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Why I’ll never again read the same book twice

Holly Viers • Nov 7, 2017 at 5:45 PM

A few weeks ago, I did something that I’ve never done before: I read the same book twice.

I realize this may seem insignificant to some of you, but considering I’ve always been vehemently opposed to reading a book more than once, it was a pretty big deal for me.

Little did I know that re-reading one of my most beloved books would permanently alter my opinion of it, and not in a good way.

The book I decided to re-read was one of my all-time favorites from high school, though I had forgotten a lot of the minor details. Feeling nostalgic, I dug the dusty old book out of my closet and started reading.

As the book went on, I kept waiting for the same feelings of wonder and excitement to kick in, like they had the first time around. But it never happened.

Once I got to the end, I read the last page over and over, hoping to feel some kind of emotion. When it never came, I quietly put the book back in the closet and wondered what had gone wrong.

Did I even read the same book? Had I somehow skipped part of it? These questions circulated in my mind for a few moments until finally I realized the problem: It just wasn’t as magical the second time, simply because I had already read it.

In my circle of fellow book lovers, the question of whether to read the same book more than once is a heated topic of debate. Though I’ve always been in the “no” camp, many of my friends have read the same book three, four or even five times, holding competitions amongst themselves to see who could read a certain book more.

To me, things are never the same once the newness wears off. When you’re reading a book for the first time, you likely have no idea what’s going to happen, so the experience is a lot more suspenseful and interesting.

On the other hand, if you’ve already read the book, suspense is essentially nonexistent, and you may even start to notice plot holes or other writing issues that you didn’t pick up on the first time. That’s what happened with me.

Though I was disappointed by the outcome of my little reading experiment, it at least confirmed what I’ve always believed: Some of the best things in life don’t need to be repeated.

Holly Viers is a general assignment reporter for the Kingsport Times-News.

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