Posted by: Jeanie F | October 25, 2009

Rereading – Can We Go Home Again?

My experience with rereading The Turn of the Screw, coupled with Jamye’s ( comment to my review, has made me think about how and why some books hold their place in our hearts over time, maybe even improve with rereading years later, and others don’t. It certainly speaks to our ability to relate to elements of a particular text at the particular time in our own lives that we’re reading it.

For example, as I mentioned in my “Return of the Screw” posting, Atlas Shrugged had a huge impact on me when I read it in high school. I was so intrigued by the theme of self-determination, the quest for excellence, the themes of objectivism and self-reliance. I was at a stage in my life where I was developing my own personal philosophy and world view, and it was the ’60s. Government was “Big Brother” (admittedly, 1984 was another favorite), the rights of the individual should prevail above all others.

Last year, living through the detritus left behind by a government that over-promoted corporate rights and the influence of profit motive, it seemed like a good time to return to Rand and see how she held up over time. For me, not too well.

Have you ever gone back to reread any old favorites? Which ones still work? Which don’t? (See my response to Jamye’s comment for my list)


  1. Can’t say that I’m a big re-reader… The only time I ever re-read is when I pick up a Grisham book and can’t remember if I’ve read it before. I read the first chapter and if it hits me as familiar… I set it aside. That happens a lot.

  2. I love re-reading my favorites, it’s like visiting an old friend. Usually they still have the same impact on me but I just notice little nuances that escaped my attention before. Or I’ll change my mind about a character’s motives or sympathize with one that I didn’t understand before.

  3. I almost never re-read a book because there are always so many new ones I can’t wait to get to. The closest I come to re-reading is taking them off the shelf and reading a random paragraph in the middle to refresh how I felt when I read it the first time. Then, while thinking “I should read this again,” I look at my “to be read” pile and end up choosing something new.

  4. I know what you mean – I have shelves of “to be read” books, but every now and then it’s fun to re-read an old favorite.

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