Share Your Story: Rereading Old Favorites

Summer is coming! Are you excited about summer reading yet? Our theme for Adult Summer Reading this year is "Share Your Story," and you can learn more about the challenges and prizes at our website. (The "Share Your Story" program is just for grown-ups -- if you're looking for summer reading for children or teens, that's a different page.) Whatever else this summer brings, don't forget to take some time for yourself and your books!

If you're taking part in the adult summer reading challenge, one of the many ways you can participate is by rereading a favorite book. Rereading is sometimes a controversial topic, and people often have strong opinions. On the one side is the "so many books, so little time!" argument: if you have a limited number of books you're capable of reading, doesn't it make more sense to read new ones rather than going back to ones you've already read? And on the other side is the argument that you can appreciate a book better, or at least differently, if you read it more than once. As Vladimir Nabokov once wrote: "A good reader, a major reader, an active and creative reader is a rereader."

Of course, not all books are destined to be reread, and that's okay! Some suspense novels lose their savor if you already know the twist; some books just don't hold up to leisurely scrutiny. Sometimes even our favorites disappoint us. It's not unusual to realize, years later, that the books that spoke to us deeply were also  interwoven with racist, sexist, homophobic, colonialist, or other bigoted ideologies. It can be painful to look more closely at stories we loved uncritically when we knew less about the hurt they caused. Sometimes it's only that the reader keeps growing, and the book remains the same. The story that is most meaningful to you when you are ten or twenty or thirty-five may not be the same as the story that is most meaningful to you at fifty or seventy or ninety.

If you're casting about for inspiration, you might like to consider some classic childhood favorites. Or maybe you'll want to revisit the bestsellers of yesteryear. Or maybe you'd be interested to know what books your librarians personally most enjoy returning to, again and again!

Whether you're a frequent rereader or you never return to a book once it's finished, I hope you'll give yourself permission to enjoy rereading at least one book this summer. While you're at it, wear your most comfortable outfit, eat a dessert you know you love, and call your oldest friend! Familiarity doesn't have to breed contempt. And don't forget to cross off the square for "reread a favorite book" when you're done!