On Rereading

As a child and teen I read and reread books time and again. I would finish a book and then immediately go back and reread my favourite bits again. On one holiday to Norway when I was 16 one of the books I took was Junk by Melvin Burgess. I only actually read it cover to cover once. But I spent so long dipping in and out of it once I finished it that I probably read the whole thing three times in those two weeks. It was the same with the other books I took on that holiday (although Junk was the one I read most). And I was very similar with my books even when I was at home and could get at all of them.

I don’t do that now. I can’t remember when I stopped. I can remember doing that with one particular book when I was at uni (Palomino by Danielle Steel, it was one of the first mainstream books I read with a disabled character) and I know I did it a bit when the Harry Potter books came out. It’s not that I don’t love books as much it’s just I read them differently.

I do reread books occasionally but nothing like I used to and not regularly. It tends to be the same few that I revisit. Comforting, easy reads. Familiar stories and characters. Books where I might have forgotten something about it but there are no massive surprises and I know I’ll enjoy it. The Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy L Sayers I’ve read some of only once and others again (and again in a couple of cases) for one. And I’ve got a fair few children’s books I loved (a lot of which I first read as an adult) in both physical and audio form – the Harry Potter books, the Swallows and Amazons novels (not sure if I have all of those), His Dark Materials, Chronicles of Narnia. I listen to audiobooks a lot but tend to reach for something I know well when I really need to switch my mind off or if I need help to fall asleep.

It’s not something I’ve given a lot of thought too but when I did I kinda assumed it was because new books are so much more available to me now. They are cheaper and I can get them from the supermarket. I have my powerchair and can get to a proper bookshop or the library independently and easily now. I can order them online. And sometimes I get them free for reviewing.

But then a couple of weeks ago I went for a wander in our local (newish) branch of Waterstones. They didn’t have what I was looking for but I picked up a couple of books I’d looked at every time I’d gone in for a few months and actually bought them. As I was trying to remember another author to see if they had that I was looking at the YA shelves.

And I realised that actually I do reread stuff a lot, just like I used to as a child. I read fanfiction everyday. I’ve changed fandoms a fair few times and dip in and out of old ones occasionally (and new ones even more occasionally) but I think I’ve read some form of fanwork practically every day if not since i discovered it in 1999, certainly since I got internet in my own room at uni about a year later.

So there are those familiar characters and settings that made me read and reread either entire books or parts of them when I was younger. And not only do I read fanfic, I regularly reread favourites from whatever my current fandom is. For the last several years my main fandom has been Criminal Minds and I regularly reread fanfics. I’ve been spending a lot of time since I’ve been self isolating rereading a 72 story series. I think it is the first time I’ve completely reread it from start to finish (actually come to think of it, I don’t think I reread the first one this time) but I’ve read each of the stories more than once.

It was an interesting realisation about something I do and why I do it. And about the role/power of fanfic which is something that all too often gets a bad rep for not being “proper writing”.