StoryGraph Saturday: On Rereading

StoryGraph Saturday is a weekly thing where I randomly choose a book from my To Read pile on StoryGraph and show it off to both remind myself that it’s there and to show it to you, Dear Reader, in case you might find it interesting, too.


On Rereading
Patricia Meyer Spacks
Nonfiction/Memoir
First published 2011

From The StoryGraph: After retiring from a lifetime of teaching literature, Patricia Meyer Spacks embarked on a year-long project of rereading dozens of novels: childhood favorites, fiction first encountered in young adulthood and never before revisited, books frequently reread, canonical works of literature she was supposed to have liked but didn’t, guilty pleasures (books she oughtn’t to have liked but did), and stories reread for fun vs. those read for the classroom. “On Rereading” records the sometimes surprising, always fascinating, results of her personal experiment.

Spacks addresses a number of intriguing questions raised by the purposeful act of rereading: Why do we reread novels when, in many instances, we can remember the plot? Why, for example, do some lovers of Jane Austen’s fiction reread her novels every year (or oftener)? Why do young children love to hear the same story read aloud every night at bedtime? And why, as adults, do we return to childhood favorites such as The Hobbit, Alice in Wonderland, and the Harry Potter novels? What pleasures does rereading bring? What psychological needs does it answer? What guilt does it induce when life is short and there are so many other things to do (and so many other books to read)? Rereading, Spacks discovers, helps us to make sense of ourselves. It brings us sharply in contact with how we, like the books we reread, have both changed and remained the same.


I always enjoy books about books and/or reading, so this looks like it could be a fascinating book to read, espeically because it’s all about rereading books- something I meant to do more often than I actually do. Now it’s just a matter of tracking down a copy, as it’s not available at my local library.

2 thoughts on “StoryGraph Saturday: On Rereading

  1. This does sound very interesting. Rereading isn’t something I did a lot of when younger, I’ve never been one to reread the same work every year. And yet I’m finding an increasing desire to reread the older I get, sometimes multiple rereads of the same work. It’s interesting to look at how we change as we age. Similar to the increasing desire to reread I’m finding myself more interested in history, something I’d never been interested in when younger. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. I look forward to reading your thoughts on it if you track down a copy.

  2. Interesting. I have many theories to answer Spacks’s questions, but they are only theories. I am curious to see if this is more of a personal exploration or a scientific one. After all, how can you truly answer such subjective questions?

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