Sunday, September 12, 2010

Writers' Thoughts: What Makes A Re-Read?

We all love books. There's something wonderful about opening the cover for the first time and escaping into another world. And, unless it's The Neverending Story, we all know a book ends. But what quality does a book need to make you read it over and over again?"

So grab your beverage of choice (don't forget the cookies), sit back and let's talk.

Katrina: A re-readable book facilitates escape (read that like Dory on Finding Nemo) Es-cop-ay! Its characters are relatable, but way more exciting than me, so I can imagine living in their world--and the very thought gets me geeking out. A good example of this is Twilight. Bella is an every-girl, and yet she's brave (like I would hope to be in her situation). Since I'd rather not actually face homicidal freaks of nature, I'm happy Bella's there to go through it in my place. Also like Twilight, a re-readable book must have suspense. I can pick Twilight books up mid-chapter 39 and get sucked into the scene because of the artful suspense. And finally, a re-readable book must have humor--like Emmet, or in HP's case, Fred & George Weasley--to keep me coming back for more.

p.s. you guys, I'm sorry my answers are so long. I'm really not good at short answers.

Amparo: I'm a sucker for voice. It doesn't matter the genre or premise, I just want to feel like I'm genuinely inside someone else's head the entire time. Bonus points if that head is filled with snarky thoughts

Kelly: The books that I re-read for pleasure have it all: great characters who I want to spend time with, a compelling story with suspense that drives me forward, a satisfying resolution that I want to experience again, and beautiful writing that allows me to get lost in the pages.

My standards for books I re-read for craft aren't as impossibly high. Those books just need to solve problems that I grapple with as a writer in a way that I both admire and think I can achieve.

Lindsay: What makes a book a re-read for me is a mixture of voice, great characters, and a story that interests me. I love reading books where I'm sad when my time with the characters come to an end. One of my favourite books is Pride and Prejudice. I can still re-read that and get so caught up in the story (and characters) I forget I already know what will happen.

That, for me, is what makes a book a re-read. :)

Kristal: Gosh. Hard Question. I have such a short term memory, so any book I re-read is practically like entering the world all over again!

Seriously though... One reason I re-read a book is when a writer hides their secrets well. I love a book that tells me what's going to happen through hints, but I never spot them until the end. So I'd re-read that book to try to catch them as they happen. I also re-read when a book has passion. And I don't mean the smutty romance type of passion. I mean real emotional passion that sucks me in. I love to have my emotions sore. And I love a happy ending.

So that's us. We open the blog floor to you. What makes a book a re-read?


  1. I don't have incredibly high standards - if I can get lost in a story, love the characters, feel like I'm part of the action, hold my breath at suspense, tense up as a reveal approaches... okay, maybe I do have high expectations. Biggest no-no for me - I won't re-read a book where the author is in love with their use of words. Make the words fall away... no $5.00 where a 50 cent word will do the job.

  2. For a book to be a needs to have everything. I want love, I want lust I want comedy, tragedy. I was suspense and sexual tension. I want to laugh and cry and get mad. If a book can do all this for me, and leave me feeling like I know the characters and they're my friends, then it has me for life!

  3. DLCurran, that sums up my taste in books as well. "I don't have incredibly high standards...okay, maybe I do have high expectations." :-)

    Stephanie, it's only recently that I'm finding books that really make me laugh, cry, and feel angry. Must be a direct result of the book blogs I stalk. :-)

  4. For me, a re-read is a great voice, one that makes me feel exactly what the main character is going through. And the more they're tormented by whatever is going on in their life, the more I want to re-live it, for some reason;) So I'd say 1) great voice, 2) compelling plot.


    PS Oh, and Katrina, I have a hard time with short answers too, and worked really hard to keep this one short! ;)

  5. Sometimes a re-read is for nostalgia--I read it as a kid, or even just a few years before, and I want to revisit the characters and their world. Like the Narnia books, Richard Peck's Ghosts I Have Been books, the Black Stallion books.

    Other times, it's more just for pure enjoyment; although, that implies that craft is a big part of it. If the characters, plot points, setting, etc don't come together as a whole, I won't re-read a book.

    And Katrina, although I was sucked in by Twilight, I can't re-read it without her writing tics being too glaring for me. The same thing happens with some movies--I like them better if I don't watch them again and catch all the flaws.


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