Time To Talk! Re-Reading Books I Don’t Love?

Posted March 13, 2013 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 34 Comments

My picture. The coffee was delicious. 

I want to talk a little bit this morning 
about some more of my re-reading habits. 

Sometimes my compulsion for re-reading extends a little beyond re-reading books I really love or refreshing myself before a sequel is released. 

Sometimes I re-read books that I didn’t really love the first time

A lot of people are quick to DNF if they don’t connect with a book. I totally get that, and I might the same way if I didn’t feel like I was a pretty good judge of what I think I would like to read. I usually pick books that I think I’d like, and this usually works out well for me. If I am not liking a book for any reason – if I DO push thru it – it’s because I’m hoping it will redeem itself to me. Sadly, this sometimes doesn’t happen for one reason or another. 

It makes me sad when I don’t connect with books that some of my reading friends have loved. There could be several reasons that I don’t click with a book: 

maybe the main character didn’t redeem him/herself to me 
or I couldn’t get behind his/her actions or behavior 

maybe the book was an issues book that 
brought out too much emotion for me to handle

maybe the hype/buzz machine just killed it for me 

or maybe it was a contemporary book and
I wasn’t really into the contemps yet
(yes, seriously)

I think the main reason I don’t click with books is that hype from marketing, other bloggers, or other readers kills my excitement for the book. I have the worst time loving books that have been pumped up too much, so much so that I’ve started pulling myself back from reading books that I feel are over-marketed unless I’m reading them super-super-early or wayyyy after everyone else. I also am working my way through some contemporary titles that I didn’t love the first time because I just didn’t love the genre yet. Giving these titles and characters a second chance is especially important to me.

Not loving a book that lots of you guys have loved means that I don’t feel closure when I finish the story. (That sounds really dumb, but just go with me.) So I re-read. Does it mean that I’ll love the story on the re-read? No. No, it doesn’t. But at least I know that if I try it again, I can go in with a clear head and a more objective mindset. PLUS everyone deserves second chances, right? So why not characters and stories too? 

Most recently – as in, just a couple of days ago – I re-read If I Stay by Gayle Forman. As per my norm, I re-read in audiobook format and followed along with a print copy. I didn’t click with this book the first time I read it. (I thought I did at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I didn’t.) I didn’t understand why everyone SOBBED, why everyone was so destroyed or slayed or whatever (yes, I understand that it is sad). It’s a good book, it really is. But why are so many books compared to it? I liked it, but I could not for the life of me figure out where everyone was coming from when they say they were so emotionally connected to that book. So when I decided that I wanted to read Where She Went, the second book, OF COURSE I went back and re-read If I Stay. You guys, I wanted to be emotionally connected to the story. I did. I wouldn’t have minded a little bit of tearing up, a few tears. But it just didn’t happen. Again, it was a good story. And hearing it in audiobook format made me like it even more. But I didn’t love it on the re-read. I just didn’t. Am I glad I re-read it? HECK YES…because I went on to read Where She Went, which completely rocked my YA-male-point-of-view-loving world and DID, in fact, slay me. Had I not re-read it, I would never have gone forward with Where She Went (because I’m quirky like that) so YAY for re-reading books I didn’t really love, I guess. Mia got her second chance and hooray for second chances. 

I have some other second-chancers on my to-read list for the coming months. Some are coming up pretty soon and there are some that I’m still working toward. If everyone and their brother loved Divergent, Throne of Glass, Before I Fall, Anna and the French Kiss, and Just Listen so much – surely I missed something the first time – enough that I feel like another try is warranted. But that’s just me. Lots of people would just keep moving forward and not give books they didn’t love a second glance, and that’s okay too. 


What about you all? How likely are you to give a book a second chance? 

If you don’t love a book, do you tend to revisit it? Would you ever consider re-reading in another format to see if it makes a difference? (like audiobook, for example)

It sometimes will make all the difference for me, which is why I think I’m so quick to re-read books that I didn’t click with on the first go-round. 


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


34 responses to “Time To Talk! Re-Reading Books I Don’t Love?

  1. I've gotten a little bit better about not finishing books if they aren't doing anything for me although, if I hear really good things about a book that I didn't care for, I may try it again. That actually recently happened to me. I tried to read Jellicoe Road but could not get into it at all! I plan on trying it again in the future because I have heard so many good things about this book!

    • Jellicoe Road IS a really good book but it takes a while to find good momentum, I think. I knew that going into it, so I knew to push through. (I'm trying my second MMarchetta book now and I'm having a similar problem!) If you do restart it someday and can hang with it, it is a SUPER GOOD story that I know you'll like, Meg. But I completely understand why you had to put it down. IF there is one to pick back up and give another chance, though, Jellicoe Road is it! For sure. 🙂

  2. I have been shelving a lot of books lately that I just can't get into. I would rather spend my time reading something that I really love rather than forcing my way through something that Im not enjoying. That being said Im sure I will give these books a second chance later.

    You made a really good point of not loving the book because you didn't love the genre yet. I find myself loving a genre of style for a few months and then moving on to something else.

    • Yes, you know when I started reading contemporary books, I was a VERY RELUCTANT contemp reader. Like, I would make faces and stuff. I was determined to "try it and like it" – which I am glad for, because I love the contemps now, as you know – but those first few that I read unfortunately got the bad end of the deal for me. ALSO UNFORTUNATELY, those were some of the most popular contemps, the ones people recommended most highly. So I do want to go back and give them a try in case my reluctance at the genre in general was in the way of enjoying what is a story that I might really enjoy now. Does that make sense?

      If I don't think I will end up liking a book, I don't push through it. OR if I don't think there is any chance at all that things could turn around. Sometimes I am hopeful, though, and it just doesn't happen (Before I Fall). BUT in the case of a book like Before I Fall, the audiobook voice actor is SO GOOD that I want to see what the book sounds like when it is read TO ME rather than when I'm reading it myself. I don't know if it will make a difference, but I like the voice actor enough to try. We'll see. 🙂

  3. I generally don't go back to books I don't finish; with the exception of Jellicoe Road. I quit reading it only to go back to it at the urging of others, and I found I loved it by the end. But I usually give a book about 50-100 pages if I don't like it.

    • I've heard the 50-100 page rule before and that seems solid and fair. I just usually tend to want to give the characters a chance to redeem themselves to me – kind of like they're real people, haha – and find that by the time I've made my decision, I'm at the end of the book!

      If I don't think I'll like a book at all, I can usually tell pretty early on. Lots of times it's a case of I don't want to read a certain book TODAY, so I'll pop it back on the shelf and maybe pick it up next week or something like that.

      Glad you picked Jellicoe Road back up! That one is a really fantastic story, but it is definitely one that you have to stick with before it starts paying off.

  4. I think it is awesome that you give books a second chance! I don't think I am as forgiving as you, though I sometimes will pick up a book I had DNF-ed and give it another try. Usually it doesn't pan out on that attempt either. I guess I form opinions at a certain point and have a hard time changing them:)

    The only book I have considered going back and re-reading is 'The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.' EVERYONE loved it but I just couldn't stand it. But maybe I will revisit it one day soon and see if it sits better with me the second time around:)

    I do hope you will re-read 'Anna and the French Kiss.' I guess you have told me that you didn't care for it but I forgot. I still need to read 'Lola and the Boy Next Door' before 'Isla…' comes out this fall:)

    • Mara Dyer is the another series that I was waiting on to be finished before I started because of the crazy cliffhanger endings that I had heard about. ALSO I remember the INSANE blogger buzz about that book before it was even released and how everyone was talking about it on twitter in such a cryptic way that it was SO VERY ANNOYING to me because I remember thinking that so many people on twitter are readers that don't blog and how it isn't fair to be that way! So those are the two reasons I initially vowed to stay away from that one, and then I heard it was really crazy. So I'm hoping my choice to wait until the series is complete is a good one – I have a feeling it would've been on this list if I'd have read it already.

      I do plan to re-read Anna pretty soon, and I'll be audiobooking it this time. Then I'll read Lola. (AND I LOVE THE NEW COVERS, BTW.)

  5. Good for you for giving books a second chance! I'll admit, there have been SEVERAL books that everyone gushes about that I just didn't like. If I Stay was one of them. I listened to the audio, and yeah… I cried… but I think it was more a personal issue than the book made me sad – my dad had recently had surgery, so it was still fresh in my mind. I hate this feeling, like surely I'm missing something, surely there's something wrong with ME because I didn't love this book! But… on the flip side, there are books that I completely gush over and others hate. So… what can ya do?! But seriously, kudos for giving these books another chance!

    • YES!!! I think you totally understand where I'm coming from! And yes, there are books that I feel like I really love that I don't think other people love ENOUGH. I think we're totally on the same page here.

      But yes, I have to re-read to give myself closure on the book. I know that is so weird! But I can't help it! 🙂

  6. I very rarely ever truly "abandon" a book – if I'm having trouble getting through it, it goes into my mental "currently reading" list and will stay there for years. Even if I have to start over and reread the whole book to get through it, the odds are pretty good I'll pick it up again another day.

    • This sounds a lot like me too! My DNF list is not very long because I think if I was interested enough to pick the book up for some reason at one point, eventually I'll be interested enough to pick it up again – at least that has been my pattern in the past.

  7. I think it's interesting that you feel like you missed something with all these books that you didn't like. If i don't like something, I almost never revisit it, because usually I can remember why I didn't enjoy it in the first place and that thing isn't going to change on a reread. I also rarely DNF a book, so usually I feel like I've given a story a proper chance at least. There's just so much out there to read that I don't have time go back through stories that aren't redeemable for me, or with annoying characters.

    Even so, I am impressed with your dedication to reread and I think it's really awesome that you push yourself to go back through a book that you didn't previously love. The only book that I can think of right now that EVERYONE loved that I didn't is Graceling. And I've considered going back through it, but because the things I didn't like aren't going to change, I'm not sure if I want to bother. it's possible that they'll annoy me less this time around, but I'm not sure I care enough. I do feel like it's a black mark on my YA reading record. BUT I will say that I did look up GR reviews of that book, and I know that my opinion is not unique. Sometimes doing that helps me find peace with a story, because I see that my feelings really are not unique. Also, I've come to understand that everyone has triggers and plot elements that bug them more than others, and that's okay.

    Of the books above, I'm not even going to bother with IF I FALL. I do not like groundhog day books, and though I could appreciate it in the end, not sure I will ever like it. I thought JUST LISTEN was meh. I think there are much better Dessen choices, though I don't think I'll ever LOVE her style of writing. I DID enjoy Divergent – you'll have to tell me why you didn't care for it. I felt about the same about If I STAY as you did, though it didn't really bother me that I didn't connect to it as much as others. I'm not a big book crier anyway. I liked Anna, but didn't go CRAZY over it. And I'm not going near THRONE OF GLASS, because of the love triangle. The thing is that I've heard mixed things about many of these books, so I know that various opinions are out there, and I've come to realize that there are just some books I'll never get.

    I think you're incredibly awesome, and I LOVE your book quirks and your determination to get inside the stories you read and desire to connect with them as well as you can. I value your opinion and your friendship and think you're a kindred reader! xo

    • I've typed a reply twice to this awesome comment but my blog wouldn't accept either of them because they have been too long both times. So I've opened another internet window and I'm just gonna email you my reply.

      Also, I find this hilarious, how long-winded I let myself get over books. xo

  8. I love your posts like this. I feel like I'm getting to know you even more! Since I began blogging, I don't reread books EVER. I used to when I was younger, but I always feel a ton of pressure to be reviewing new books all the time, so I don't think I could mentally handle a reread haha. I don't think I'd ever reread a book I didn't like the first time. I'm think of books I didn't like and just the thought of having to experience them a second time makes me cringe.

    • HAHA, hello my name is Asheley and I'm the quirkiest reader EVER.

      I re-read almost to a fault. Except that it can never be a fault! I know exactly what you mean about the pressure of reviewing books! My favorite way of re-reading is by audiobook which doesn't tend to affect my review books at all because I audiobook while I'm cleaning house or cooking or grocery shopping or driving, and I wouldn't be reading for review at those times anyway. Re-reading just makes me crazy-happy, so that's why I HAVE to build time into my life for books that I have read before and loved. BUT I also find that I want to give a few that I didn't love another try too. I know, crazy. I don't re-read every book I didn't like – I usually have specific reasons if I want to re-read them.

      So strange, my habits!

  9. Thanks for sharing your perspective on re-reading! As someone who is often consumed with reading and adding new books to her reading total, rereading is hard. I am hoping to reread a few books I loved (like the Hunger Games trilogy which I haven't read since 2010) this year but I'm not sure how interested I am in checking out books I panned the first time around. I mean, is St. Clair not going to cheat on his girlfriend with Anna this time around? (No-it's still going to go down like that.)

    • I love your passion for reading and how you are constantly reading, and the variety of books that you read.

      SO TRUE ABOUT ST CLAIR – I don't get the deal with the dude. BUT, the thing about that one is that it is so well-loved by so many and I can't remember many details about the book beyond the names of Anna and St. Clair, and the fact that I didn't like that relationship. So I genuinely believe that I wasn't invested enough in the genre (which I now love) to give the book a fair chance, and I love to re-read 1st books before sequels/companions, so before I read Lola and the Boy Next Door I do want to re-visit Anna and the French Kiss. I will be reading via audiobook format this time – honestly, I'm not sure if I'll like the book more the second time or not. I'll be reading it soon, though, and I'm really curious about how I'll feel.

      The Hunger Games books are fun re-reads. I read book one on the day of the movie release last year, and I'll re-read again this year before I watch the movie again. I read those books so quickly, one right behind the other, and I've forgotten so many details.

  10. Rereading books is a wonderful thing, especially if you loved it the first time, but also as you say, when you didn't like it. I find that there are times when my head is just not in the right place to enjoy a book. Take Seraphina. I DNF'd that really early on when I got an arc, but this time around, I'm loving it. I don't retry all of them though, only those that are in a genre, or about a topic, I know I usually enjoy. Great post.

    • YES!! That's great! See, it can work out really well to give a book another chance. I'm hoping that'll happen with at least one of these books I'm planning to re-read. If it doesn't, that's okay, but I won't know until I try, right?

      So true about sometimes your head can be not in the right place at the right time…love that thought. 🙂

  11. I love these discussion posts. I rarely reread books, even the ones I love. However, I do reread two kinds of books: 1) my absolute favorites, and 2) books that I read for class (secondary school, college, grad school) and hated. I rarely even reread a favorite (except the Harry Potter series – I get a very specific yearning to reread the series sometimes). I reread about five books last fall for my young adult lit class, including The Book Thief and The Fault in Our Stars, and it was fun to reread books while thinking about teaching them and taking notes rather than just plowing through them as I usually do.

    Books I hate (some much more than others) that I read for a class. Let's see…Lord of the Flies, The Giver, Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, The Mill on the Floss, To The Lighthouse, Paradise Lost, Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Honestly, I disliked some of these so much while reading that I only read part of them. However, I'm planning to reread the first three to see if I just disliked them due to the way they were taught. A teacher/professor has the power to completely ruin a book, so I'm willing to give these another chance since they are so well-loved by many (Lord of the Flies, The Giver, and P&P). Other than that particular situation, I don't reread books I didn't particularly care for. In fact, I just convinced myself last year that it is okay to DNF a book because, after all, there is only so much time! I think that's a huge part of the reason I rarely reread – there are SO many books I want to read that I want as much time as possible to read them all. ALL THE BOOKS. 🙂 Also, once I put a book down for another book and accidentally never go back to it, I have a hard time picking it up again precisely because I don't want to reread what I already read. xD

    Great post, Asheley!

    • I'm also hoping to eventually read all of the assigned books from high school that I did like – To Kill a Mockingbird, Huck Finn, etc. because I know I will likely have to teach some of them at some point in my teaching life!

    • I'm EXACTLY the same way about the classics, which is why I've started going back to read them. I just finished Anna Karenina this week and LOVED it. Lord of the Flies is on my list too! I HATED that book when I had to read it in school. I also want to read the Twain books again – just several of them WITHOUT the burden of writing papers, etc because I did not enjoy that part of it and perhaps I'll like those books even more. Will I like them all? Probably not, because they're not going to be easy and fun and fantasy and YA and just like Daughter of Smoke and Bone, ya know? But at least the re-reads will be on MY terms. So I TOTALLY get where you're coming from.

      ALSO I LOVE what you mention about going back and reading the assigned books that you liked because you'll have to teach them. That's probably one of the coolest things I've ever heard.

      I LOVED The Giver trilogy (before the final book was just recently released) but the first time I ever read it was last year! I somehow never had to read that one in school. And I'm just about to start Pride & Prejudice. EEK wish me luck on that one!

  12. This really is a very interesting thing to think about! I have lots of thoughts on this post, but I will try to keep them condense and organized in my comment…

    1. I rarely re-read books, and when I do, it's usually just the books that I loved, or the books in a series before the latest one comes out. I've realized now that there might be something worthwhile in (possibly) checking out books that I felt were average or not for me the first time around. If only I had the time (and inclination to do this!).

    Usually, what I do instead, is that when I start a book and realize a few chapters in that I'm (a) not feeling this type of character/genre/story at the moment or (b) feel like I'm getting affected by what everyone else had to say about it, I just set it down to pick up at another time.

    2. I still have not mastered the art of DNF. I will always attempt to read a book through till the end, mostly because I keep hoping it'll redeem itself. While that sometimes leads to duds, it personally allows me to really be objective in my thoughts about the book when I review it.

    3. I'm glad that you're giving Divergent and Throne of Glass another chance! Those are two books (first in series) that I really enjoyed. I went into them without really knowing anything about them, and they ended up being pretty stellar.

    • I'm exactly the same as you are about hoping a book will redeem itself. Lots of times I'm disappointed because the book doesn't. I've read some recently that didn't even though I finished them. But you are correct about being able to be objective in your thoughts and reviews, and I can appreciate that and feel the same way.

      About Divergent and Throne of Glass – those are two that I feel were products of over-marketing, I think. I *hope* that I will like them more the second time. I feel like I am more inclined to like Throne of Glass because I think the story is probably better. But I will give them both another shot. 🙂

  13. Wow, this was really thought-provoking. I don't think I've ever re-read a book that I didn't like the first time around. I guess it's like I forced my way through it the first time, why waste more time on it? But I never thought that maybe my feelings would change the second time around. And it definitely could, because I'm changing all the time so maybe my view on a book might change as well. -Insert sound of mind exploding here-

    That being said, I think it's interesting how sometimes we internalize our feelings if we don't like a book. If everyone else has raved about a book and we don't like it, why do we put that on ourselves and think we must have done something wrong? It's so bizarre but it happens all the time. I don't know if there's really any answer to that, but now that I've entered the book blogging world I see myself comparing my feelings about a book towards other and thinking the same things you mentioned. Maybe I missed something? But really, we're just different people and it's okay to have different opinions.

    (Seriously, awesome post!)

    • Thank you! I think you're right, we do internalize these feelings a lot. I do the "maybe I missed something?/what did I miss?" sometimes and just HAVE to figure it out. I'm a very heavy re-reader anyway, so it makes sense to me to throw some of these books into the mix. Oh my goodness, I wouldn't want to re-read every book that I didn't love and I wouldn't want to re-read every book that I do love either! But some of them, I just feel like one more time might be THE time that it clicks with me – it's like hearing an album more than once and it growing on you. Sure, a book is a few more hours of time-commitment than an album, but it might take a few times listening to an album before you decide you really like it. I don't know if I'm making any sense!

      If I wouldn't have re-read If I Stay, I never would've read Where She Went, which I LOVED SO MUCH. So it's good that I gave If I Stay another chance. But truthfully, I didn't really love If I Stay to begin with. So if I didn't re-read books that I didn't connect with occasionally, I'd have missed out on something that I consider great. 🙂

  14. I think that this makes a lot of sense to re-read a book before continuing a series. Usually there's at least a year in between series installments and it can be difficult to remember everything, or even little details from earlier books that become important later on in the series. For me personally, my issue is probably that if I didn't really enjoy the first book, then I wouldn't want to read the subsequent novels in the series because, like you, I WOULD want to re-read the first and if I didn't like it the first time then I won't be very happy about spending the time to read it again. That's also why I'm trying to avoid newly released/hyped up books – so that I don't allow the hype to raise my expectations too high. 🙂

    • I completely agree – when there is a whole year in between series installments, I tend to forget details and I like to remember as much as I can and enjoy the new book as much as possible – I've just learned that for me, re-reading is one of the best ways to keep the details fresh in my mind and also keep loving stories over and over again.

      The hype thing is so huge for me too. I try to avoid it as much as I can because it often makes a story fall flat, even when everyone else seems to really like it. It doesn't take much at all for me to have expectations that are too high based off of reading friends, and I think that is what hurt me with books like Divergent and Anna and the French Kiss and Throne of Glass. I do want to give them another try since the hype is over so I can read with a fresh perspective. I WANT to like the stories, but I never know if I will unless I give them a second chance!

  15. Ashleley, I am DYING over your soon to be re-read pile. Those are three books (the three pictured at the bottom) that I genuinely loved. Divergent & Anna were two books I read pre-blogging, so maybe the hype didn't affect me as much? I dunno. I, too, am a bit wary when there's so much hype. (I was nervous about Just One Day for that very reason, but everyone was 150% correct about that one.) Anyway — I do very much admire you for giving books a second chance. I'm a big, big believer that timing is everything. In fact, the first time I read Delirium, I HATED IT. Absolutely thought the writing was terrible. Turns out, I read it RIGHT AFTER another dystopia I loved so much that I was comparing them. Time and separation helped me to see the love for Delirium everyone else had. And now? I'm a hard core fan (except I can't bring myself to read Requiem yet). Great post! xo

    • You're SO RIGHT. Timing IS everything! I really try to time myself to avoid the hype like the plague. I love to read the books either super early or a while after release. If I read along with the masses (even the pre-pub blogging masses), I don't always enjoy stories that everyone else does, and this makes me really sad.

      I'm kind of terrified of Requiem. EEK.

  16. Oh, girl. I already knew this little reading quirk about you because I think we've discussed it over email.

    1. LOVE LOVE LOVE this reading fact about you. Seriously, I love that you don't just dislike like a book and never return to it. It's so neat that you're willing to wait awhile and revisit it.

    2. I typically only reread books that I loved the first time around. However, sometimes I love them less on a reread. So, it stands to reason that there is a definite chance I could like a book I was meh on MORE upon rereading. Hmm… I may have to try this!

    3. Like Alexa, I can usually tell when I'm not liking the book because of my mood. For example, I can tell that if I picked it up at a different time I'd probably have totally different feelings on it. In those cases, I often just set them aside or return them to the library and plan to revisit in the future. If it's not my mood, it would probably depend on WHY I didn't like it for me to revisit it.

    If I didn't necessarily connect emotionally to the story (like If I Stay), I'd be more likely to try again. If I didn't like it because of some plot element or device that just doesn't sit right with me, I probably wouldn't give it another shot. For example, I really really really disliked Thirteen Reasons Why. I almost put it down, but I forced myself to just finish the book and see where it went. Because I didn't like so much of what was integral to the story (the characters, the concept, etc) I don't think I'd ever go back.

    Seriously, love these thought-provoking posts!

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