you’re part of a global community that values the power and pleasure of reading.
In A Nutshell
The habit of rereading books divides opinion like a bookmark splits pages. Each side of the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ coin has its merits and demerits, appealing to emotional and intellectual aspects of human nature. Ultimately, it’s all about personal preference and what you’re hoping to get out of your reading experience.
So, have you ever reread a book? Your answer might be a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but as we’ve discovered today, the reasoning behind it is anything but black and white. Happy reading or rereading, folks!