Book Report: Temptations to Re-Read

March 9, 2023

In last week’s Book Report I mentioned the book A Friend Sails in on a Poem by Molly Peacock, which I enjoyed, but then also remembered how much I loved the two biographies Peacock wrote, The Paper Garden, An Artist Begins Her Life’s Work at 72 (2010) and also Flower Diary, In Which Mary Hiester Reid Paints, Travels, Marries and Opens a Door. (2021)

I want to re-read both of these books and added them to the “Books to Re-read” list in my book journal.

More and more I feel drawn to re-reading favorite books or immersing myself in the entire backlist of a favorite authors like Barbara Kingsolver or Ann Patchett or Jon Hassler.

Often reading a new book leads me to the desire to re-read an earlier book by the same author. For example, I loved The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell and now I want to re-read Hamnet. Or if a book I loved is mentioned on a podcast about books and reading, I sigh and think “Oh, I want to read that again.” That happened this week when I listened to the most recent episode on “What Should I Read Next?” (episode 370) when the host Anne Bogel suggested Plainsong by Kent Haruf to her guest.

Dusting my bookshelves has become a problem for me, because I see books I want to read again, Like The Children’s Book by A. S. Byatt and A Lost Lady by Willa Cather or Fresh Water for Flowers by Valerie Perrin or A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles or The Sentence by Louise Erdrich or Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy or….. (The solution is to NOT dust!)

Over the years I have re-read all the Jane Austen books. Pride and Prejudice several times. And in 2021 I read all of the Louise Penney books written to that point, and I know I would enjoy reading them again. My fingers are twitching as titles come flooding in my brain.

I consider not reading newly released books and only re-reading favorite books, but then there is the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) side of me. How could I not read the new book by Jacqueline Winspear, The White Lady, coming out later this month? And I am eager to read I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makai because I loved her earlier book, The Great Believers.

I have this ongoing battle between my TBR list and my Re-Read list. I play games with myself: I will re-read one favorite book for every three new (at least to me) titles on my list, but then books I have requested from the library suddenly are available or our weekly roaming just happens to include the stop at a bookstore. Or someone I trust mentions a new book they loved, and I add it to my TBR list.

What am I doing writing this post? I need to stop immediately and read. What am I doing requesting more and more titles–mainly new ones from the library, when I have all these books here on my shelves? And why do I love going to independent bookstores, knowing I will walk to the check-out counter with a fresh stack of books when I have piles waiting for me at home?

Well, Nancy, this is a first world problem. Relax. Get over it. You will never read or re-read all the books you want to.

Last night I finished The Cloisters by Katy Hay, a new book which I enjoyed, but I know it is not a book I will ever re-read. There is some relief in that. But now comes the challenge? What should I read next? I have three books from the library.

  • 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino
  • Leaving the Pink House by Ladette Randolph
  • Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet

Or do I re-read one of the Molly Peacock biographies? Stay tuned.

An Invitation

What is on your re-read list? I would love to know.

6 thoughts on “Book Report: Temptations to Re-Read

  1. I love to reread-but it’s hard to ignore the new books. I try to find a balance, maybe a quarter rereads? The last book I reread was David Copperfield, it took a long time but was worth it.


  2. I’m curious for the re-readers out there how you feel about a book after re-reading.
    I think I only once re-read a book and that was Gone With the Wind (!) and the second time I couldn’t even finish it while the first time I was completely absorbed in it.


  3. Such a good question. Re-reading for me is often a closer, deeper reading; a reading that is richer and I hope closer to the intention of the writer. However, I have had the experience of starting to re-read a book, but then deciding not to continue and wondering why the book had been so meaningful to me in the first place.


  4. I don’t re-read often, unless it’s non-fiction. The only novels I can recall off the top of my head that I’ve read twice were A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and The Snow Child. Pat Conroy and Barbara Kingsolver are two of my favorite authors, but I have not re-read their books. Probably because I have too many other books to read! 😉


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