Monday, January 19, 2015

"re", favorites, and books

What a weird title.

I was thinking about the prefix "re" as an idea that creates favorites.

My favorite songs and albums are ones that I can, will, and do listen to over and over again. They are re-listenable.  In some cases there are albums and songs that I have listened to countless times for decades.

There are variations. I can hear a song on the radio, really like it, buy a copy and it doesn't hold up to repeated listens. The opposite is true also, I can hear a song, feel pretty meh about it, and upon repeated exposure it will grow on me. All I know is that I've stayed in the car, sitting in the parking lot, until "Lola" finishes. Hell, I've played the same album over and over again for hours, if not days, on end.

Think about movies. My favorite movies are the ones that hold up to repeated viewings. Not only do they hold up, but in some cases something new can be gleaned from repeated viewings.

I've watched movies, liked them, and have felt no desire to ever see them again. I've also liked movies then have them fall apart upon a re-watch.I've also had unexpected movies grow into favorites.

With movies you also get the "stop everything" movie. You know, you are flipping around the channels and you come across a movie, stop what you are doing, and watch the rest of it, regardless of where it is at in the movie.

TV shows from the last decade or so are even starting to develop a "re" factor.

But, does this apply to books in the same way?

For me the answer is surprisingly no. I can count the number of books I've re-read on, maybe, two hands.  A number of the books that I gave re-read I count as my favorites partially because I feel like they have earned their keep by passing the "re" test. But I do not regularly re-read books.


Is it as simple as getting caught up in the cycle of new-ish release reading that the internet and social media seems to engender. Is it because of the sheer volume of new books getting released? Is it something else?

Do you re-read books? if so, why? If not, why? Does "re" apply to books? Should it?


John McFetridge said...

I sometimes reread books. More often short stories. And I think that has something to do with the comparison to movies and music - a novel is a time commitment. I'm a slow reader and when I pick up a novel I know I'm going to spend at least a week with it.

But I do reread sections of books sometimes. I do it to manipulate my own moods the way I use music and movies sometimes.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Almost never. And like John, I am a slower reader.
But I rarely rewatch a movie either. I do rewatch TV shows as background music for chores. And I listen to the same music way too much.

Dana King said...

I make a point to re-read a handful of books every year. If I want to read Chandler or Hammett, I have no choice. For others, I sometimes like to re-read books I liked a lot to remind myself of something about them, or to see if I might get something different from it this time. And sometimes, they're just fun. I re-read Get Shorty every five years or so, even though I pretty much know it by heart now.

sandra seamans said...

I'm a constant re-reader. It's a habit I picked up as a kid when there were only about twenty or thirty books in the house. If I wanted to read - I reread.

As an adult money was always tight, so again, it was reread or not read at all, which was never an option for me.

Cary Watson said...

I live with a constant desire to reread all kinds of books, but I'm always thwarted by something new and interesting. It doesn't help that I work in a big library; all kinds of titles pass through my hands over the course of a week and one or two of them always end up on my TBR pile. I do reread a few titles but it's infrequent it almost doesn't count.

Kristopher said...

I definitely think it has something to do with the time commitment. Listening to a song again or re-watching a movie is a small blip in the day, while re-reading a favorite book can take at least hours, likely days (for most people).

I do re-read, but not nearly as often as I used to. There was a time I would re-read Jane Eyre and The Secret History every year. Now, I just do that every few years or when I need a comfort read.

I am not a big re-watcher of movies either. Really the only time is when I am trying to share a great movie with a friend. So in that case, book re-reading is also different. I'm not going to sit there and re-read something while I expose my friends to it.