About this time of year I often reflect on what I did differently throughout the past year. One of the things I observed was my choice to do a significant amount of rereading. Rereading simply means to read something again.
Sir Francis Bacon, the English author and philosopher (1561 – 1626) had some wise words to say on reading:
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention
In my thinking there are great advantages of reading something for the second or even third time. Rereading provides us with:
1) Deeper Clarity – Rereading allows us to “see what we may have missed” or misinterpreted.
2) More Available Comparisons – The passage of time has allowed us further life/work/reading experience so we can make better comparisons.
3) Comfort and Appreciation of the Familiar – Rereading a favorite book is like enjoying a favorite meal. It just feels right.
4) Increased Likelihood of Reviewing “The Other Parts” – These are outside of the main text of the book – prefaces, table of contents format, acknowledgments, author bios, bibliography or footnotes.
One of the books I have recently reread is Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren’s 1972 version of How to Read a Book. Of course, if you have read this book already, you would likely understand the value of number (4 above. Which of course, my rereading recently got me doing in earnest.
Some good sources for selecting books are the BBC 100 Top Books and if you desire to read “classics” you might investigate the list that Adler gives in his 1972 version. The list appears in Wikipedia under the description of How To Read A Book.
Since I’ve only read 47 of the BBC list I still have a long list of books to get to yet. I will however, try balancing the yet unread with the joys of rereading.