“I find it difficult to leave a book, however bad and however much it bores me, unfinished. I could count on my fingers the number of books that I have not read from cover to cover. On the other hand there are few books that I have read twice. I know very well that there are many of which I cannot get the full value on a single reading, but in that they have given me all I was capable of getting at the time, and this, though I may forget their details, remains a permanent enrichment. I know people who read the same book over and over again. It can only be that they read with their eyes and not with their sensibility. … It is doubtless a harmless occupation, but they are wrong if they think it an intelligent one.”–THE SUMMING UP by W. Somerset Maugham
I once thought that a book was worth reading, if it was worth reading again.
I have read the Gospel of John many, many times, and some chapters upwards of 40 times. I am not bored and I am always surprised by the new insights I gain, and even more so when I read it in a language I am acquiring.
I guess Somerset and I just have a different view of things…
I only re-read books i enjoy. And now if i start a book and it turns out to be a DUD, I drop it and replace it with another book. No point in pushing through a novel that i dread.
I don’t know about re-reading a book in the same language, but re-reading a book you enjoyed in your current target language I’d say is a very intelligent thing to do
“Don’t believe everything you read/hear”…so the saying goes. I think Maugham has got it wrong. I’ve read T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets many times. It keeps pulling at my heart. Not to mention that I’ve read the Tao Te Ching many times and in several translations. What’s more, I think that there are entirely too many great and interesting books to read to waste time on the “bad” and the “boring.” Once again I disagree with Maugham.
I reread Harry Potter a lot when I was younger. I enjoyed getting all the bits and pieces of information that I missed. Even today, I read up about it on a wiki page and find out I missed some stuff.
I re-read the books which has great impact on me like The Road Less Traveled, and which I enjoyed like Haruki Murakami’s books. Whenever I re-read it, I have different feeling about the content. I carefully select the book and also enjoying reading them.
After coming across Maugham’s comment on reading books, I came to think that reading through a book once is enough. We don’t have to read the same book over and over again, unless it is a textbook or a “sacred” book.