Saturday, August 18, 2012

Re-reading vs. Re-watching: What is my problem??

Why is it that I can watch the same movie over and over again, but I have a difficult time picking up a book I've already read? I know there are people out there who talk about how they love a book so much, they've read it multiple times. And yet, I only re-read three books for the Contentment Reading Challenge 2011, and I haven't really re-read much else without being forced to do so.

So, what is my problem??

If it had to do with a loss of surprise (i.e.: I already know the whole plot, including the ending), then I wouldn't like to re-watch movies for the same reason. There are movies I've seen a gazillion times (give or take a time or two), and I still love them, despite the fact that I can quote them almost word-for-word (and annoy the people I'm watching with).

Perhaps part of it has to do with the time commitment. When I sit down to watch a movie, generally I'm devoting an hour and a half to two hours of my time. But when I sit down to read a book, it takes a lot longer, especially if I have to read between other commitments (we're talking days).

Another big part of it has to do with greediness and the book-reviewer syndrome. You know what I'm talking about, right?? There are so many great, new books coming out all the time!! And my TBR stack just keeps getting bigger and bigger... Why re-read books when you have so many new ones you haven't even read once?

*Sigh* I sound so spoiled! I mean, how blessed am I to have so much reading material??

I think if I took the time to consider what would cause me to re-read a book - and if I reminded myself how many wonderful books I have read - maybe I would be encouraged to re-read more and not be so enamored with the new. (Not that there's anything wrong with enjoying new, unread books! I just want to understand the pleasures of re-reading more.) Worth a try, I hope!

Re-watching and Re-reading
  • The Favorite Scenes - You know those scenes that make you sigh with delight, or feel warm and fuzzy inside, or make you cry, or make you gasp? It's fun to re-watch and re-read scenes like those! Unfortunately, that kind of makes up most of my re-reading - going back and just re-living those favorite scenes. So while they're great and can inspire return visits to the story, I think this is one I have to beware of, because in and of themselves those scenes don't always help me re-read the whole book. The favorite scenes have to be combined with other qualities...
  • The Music - In a movie, the music really can make a big difference. And it's not just the soundtracks with lyrics (although I enjoy those, too!). Consider the BBC Sherlock series, or Kate & Leopold, or Tuck Everlasting, or How to Train Your Dragon. The music sets the scene and draws you in emotionally. I think the books that I would be more inspired to re-read are the ones that have a certain "music" to them - those books that are well-written and have their own unique, engaging style that makes me feel involved in the story and intrigued by the way the author strings words together. 
  • The Setting - It's the place you want to re-visit. Like beautiful Ireland in Leap Year or New Orleans in The Princess and the Frog or Radiator Springs in Cars
  • The Dialogue - My family and I kind of have our own language, and you'd have to have seen a lot of random movies in order to get it. You see, we quote movies all the time. I'm not sure this comes off quite the same in books (after all, you're reading it, not hearing it). But still - some great dialogue can make you want to re-live the wit or the zingers or what-have-you.
  • The Characters - When characters become so dear that they're like family, or so similar to yourself that they're like your best friends, or so intriguing that you just want to try harder to understand them...that's when you want to spend more time with them.
  • The Theme - Sometimes you need to reminded of something important. That's one thing I love about Hallmark movies and ones like them (the tear-jerkers) - they often help me put things in perspective. Even though it isn't always fun to watch or read about things like war and losing a loved one, those sorts of stories remind us of how precious life is, and how much we need to cling to hope.
Basically, I think the stories we want to re-discover and enjoy more than once are the ones that contain a journey we need/want to take over and over again. It doesn't matter that you've read or seen it before. Each time you take the journey, you learn something new and yet find comfort in the familiarity of it. Like a good friendship, it helps you grow while offering you something stable. You know the plot and are guaranteed a happy ending (generally!), but each new viewing/reading encourages and inspires you in new ways.

At least, that's why I like watching certain movies over and over again. And I hope that this exercise will show me that some books are worth the time investment of a re-visit!


Brooke @ i blog 4 books said...

Hey Amber - Thanks for finding me on Good Reads. :) Love this post! I RARELY re-read a book and have wondered why not - esp when I watch so many movies over and over and over. I agree with your points about time commitment and loving the new books. For me, it also has to do with the fact that authors generally publish several really great novels - and many times multiple books in a series - which I love. Movie sequels usually don't measure up for me - if they even do one. So maybe I feel like I have to go back to the original over and over in order to get more of it. :) Plus movies are something shared between me and my husband, family, or friends. Reading is a more ... isolated ... hobby for me. Sorry for the book, but you made me think!

Rissi said...


No matter my good intentions... I rarely re-read either! Though I watch a movie dozens of times over. :-)

Vince said...

Hi Amber:

A movie is passive. You can sit there and daydream and the movie goes on unaffected. Reading is active. If you daydream, the story stops. Watching is like riding a bike down hill while reading is like riding a bike up hill. Add to this the fact that most books are not rewarding enough to read twice and you’ll see that you are perfectly normal.

Not many books will ever be read twice. The few that are will be layered with a richness that may actually require many readings to 'read' once. These gems are a joy to discover.

I hope yor are doing well.


Amber Holcomb said...


No problem! And so glad you liked the post! :) I'm glad I'm not the only one who has wondered why I don't re-read more!

You make some great points! There's generally a shorter wait period between books than between movies, and a lot of times the sequels aren't as good when it comes to movies (although there are exceptions in my book - Shrek 2 and Toy Story 2 & 3 being among them!). And that is so true about reading being a more isolated endeavor. Watching movies is more of a fun, relaxing (or bonding) community event. :)

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and feel free to write "books" here as often as you'd like! ;)


Amber Holcomb said...


I totally hear ya! I started the Contentment Reading Challenge last year to try to get myself to re-read more... It didn't work super well for me. :P But I still like the premise of it! ;)


Amber Holcomb said...


Good to hear from you! And you always make such wonderful points! Here I take a whole long post to ponder the question, and you put it so succinctly. :) I'm glad to know that I'm normal - at least in regards to this issue!

I love the way you describe the gems that need to be read more than once - definitely a joy to discover those!

Thank you so much for stopping by! I always appreciate your comments. :)

I'm still kind of at a crossroads in my life, but it's a good and humbling learning experience. :) I hope you are doing well, too!


Julie said...

I'm in the same boat as you Amber! I can watch a movie countless times, but lately re-reading a book is put on the back burner. I used to re-read my favorites every year or so, but since I started blogging there just isn't the time to re-read. The TBR pile seems to be never ending and yet I still buy new books and download free books from Amazon almost daily. When is one person ever going to have the time to read all of the books I have waiting for me? I joined the Contentment Reading challenge this year and have managed to read several, but not reached my goal. Maybe someday I'll have time for my old friends(as that is what I feel like when I re-read a book, like I am visiting with an old friend).

Michelle said...

Such a fun post, Amber! I too, love to re-watch certain movies over and over. And like you and your family, we quote movies all the time! So fun!

But re-reading? Not so much. There are so many books to read, and so little time. BUT, there are books that I would re-read . . . someday. :)

Amber Holcomb said...


I hear ya! Blogging is a blessing in many ways - including the opportunity to read many new releases without making a huge dent in my wallet! But at the same time, it is a huge time commitment, both in writing reviews and in reading. Of course, I could stop requesting so many books...but it's a hard habit to curb!

And yes! With all the books I've collected - both physical copies and e-books - I really don't know if I'll ever get to all of them! The reading possibilities are endless nowadays...

I hope you've enjoyed being part of the Contentment Reading Challenge. :) It was very nice of Katie to keep the challenge going by hosting it this year! And I hope you get to re-visit some more dear friends sometime. :)


Amber Holcomb said...


Sounds like we're definitely two peas in a pod! :) I love movie-quoting with my family! And yeah, there are some books I think I'd like to reread someday, too. :)


bookgirl said...

My family and I also often quote various movies and TV shows. Sometimes I quote them to other people and they have no idea what I mean. I think it's a family thing.

I personally love to reread books, and once I read the same book thrice in a day, then twice more the same week. I do get your point though. It is sometimes hard for me to pick up a book and read it again, and sometimes I do pick up a book and just flip to my favorite part to read that.

I wish you luck with reading all of your pile of books. I know what that is like, and it can be so awful. My pile of books, if I leave it too long, will topple down and get everywhere.

Amanda Stanley said...

Hello, dear Amber! I know I'm late to this post also, and I'm sorry! My life is so crazy sometimes it's hard to find time for everyday mandatory things, let alone leisure re-reading, lol! ;)

I can tell you there is for sure a Book worth the time investment of a re-visit... the Bible!! =D I know you're talking about fiction here, but in my own life I've found, especially lately, a call back to pages and stories of the Bible I've already read so many times, many committing to memory, thinking I already grasped their depths, only to be shown that, NO, there is so much more to learn, so many more layers to unearth! His Word has unfathomable depths! But I digress. Lol, probably not what you meant by this post but I just had to mention THE Book of all books! ;)

I think what you shared is great and so true. We're blessed with fabulous reading material but we're a people used to a quick fix, which is something a 400pg book is unlikely to offer, lol - as I know what you meant when you said a movie is faster than a book. OH, but there are SO MANY books I WISH could be turned into movies!!! ;)

So cute that you and your family have your own language going, that you're all that close to enjoy the same things :) That is a wonderful and rare blessing! I think books are a more personal journey, each reader seeing characters and surroundings in different ways. I guess it depends what you're in the mood for.

Well, not sure if I added anything to your discussion here, but I hope I at least made sense, lol! :)

God bless you, my friend!!

Amber Holcomb said...


Hahaha, yes, I know what you mean! It's definitely a family thing. ;)

That's great that you re-read so much! That one book must have been quite something to re-read it all those times in such a short amount of time!!

And thank you for the encouragement. :) It's interesting trying to keep track of everything and to decide what to read next (etc.), but I am grateful for all the reading material I have as a blogger!


Amber Holcomb said...


You're not late - you're welcome to stop by anytime! :)

And you make a wonderful point! Re-reading the Bible is different than re-reading any other book - it definitely has more to offer with every subsequent reading! It never gets old; it is always rewarding wherever we are in life. :) The brightest gem to re-discover and re-examine, to borrow Vince's analogy! I'm glad you brought it up. :)

And yes, I am blessed with a wonderful family! :) And I agree about reading being more of a personal journey - much more left to the individual's imagination than a movie.

Thank you for joining in the discussion! Your contributions are always a blessing. :) God bless you, too!!