How Much of Your Reading is Re-Reading?

Nobokov's Lectures on Literature cover

We’ve all heard about, or read about, readers who’ve repeatedly read certain books – even readers who claim to read a certain favorite at least once a year.

On the other hand, other booklovers – perhaps oversensitive to the the tragic arithmetic resulting from the “So Many Books, So Little Time” predicament of all readers – choose against reading again any book they’ve already read, regardless of how much they enjoyed reading that book the first time, or how profoundly it affected them.

Like so many other avid readers who were also writers, Vladamir Nabokov encouraged readers to spend more of their reading time revisiting certain books – usually those books that are widely considered classics.

According to Nabokov, “A good reader, a major reader, an active and creative reader is a rereader.” He beautifully explained his reasoning in his introduction to Lectures on Literature (1980). This essay is not a quick read, but it’s a persuasive one.

Read Nabokov’s essay.

Found via Patrick Kurp’s February 7, 2020 blogpost at Anecdotal Evidence

Author: Cal Gough

Cal Gough is a retired librarian who formerly managed a branch of the Atlanta-Fulton County Library System.

One thought on “How Much of Your Reading is Re-Reading?”

  1. Wow. That was… wow. I confess that I am not a re-reader, or at least I have not been before now. As you say, the calculation of how many books there are to read and how much time there is to read them prompts me to keep going on to the next one. However, I do KEEP certain books on my shelves with the intent of going back to them. A lot of the fiction I read comes from and returns to thrift stores. But I have made a special effort to obtain and retain “classics.” The Nabokov essay is transcendent, highly re-readable in itself, quotable, memorable, inspirational, and educational. Thank you for sharing. I was sad to read of Ben Price’s departure.

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