|Sorry creepy dude, that second date will be a total fail.|
I’m not a fan of re-reading books. There are a few that I often revisit, but mostly because I like a character in particular and I skip to his/her parts. But I almost never pick a book for the second time and read it all the way through the end. However, lately I’ve been re-reading more and more books that I love and always recommend. The results have been mixed.
Weeks ago I decided to re-read two of my all-time favorite books: Blue-Eyed Devil and Smooth Talking Stranger, both by Lisa Kleypas. I love these books so much I recommend them to everyone, even if they don’t like romance. And if I had a Romance Conversion Kit (something I don’t need it because all my friends go to sleep just by hearing the word “book”) they would be in it. But when I read them for the second time I realized that although they remain good, the original awesomeness wasn’t there. So I started thinking about reading, and how time, reviews and re-readings can change that experience and make you see flaws in something you originally thought to be near perfect.
|Sweaty Speedo men are sweaty! |
Few things compare to reading a great book for the first time, when you discover a new favorite. These are books that make you fall in love with a genre, an author, or maybe just with that particular story. But what happens when you read them for the second time and they aren’t as good as you remember? This is exactly what happened to me when I re-read Kleypas’ books. They didn’t live to the expectations my memories had created. I say memories because the books are obviously the same, so I wonder if I am different. Sure, there are books that I’ve outgrown—stories that I love but don’t feel like reading again because they are no longer “my thing”. But then there are stories that should still appeal to me because they are exactly what I look for in a book. How do I know this? Because those books set the standards I use to measure book nowadays. And yet the second time around my impression of them wasn’t as good.
What’s the problem?
I think part of it is that first times are first times, and second times are second times. You can’t compare them because they are filled with differences: the situations, reactions and expectations are different. The book may be the same, but the reader sure isn’t. There’s also the engrossment factor—I use it to measure how likely I am to notice mistakes and flaws. If a book is riveting, chances are, I’m not going to notice its faults, and if I do notice, I won’t care. But during the re-reading those weaknesses will probably be more obvious. Reviews also play a role here, because they help me notice details I may have missed. It’s one of the reasons I love reading reviews of books I have already read.
On the other hand, re-reading a book can help you experience the story in a different and better way. There are books filled with details that can be hard to notice the first time, especially if I was busy inhaling the book to pay closer attention. This is a common occurrence with series I love.
Finally, there are those books I love but don’t want to ever read again. They tend to be the emotionally draining ones. Stories that kept me glued to the pages but once they were done, I hid them under the bed to never see them again. Those were remarkable one-night stands, but won’t ever get a second date with this reader.
When it comes to books, first impressions count, and most of the time they are all we get. Although the second time may not always be a charm, my favorite books will remain special, even if the reader I’ve become is no longer a fan.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Have you ever been so engaged by a story that you missed its flaws and it took a review or a second reading for you to notice them? Did those flaws changed your perception of the book? Or did you love them regardless, maybe even more? Do you like re-reading books?