I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Partly because I am packing up my gigantic collection of books, trying to decide which ones to keep and which ones to give away or discard. I am shifting continents and I do have to make decisions based on cost–effectiveness. Do I want to take up so much of a container with reading matter I may never look at again?
It's been a very hard task. Sometimes the criteria is clear; if I am going to use a non-fiction book as a reference, then I keep it. With fiction, it's often less clear-cut. A much-loved book seems to cling to me. How can I throw away something that has given me several hours of pleasure?
I wonder what makes a reader decide a book is worth re-reading.
Sometimes I make the decision based on how much of it I can remember. This is particularly true of the early books of the series. If Book 2 of a trilogy is a long time appearing, I might reread Book 1 again. With G. R. R. Martin's Song of Fire and Ice, I continue to buy the books -- but I've actually stopped reading them. When the last book is due out, I shall reread the early books from the beginning and so on until the last volume.
One of the criteria which I use to help me make the decision about
whether I want to keep a book is indeed whether I will ever read it
again. If it's likely that I will once again dip into it, then it's a
keeper. The only trouble is: which will I reread? There are books I want to reread simply for the pleasure. I just can't quite work out just what their commonality is. Why this one, and not that one -- when I enjoyed them both? When the book has a surprise ending, is it worth revisiting? Will it be
fun to see all the clues that I missed first time around? Or will the
plot disappoint because I now know the ending? Why have I re-read Georgette Heyer's complete oeuvre multiple times when I don't normally even read romance??
I have republished Havenstar as an e-book and I'm astonished by the number of people who have bought it even though they have read the paperback version, and may in fact still have the paperback. So many of them comment that Havenstar is a book they read and reread, sometimes on a yearly basis.
So, tell me: why do YOU re-read a book?