Reading for (guilty) pleasure: An observation on re-reading

Guilty Pleasures

Guilty Pleasures

This post is (more or less) a continuance of my previous post ‘Reading with intent’, where I discussed my reading plans:

  1. to broaden my reading material in an effort to expand my exposure to different genre’s and hopefully challenge my self as a writer; and
  2. to read ‘like a writer’ – that is, to try and take in the specific tricks, tips, and tools used by other authors to make their writing more interesting, more compelling, and more readable.

So far I think this has gone pretty well (keeping in mind it has only been two months):

  • non-fiction; finished The Right Stuff and Strunk & White’s Elements of Style,
  • classics; Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Fahrenheit 451.
  • on-line literary magazines; Aurealis – Australia Fantasy & Sci-Fi & LampLight – a quarterly ‘Dark Fiction’, and
  • baby-steps into getting some gender balance into my reading; Lauren Beuke’s excellent Broken Monsters.

As to whether my writing has improved… I shall leave that observations to those who choose to read what I put here. 🙂

So what’s all this about re-reading? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of reading with intent?

In my view…  yes and no.

By definition re-reading a story I am certainly not expanding my reading set. I’m going over old, familiar, ground.

But I feel there are three aspects of re-reading are in line with my reading with intent plan:

  1. I only re-read books I like – so why not analyse why I like them.
    Some books I re-read every few years – Lord of the Rings. The Thomas Covenant Chronicles (which I will re-read in December). The Horus Heresy series from the Black Library (the subject of the photo). So on my next re-read of these novels, I intend to turn my mind to why these are so compelling – what is it that makes me come back for a second or third (or ninth, or tenth) time. Hopefully this will inform my own writing in some way.
  2. Re-reading is quick and fun – its like a sugar hit.
    I think one of the best things about re-reading is the speed – being familiar with the story generally means I can finish it in half the time, but still get that satisfying ‘just finished a book’ feeling. That satisfaction keeps me coming back for the next book, and the next, and the next. That said, I think an old favourite novel is like chocolate – excellent as an occasional comforting treat, but dangerous if that is all you ever consume! If all you ever read is Lord of the Rings, then as a writer I expect it would be difficult to produce anything that isn’t wholly derivative of JRR’s masterwork. But going back and revisiting old friends after journeying to different places, different novels… can be an excellent thing to do (particularly at this time of year).
  3. A re-read is a book that’s easy to put down – critical in the very busy silly season.
    December is a time for friends and family, for socialising and talking and such. It is not a time for keeping my nose in a book and grunting at people who interrupt (or so my Mum tells me anyway). So new and exciting books are off limits for the next month – instead I shall content myself with books where I know the end, where I know what’s coming – and where interruptions don’t feel like someone is dragging me out of a movie halfway through.

Is this a month of copping out? Well you might have your own opinion, but I don’t think so. But what the hell, even when stretching myself during reading (outside genre, non-fiction etc.), I read primarily for enjoyment.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Let me know if you have any novels that you keep going back too for another read- anything I should really try?





15 thoughts on “Reading for (guilty) pleasure: An observation on re-reading

    1. Eisenhorn was the first Black Library series i ever read – its in the pile there 🙂

      Abnett & Dembski-Bowden are standouts here – high action sci-fi novels where they still manage to grab you with engaging Characters.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Whole heartedly agree. Rapidly after Eisenhorn, I leapt into Gaunt’s Ghosts, which is just as good. Very addictive series of boxes. Others I tend to reread are Raymond Feist’s series, David eddings Sparhawk series and the Star Wars xwing books. All fantastic!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Apart from the Star Wars books, I’ve read all of those (although I restrict my Feist to the first three – Magician, Silverthorn, Darkness at Sethanon – after this I found the quality dropping). Within the 40k novels I also really like the Caiphas Cain novels – rare humour done well in the grim-dark universe.

        I could(should?) add many more to my re-read list – the Necroscope series from Lumley, Stephen King’s It, The Stand, Tommyknockers & the Dark Tower series… Ahhh such good stuff.

        First re-read is Clive Barker’s ‘Imajica’ – got given an old ‘damaged ready to throw out’ hard-cover copy rescued from a library as a teenager – 20 years on and I am still going back to same book (the same copy). Love it.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I think this is a great idea. I have always devoured books so quickly myself. Now that I am writing, I know I should be reading more intentionally, more critically. I have thought about picking up some of my old favorites as well and analyzing them. Why do I like them so much?

    I have also been studying sentence structure and grammar. I have a well-worn copy of the Elements Of Style next to me right now. Enjoy your December reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was surprisingly entertained by Elements – there is a distinct dry wit present throughout.

      I had to return my copy to my boss who lent it to me, but discovered once putting it on GoodReads that there is a direct link to a free web copy (I figure it is out of copyright). This is awesome, it means I’ll always have a copy close to hand!


      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t reread as much as I used to. In fact, I have found my re-reading seems to serve a psychological need as much as just a desire to revisit an old friend. I need ‘closure’ and a sense of completion from books as much as a good story. It’s why I have such a problem with series (I’m talking to you George R.R. Martin) which never seem to have an end in sight. It is just too exhausting maintaining the suspense.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s