Repeating Repeating

I’m not the most prolific reader in the world, but I do like to keep a book at hand to read when the fancy takes me. One thing I’ve never done though, is read a book twice (unless looking through lingerie sections in a catalogue as a rampant teenager counts…).

I’ve just started reading The Stand by Stephen King again. I first read it about 10 years ago and even though it took me literally 6 months to wade through the 1400 pages, it still ranks as one of the best books I’ve read. I kept telling myself I’d re-read it again, you know, just to check that it still ranks up there, but I was put off because I’d know what would happen and remember bits of the story.

A bit like re-watching films or TV shows I’ve seen, I hardly ever sit through them again – mainly because the element of the unknown has gone. I’d never be able to recapture the “fucking hell, I didn’t see that coming” moment such as the last few minutes in The Usual Suspects when Kevin Spacey stopped being a gimp (although that is one of the few films I’ve managed to sit through more than once). Similarly, as fantastic as they are/were, I can’t re-watch The Sopranos, The Wire or The West Wing (does all good stuff start with The?). Likewise there are also only so many times that guy in Anchorman can say “I love lamp” until it stops being funny.  I’ve seen it; I know what happens…it’s never as good.

So, anyway, back to the book.  I’m 300 pages in so far and even though I know the outline of the story, I don’t feel like I’m repeating myself yet.  I don’t feel like I’m repeating myself yet.  So I’ll let you know if re-reading something is any good and *does that wanky speech marks thing with fingers that them people do.  You know, THAT thing that makes you want to smash their face in* “gives me a greater understanding of the book”.  Or something.

Given the speed I read and my attention span, I probably won’t finish it until March 2010 anyway, by which point I’ll have forgotten all about this post and why I started re-reading the book in the first place.

I had a better ending to this in my head 10 minutes ago, but I can’t remember what it was now. See what I mean about the attention span?

Don’t worry it wasn’t anything profound or life changing. You’ll live without my wisdom.

Chop chop, move along, nothing to see here…put your chairs on the desks before you leave and NO running inside the building…


11 thoughts on “Repeating Repeating

  1. I have books which I re-read all the time: I have read one book almost every year since I was eleven years old, and before I turn a page I know what the first words will be on the next. I’ve owned about four copies of it, sometimes two at a time so I can lend one out and keep another. It’s currently on a re-read, but I leave it in the bathroom and just pick it up once a week or so in the bath.

    My mum calls them “Comfort Books” and I have about 5 of them which I will always re-read. And some books actually benefit from reading them twice or more: there are often subtle aspects which you missed first time round.

    Summary: good for you, there’s nothing wrong with re-reading if you want to 🙂

  2. Sometimes I re-read a book because of the way the writer writes. Turns of phrase. Lyrical speech. Sometimes it’s the characters or the way they unfold the story. I admire those skills.

    I love the last 4 paragraphs of this post. Think I’ll re-read them.

    deja vue!

  3. Aaah – The West Wing. That does bear repeat watching as there is always stuff in it that you missed first time round.. I confess I am a big re-reader. I see it as visiting old friends and don’t mind not having the element of surprise. Has to be a good book though.

  4. Rosie
    Wow, that must be some book! I might be biting off more than I can chew picking a 1400 pager for a first time re-read. I don’t do things by half :p

    S. Le
    There are some books I can fly through easily because I find the prose so easy to read. Others, even though they are good books, I struggle with at times.

    The last four paragraphs are the best of the whole post.

    Welsh Girl
    I might hunt down The West Wing again now you come to mention it. They don’t make ’em like they used to. Beats the crap that’s on telly nowadays anyway.

  5. I’ve never re-read a book either… until yesterday when I walked past the library and suddenly wanted to read The Chrysalids (John Wyndham) again. I’ve not read since I studied it at secondary school over 10 years ago (how to feel old) and was really pleased to see that my library had one copy and that it was there on the shelves! I started it on the train this morning. Jolly good stuff.

  6. I’ve started to re-read a few books by accident … and then have realized that I’ve read them before (Graham Greene’s stuff is a bad one for me).

    A few things I’ve re-read at different times in my life just to see how I feel about them with a few more years under the belt: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, The Catcher in the Rye, Fifth Business,Dr. Seuss, Playboy, Mad Magazine, …

    Some are completely different while others remain the same.

    • planetross
      My thinking was similar to you ‘would this still be top of my pile’ now I’m older and wiser (supposedly). Alas, I don’t think I’ve got the patience to read it again yet. Give it another 10 years…

  7. I re-read books all the time. I’m a fast reader so if I wasn’t willing to re-read the books I have either my morning train journeys would be incredibly boring or I would be forced to spend all my money on new books.

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