Friday, February 6, 2015

Everybody's Changing, and I Don't Feel the Same

If I'm being really honest, when I started blogging nearly four years ago, my desire to reread novels slowly petered out in favor of reading the latest releases. I was caught up in the shiny newness of all these titles and series and authors I was discovering, thanks to all the friends I was making in the blogging community. Last year, however, I found myself struck by the desire to start revisiting old favorites, whether they were novels I read as a new blogger or even older ones I read as a child. So, I made plans to reread more this year, and when Hannah & Kelly launched The Re-read Challenge, it seemed like fate.

After rereading a couple of novels in December and January, I had a few epiphanies. Encouraged by Hannah, I've decided to share my thoughts sporadically through this year as I reread more. This particular post is going to be about how feelings can shift upon a reread.

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Scenario #1: Last November, I reread The Winner's Curse in an attempt to reacquaint myself with Rutkoski's world, characters and story before I dove into The Winner's Crime. I wasn't very impressed with this novel on my first read, so I was a little hesitant to reread. But to my surprise, I actually liked it a lot better upon a second read!

Scenario #2: In January, I reread What's Left of Me because I wanted to binge read the next two books in the series, Once We Were and Echoes of Us. When I read it the first time, I was impressed by its originality. While the concept is still fascinating, and Eva and Addie are great characters, I was less enamored with this story upon a second read!

It was interesting to ponder my change of heart towards these two novels I reread. What exactly is it that caused a shift in the way I felt about the book? I've been sitting on my thoughts for a while, and I've come to a couple of conclusions. [Take note, these are personal conclusions, and might not necessarily be the case for you.] These are the things that can make or a break a novel, at least, for me, and the things that really affected my opinions post-reread. (And after you read my thoughts, don't forget to go and see what Hannah has to say about this phenomenon!)

Plot Perception

Plot knowledge is certainly one aspect of a reread that can affect one's general sentiment towards a story. In some cases, particularly with favorites, knowing what happens will not affect feelings one way or another (and sometimes, being emotionally ready for heavier moments can be a blessing). But some stories work better if readers are surprised by unexpected twists, and an awareness of them beforehand can lessen their intended impact on your emotions. This is certainly true of What's Left of Me; I knew the major twists so I didn't feel things with the same intensity as when I first read it.

Discovering Details

Rereading often gives me the opportunity to see details that might have escaped my notice on a previous read. It's always fun to discover new connections, or to uncover even more vivid descriptions of a setting or a character. Rereads can be a very different experience, particularly if you find yourself paying more attention to things that you never thought about before. With The Winner's Curse, I actually found myself really interested in the culture clash between the Valorians and the Herrani. Rutkoski provided details about their differences, but also managed to slip in a few commonalities.

Taste Transformation

Last, but not least, and most personal of all, a change in personal preferences will definitely affect your feelings towards a book you're rereading. You might be in a different place in your life upon your reread - emotionally, physically, mentally - and of course, that will change how you feel about the story or the characters. Whether we like it or not, who we are, what we value, what we like and dislike - it all affects our reading experience. 

And there you have it, friends, a few initial conclusions about why we might respond different to a book post-reread! I'm sure I'll uncover more thoughts for discussion as I reread more this year, but now I'm curious - Do you agree with any of the thoughts I've shared? Do you have other ideas on why your feelings towards a book change upon rereading it?

5 comments:

  1. I feel this ALL THE TIME. I love re-reading my favorites and the first book of a series when I binge on a series. The reasons you stated apply to me as well, Alexa. Especially to books I read when I was younger or pre-blogging. Sometimes it's so hard when my views change because I am not that fond of changing ratings on my books. But I always end up doing it! Still, I won't stop re-reading because it's so fun!

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  2. Leah @ The Pretty Good GatsbyFebruary 7, 2015 at 8:53 AM

    Pre-blogging I reread CONSTANTLY. These past four years, however, I haven't reread a single book until signing up for H & K's challenge. I reread a favorite from last year and, while I still loved it, something MAJOR stood out that I had a hard time getting past.


    I don't know if, last year, I simply didn't care and was totally okay with overlooking it, but this time around it bothered me. I still enjoyed it immensely (and am now craving rereads of other favorites!), but it made me realize that my feelings have definitely changed. Small details that seemed insignificant before might be dealbreakers for me now, just as reasons for DNFing books years ago might now be what makes the book for me.


    When I commented on Hannah's post, I mentioned getting back into YA. Prior to blogging I never really read it and these days I don't read much of it, but about a year after blogging I read nothing but YA. The very first one I read, the book that got me back into the genre was a contemporary novel and I loved it so much I gave it five stars, added it to my favorites shelf on GR, and stuck it on my Best Of list at the end of the year. I'm absolutely convinced I wouldn't give it nearly as much praise if I reread it today. I've read a lot of other books since then, and what might have once seemed fresh and new might be full of cliches I wasn't aware of until I discovered them through other books.

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  3. I definitely agree on being at a different stage in life emotionally. I remember reading 'About a Boy' by Nick Hornby when I was around 15, and I couldn't understand much of the book. I, however, re-read it when I was 19/20 (can't remember exactly), and really enjoyed it. I didn't feel I was rushing through it for the sake of finishing a 'boring' read. I think my enjoying it later on might have had to do with the fact that I had matured a little bit more, and perhaps the fact that I had been an exchange student in England helped a little more with changing my view of the story. :)




    www.a-boutagirl.blogspot.com

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  4. I totally agree with your thoughts! I have never been much of a rereader, but when I started blogging a few months ago I wanted a way to share some of my old favorites on my new blog - I thought it would help people get a good idea of my tastes. So I started that feature I told you about on Twitter the other day. I wasn't really anticipating having different feelings after reread, I figured my review would just be about what I loved about the book. But when I went to write it the review, I realized my feelings were so different the second time that I had to write about both experiences. For this particular book, the knowledge of the plot twists were definitely what made a difference for me. I really like the idea of noticing more details than on the first read - that happens to me all the time with good movies.

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  5. I definitely agree with your thoughts on why our opinions may change. I have found them to be true for myself at time. I haven't had very much time to reread since I started blogging last January, and I kind of miss it. Maybe I'll get a chance to reread a favorite soon!

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Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)

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