3 benefits of re-reading books

When was the last time you read a book?

When was the last time you re-read a book?

My book reading this year has been fairly lax compared to last year. But this year, I’ve made a few shifts in my reading habits. One in particular, I’ve re-read a few books.

I’ve re-read in the past but didn’t at all last year.

Unlike most people, my non-fiction reading style isn’t linear. I skip around, skim, and re-read all in the process of reading a book the “first” time. Since I’ve been reading this way, I’ve unconsciously felt like I wouldn’t benefit as much from re-reading a book.

I assumed I was pretty much getting all the benefits of re-reading all in the “first” reading. I was pretty wrong. Here are the three, main benefits I’ve noticed recently:

1. I’m not pressured to complete the book. As far as readers go, I don’t have much problem quitting a book. But still, there’s something about finishing a book for the first time. It feels good, you know, like you’ve actually accomplished something. You can mark it up on your list of books you’ve read.

That desire to finish isn’t as strong with a re-read, which leaves it more open for some nice, long contemplation.

2. I read the book from a different perspective. I try to learn something new every day. At least once a month, though, I’ll actually change to an opposite perspective, not just expand a previous one.

So if I re-read after even a few of those big shifts, the book itself will have a very different meaning because I fit it into my new perspective. Pretty cool.

3. I apply the book to different situations. This is slightly different from #2 because #2 is about finding a different meaning in the book, while this is about finding a different application of it.

When I first read a book, I’m thinking about how it applies to my life immediately. The next time I read it, I do the same thing. But since both situations are different, the application for each time I read is different.

I can’t get any of these three benefits from reading the book the first time or even re-reading the book that “first” time.