Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Worth a Second Look?

The other night I enjoyed re-watching the first episode of Castle, which I had stored on the DVR player. Funny thing is, I didn't remember much of it, though I'd watched it not long ago. Well, I am a senior, and, at times, forgetful. Also, I tend to watch TV when I'm winding down for the evening. Since I get up so early in the morning, by eight or so I'm in danger of nodding off. Whatever the case, I enjoyed the interplay between the characters, and was glad I decided to watch that episode again, instead of searching for something else on TV.

Last night, I again watched The Net, with Sandra Bullock, and was taken in by the suspense and characterization. I have no problem re-watching her movies,  since most all of them are entertaining and engrossing.

When it comes to books, that's another matter. Too many years ago, every time I went to the library, I'd look for the Cinderella book to take home again. Now, when I finish a novel, I have no desire to read it again. Upon reflection, I've come up with some reasons, which I'd like to share:
  • So many books, so little time. My Kindle TBR pile grows by the day. Since I spend my daytime hours writing and promoting, reading is relegated to breakfast and lunch times, with the exception of vacations, when I sit outside in the partial shade and watch my dog sun herself. 
  • I'm more picky. Ever since I joined Chicago-North RWA a while back, and learned what comprises a good book, I'm not attracted anymore to works by formerly favorite authors who tend to churn out sloppy material.
  • Times have changed. Much of the technology depicted in earlier books has evolved. I prefer keeping up with what's current, as opposed to going back in time.
  • Styles have changed. Before, I didn't mind waiting to get into a book. Now, I want immediate gratification, and demand an opening hook or I will put a book down. My next point is in a similar vein. 
  • I get bored easily. I prefer fresh and new over yesterday's offerings.
What about you? Do you re-read books? If so, why? Which are your favorites?


Experience the diversity & versatility of Morgan Mandel. For romantic comedy: Her Handyman & Girl of My DreamsThriller: Forever Young: Blessing or CurseShort Stories Sequel: the Blessing or Curse CollectionRomantic suspense: Killer Career. Mystery: Two WrongsTwitter:@MorganMandel Websites: Morgan Mandel.Com Chick Lit Faves 

28 comments :

  1. Oh, I definitely re-read books! I'm about to get my hands on the "last?" (latest, anyway) books of Robin Hobb's Elderling Realm series. I own 12 of the books in this series, and (I think) I have three to go. But there are so many "easter egg" references to events in earlier books, and told from completely different perspectives, that I have been meaning to re-read this entire massive series from the start (I'm talking 900-page tomes). And I'm looking forward to it.

    David Edding's Belgariad is another series (five books) I've read more than once, and one day I intend to read it again. As is the Bartimaeus Trilogy (actually four books) by Jonathan Stroud, and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy "trilogy in five parts" by Douglas Adams. Plus I have plenty of favourite Discworld books by Terry Pratchett - Monstrous Regiment for one, and the Tiffany Aching books.

    As a teenager, I used to re-read the seven Chronicles of Narnia books at least once a year. It always felt like a holiday :-) I hadn't re-read those for a long time, but recently starting reading Magician's Nephew to my 5 year-old.

    The Conjuror's Game by Catherine Fisher was another frequent childhood read.

    Harry Potter is another series I've read at least twice, and more for a couple of my favourites. Specifically, I would read the book as it came out, then re-read it before seeing the movie.

    Moving away from fantasy, literary books I've read more than once are The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, The Secret History by Donna Tartt. And I'm planning to re-read Shantaram by Greg Roberts (another 900+ page book).

    Gah. No wonder I never have time to read!

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  2. I can see how if you're reading a series, you may want to refresh your memory about references which pertain to earlier books. Since I have a short memory lately, I'd probably need to do that. I own some boxed sets from the House program, and get more enjoyment from watching programs in order. There are many references I would miss otherwise.

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  3. Oh, I've read many books more than once, and some even three times. I've read and re-read LaVyrle Spencer's books, not so much for the story as for her writing style. She obviously knew nothings about POV or too many POVs, etc., which in her case made some very good reading. Some I've re-read I won't read again because they are very outdated and I have enjoyed them as much as I can.
    This may be off topic, but I'm seeing far too many trivial novels in ebook. I do tend to try the Free ones, and out of ten, I might read one. Very poor writing, weak plots...the whole nine yards. Very disappointing. Even if I find a gem--which I have!--I probably won't read it again. Like you, my time is limited for reading.

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    1. Celia, yes, poor quality is a problem with some e-books. Good thing there are plenty more to choose from!

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  4. I have a few shelves of books I'd definitely re-read. I read Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series twice: the first three from the library as a girl, then again as an adult when I discovered there were more books in the series. I reread Divergent and Insurgent recently when the final book came out. I agree with too many books, too little time and having less patience with poor writing. Life is too short for bad fiction.

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  5. Yes, it has to be a really good story for me to spend time reading a book where the author pays little attention to writing skills.

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  6. I love to read my favorite author's stories over and over again. In fact, oftentimes when insomnia hits and my brain in on 50%, I'll reach for one of her books. There are many books I will only read once. Many books. But the ones that speak to me, those go on my keeper shelf and they will get taken out again and again. Even knowing the story, there's something about the story structure and the characters that makes me hop along for the ride.

    I'm that way with some movies as well. Take Galaxy Quest, a spoof on the Star Trek universe. I laugh and laugh at that show, and I know what's coming. In fact, knowing what's coming even makes it better.

    So my answer it yes, I enjoy rereads, whether in print or digital, but only the stories that hold me spellbound. Great topic, Morgan!

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  7. Yes, I do have my favorite movies that I watch more than once, but not as many books. So many books, so little time!

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  8. I own every novel Mary Higgins Clark has ever written and, through the years, I've re-read most of them - at least once. I especially love her earliest books. But then I'm a person who watches her favorite movies over and over again. I also read lots of new books and enjoy watching movies I've never seen before but my favorites are my favorites.

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    1. Mary Higgins Clark was one of my first favorite mystery authors. She hooked me right away!

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  9. Different ages, different takes on literature. Example, I read Shakespeare in high school, college and later taught many of the plays. Each time, I saw more in them. This has been true of many of the great works of literature.

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    1. Good point Jacqueline. Great literature can stand the test of time.

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  10. With only a few exceptions for some great classics, I seldom read a book more than once, even when I love them. I will look for other books by the same author, though. For instance I love Anne Perry's books and will read her new ones. Same goes for Louise Penny, Dennis Lehane, Laura Lippman, John Sanford, Kent Krueger, Tim Hallinan... and many more. LOL

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    1. I suspect many readers follow the same path as you do, Maryann.

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  11. There are only a few books I've read more than once (The Scarlet Letter, On the Beach, Wind in the Willows), and for all the same reasons you mentioned. And I'm loving the new stuff, including YA novels.

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  12. As a child, I loved the Nancy Drew mysteries, especially The Clue in the Old Album. The Beverly Gray mysteries were also favorites, and I recall thinking even then that they were better written than the ND series. Later, I loved my mom's collection of Kathleen Norris novels. Written between 1913 and 1955, these stories included several that were timeless in their application to women's lives. More recently, I have enjoyed all the books by Dick Francis and Tony Hillerman and a few by Barbara Delinsky, most notably The Vineyard.

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    1. Forgot to mention...yes, I would reread these books. :-)

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  13. I've probably read Naked In Death 6 or more times (and now I have it on my Nook, too). Much of that series more than once. I love escaping with Eve and Roarke. Outlander, too. And Dick Francis. Some Suzanne Brockmann. Since I love series, I tend to reread to get familiar with what happened since the last book came out. Then again, with my limited brain cells, I could probably get by with having 3 books because when I finished the 3rd one, I'd have forgotten the first.

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    1. It's comforting to know I'm not the only one who can't remember what happened in previous books!

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  14. I do re-read books, but there is a big difference between a 50-minute commitment to a Castle episode or 100 minutes for a Hollywood thriller and the multi-day investment demanded by a full-length novel.

    I have much the same criteria for re-watching a movie as re-reading a book. It has to be rich and complex, with superior writing. Even in movies, the quality of the writing trumps the acting. A poor script with good actors does not cut it.

    I have returned again and again to a few contemporary writers I admire. Vonnegut and Le Guin never disappoint. There are also some less well-known writers whose sophistication rewards repeated exposure. I've read Francine Mathews' _Cutout_ three times.

    I also particularly enjoy combining a novel with the movie adaptation. I have reread Eco's _The Name of the Rose_ twice and watched the movie several times. Cinema and print are always very different experiences, but closely coupled in the best cases.

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    1. Yes, it's interesting to see how books get adapted to screen, and if anything is lost in the process or enriched.

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  15. I do not purposely reread books. But, as you mentioned, age does get me to do it some times. Books I read long ago I find just as good today. And that is if I realize that I had already read it. I read for story - if the story is good, I'm all in. Thanks for the reminders of my aging mind!

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    1. At least many of us are the same boat, Neil!

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  16. I'm like you, Morgan, I rarely re-read a book, for the same reasons--so many, so little time!

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  17. I rarely read a book again, but I will watch favorite movies or TV shows again, though I do little TV watching. I have dozens of books on my Kindle that I'll probably never read and want to. I did read one Robert Crais book a second time. I hadn't forgotten it, I just liked it enough to read it again.

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    1. It's always amazing when I click on a kindle book and then discover I'd already downloaded it way back when and still hadn't gotten a chance to read it!

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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