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Rereading.

I was without internet for the first week and a half in my new apartment. This was helpful at first; I unpacked enthusiastically because what else was I supposed to do with myself? (I should mention that for the first two days I also didn’t have a keyboard or mouse because I may or may not have forgotten mine at my parents’ house…) I unpacked and I bought things I needed and I played Mario Kart and I cheerily set about decorating my apartment, but after that was over, I did a lot of reading, or, to be more accurate, a lot of rereading.

I love rereading. Some books I have always loved and will always love, others I didn’t love, but am willing to give a second chance because some books are better when you can understand all their nuances in a way you just can’t when you’re ten. Several of the books now on my bookshelf have been at my parents’ house, away from me, since I left for college, so it’d been years and years since I read them.

Rereading these books was particularly interesting, because the way I read has changed a lot. I want to say it’s since I started writing seriously, but I think it was actually reading critically -- beta reading -- that had more of an effect on how I read published books. I pay more attention to small flaws I never cared about before.

But I remember how much I loved some of these books as a teen -- or younger in some cases, and I was a little apprehensive that I’d be let down. I did notice things in these books that I hadn’t before. One is a 591 page contemporary, and after I finished, I spent a good twenty minutes debating with myself about which of the many interwoven subplots could’ve been cut to tighten up the story a little. Another referred to a well-known New Hampshire landmark by a completely wrong name. A third had dialogue that read sort of stiffly.

But I still enjoyed these books, like I always had, if in a different way, because I told myself that while I could think about those things, I didn’t need to let them mean more than the good things: great premises, great plots, interesting characters, etc. So I think I learned something, about keeping criticism in its place, and not letting it ruin my reading experience, because sometimes a flawed book is not a bad book*.


*as I wrote the last line I felt the need to say: this post is in no way meant to be a criticism of critical reviews, which I think rock.

Kaitlin Ward

Kaitlin Ward is the author of Bleeding Earth, Adaptive Books 2016, and The Farm, coming 2017 from Scholastic.

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6 comments:

  1. I see what you mean about the critique getting in the way of reading. I think for me, I can't read those books from my younger years because my mature brain will not appreciate them on the same level. I might even be too critical. Eh, who knows. I should give it a try at least.

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  2. I love re-reading too! And yes I learn lots from my favourite books :)

    BirthRight The Arrival, on Amazon 1.1.2011
    www.damselinadirtydress.com

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  3. I have certain books I love re-reading. Some I enjoyed, but are not ones that I would consider reading again. Those books I donate or trade with friends.

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  4. Some books I like rereading, but not all of them. I don't like to have to critique while I'm reading, though -if I'm reading and I find a sentence I think should be worded differently, I don't like it. I like to read books, and then go over everything that was good and bad after so I can enjoy the book completely.

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  5. such a great post! I started re-reading SAVING FRANCESCA today. It was like rediscovering it and falling in love for the first time.

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  6. I reread my favorite book every summer (except this summer--GASP!) and I have a traditional Christmastime reread, too. It always amazes me how much more I get out of a book that I've read a dozen times. I recently reread a book that I originally read as a 12-year-old and I noticed all the flaws I hadn't before--but I still love the book.

    Great post! :)

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Item Reviewed: Rereading. Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kaitlin Ward