Do You Re-read?

My philosophy has always been that there are too many books out there to spend the time to re-read.  I’ve only consciously made a couple of exceptions to this rule.

A few years ago I re-read Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land.  In my opinion, this is one of the classics of science fiction and it was one of the first books that I remember having an effect on my world view.  In other words, it made me think.  I probably read it in my early teens and I decided to read it again as an adult to see if it still elicited the same response.  It is still a powerful book, if you grok Heinlein.

I have also read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius a few times, and will probably read it again.  There are few books worth the time to read them repetitively, and this is the one I choose.  Marcus Aurelius was a roman emperor and a Stoic philosopher.  This is a great combination as far as I’m concerned because I have always been interested in the Roman Empire, and I’m pretty much a Stoic by nature and inclination.  If you are looking for words to live by, look no further than:  He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.

These are the only two books I have purposefully read more than once, but the list grew by two more in the last year.  The titles don’t really matter because it was more a result of my mind slipping with age than a conscious decision.  So twice in the last year I found myself reading a book that I had read in the past.  Maybe you’ve had that feeling a few chapters into a book where you realize you’ve read it before.  What do you do?  To quote Marcus Aurelius:

Whatever the universal nature assigns to any man at any time is for the good of that man at that time.

In other words, just go with it.  I recognize that I have to accept this occasional slip as I get older.  Also, a little flexibility in my book reading philosophy isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I have a feeling the universal nature is not done with me yet, so I might as well accept what comes next.

An exception to this rule, of course, is my own stories.  We call them revisions, but it’s pretty much re-reading the story multiple times to find errors and make it better.  Maybe if I call it re-writing it will make me feel better about it.

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3 Comments

Filed under Philosophy, Reading

3 responses to “Do You Re-read?

  1. I am curious to read these two books now. Thanks for sharing.

  2. There’s a passage from de Botton’s “Religion for Atheists” that remains with me to this day. In this passage, he reflects on the fact that we have so many books at our disposal – surely more than we could ever hope to read. He compares this to the geniuses of old who pined for singular books. In reality, we have read more books than some of the greatest thinkers that have ever lived. His point is how we read, also advocating for our re-reading, our studying of certain texts.

    There are certain books that I purposefully re-read over and over again. Certain works of Nietzsche; Whitman’s Leaves of Grass I read and re-read and consume constantly; a few of Emerson’s essays like Self-Reliance, The Poet,, and Nature; Walden by Thoreau; and a couple of my favorite novels I’ll re-read. I think it good to re-read works that affect us, that challenge us, that make us reflect.

  3. Pingback: Better than you remembered | M.C. Tuggle, Writer

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