Next time you can’t decide what to read, take down an old favourite from your bookshelf and re-read it. You’ll be surprised by how comforting and rewarding it is.
Finishing a good book always feels bittersweet. It’s satisfying to get to the end of the story, but it’s sometime’s hard to say goodbye. Luckily, you don’t have to say farewell forever. Leave it a while – a couple of years, perhaps – and then jump back in.
Re-reading a book you love will never be boring. As time passes your outlook on life subtly changes, allowing you to see your favourite books in an entirely new light. Each time you pick it up, be prepared to see something surprising and new – a character you overlooked last time, or just the satisfying realisation that the plot is even better than you remembered.
In times of need, seek solace in a favourite book. Choose one that makes you feel safe and offers the escapism you love. For some people that might be a sweet romance, others a good old fashioned thriller. Allow the the familiar flow of the words to wrap a soothing blanket around your heart. Focusing on the absorbing, yet undemanding, story will ease your anxiety or agitation, leaving you refreshed and restored.
Our favourite books are prisms through we which can view our own lives. You get a fleeting reminder of the first time you read it, the feelings you had at the time, the place you were in. I love grabbing this opportunity to time-travel with both hands. Remind yourself of happy times, sad times and rekindle old memories you’d have otherwise forgotten.
A second chance
Don’t just re-read things you loved. Try again with that book you gave up on halfway through, or the one you struggled to understand. Perhaps you had too much going on in your life last time, or maybe you just weren’t ready for it. Give it another chance. And if you still can’t get on with it, send it to the charity shop and let someone else have a try.
Here a just a few of the many books I like to re-read every few years
The Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard. I first read this wonderful series of books when I was in my late teens. It’s a perfect example of a multi-generational family saga, and it just gets better each time I read it. I identify with different characters depending on my age – every time I pick it up it opens my eyes to something new.
The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith and Weedon Grossmith. No matter how old I am, the diary of Charles Pooter always makes me smile. Last time I read it (about five years ago) I worried that I was a little pooterish my self, but after reading it this week I am surprised to find this was no longer the case.
One Pair of Hands by Monica Dickens. An entertaining little book about a life below stairs in 1930s London. I’m delighted to see this book is back in print, although please don’t be put off by the awful new cover art. It’s so much better than it now looks.
September by Rosamund Pilcher. A great big thick brick of a book which always brings back memories for me. I was re-reading it when I was in early labour with my youngest son and I can never help but remember that night when I pick it up. It’s a comforting and absorbing read, which is probably why I reading it while heavily pregnant. The large cast of richly drawn characters feel like old friends. Actually, I think I feel a re-read is due soon.
Jane Austen. Whenever I pick up a book by Austen I know I will be immediately transported to a different world. As I get older I pick up the little nuances more and marvel at just what a wonderful writer she was. Particular favourites for me are Persuasion and Pride & Prejudice.
There are so many more I could share with you, but I’ll save that for another day. Meanwhile, tell me what books do you like to revisit again and again?