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Arts Vanity: Rereading is Cool

By Courtesy of Alisa Regassa and Joey Huang
By Sarah M. Rojas, Crimson Staff Writer

When I started writing this piece, I first had to look up how to spell rereading — to my dismay, it’s not normally spelled “re-reading” with a cute little dash in the middle. But basically, the word just wasn’t in my vocabulary. The concept of reading a book for a second time was never in my action set.

For me, rereading a book was like going to Lizzy's Ice Cream and ordering the same flavor twice (that hyperlink is very intentional — I’m not a doctor or anything, but whatever happens in life, I know this place can fix it).

So let’s take this ice cream case study. I love coffee ice cream. It’s my favorite flavor. But if I find myself at Lizzy’s and I am presented with Charles River Crunch® and Colombian Fudge Avalanche, how am I supposed to revert to my favorite, yet objectively basic, ice cream choice? How am I supposed to give coffee a second chance?

Now, like any good Harvard student trying to lengthen an intro paragraph, let’s look at the definition of a second chance. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (seems reputable), a second chance is defined as “an opportunity to try something again after failing one time.”

Inherent to the definition of giving something a second chance is that that person or thing has failed you once before. But these books — my favorite books — had never failed me. In fact, they did quite the opposite. Looking back, I can now only appreciate the magnitude with which certain books have genuinely changed my life.

So why was I so averse to giving these great books a second chance, if they had never failed me in the first place?

And see that’s where I had it wrong for the longest time. Even though I loved these books, they had failed me… they failed to be new.

Have you ever made a Goodreads account? And watched in satisfaction as the little progress bar ticked closer and closer to that yearly reading goal? If you’re like me and have ever made the overambitious pledge to read 52 books in one year, you’ll have quickly realized that most online trackers don’t have a reread option — that rereading a book won’t “count” towards your goal.

And so there I was, blazing through new books as I conformed to this reading-goal club (cult?), engaging with literature in an odd, transient way. That year, I didn’t reread or really even reflect on any of my favorite books. Maybe in the pursuit of the new, I had forgotten what was right in front of me.

Okay, it’s finals season — we both know that this is getting a little too philosophical. Without further ado, here are some of my favorite books that I’ll be rereading in 2024.

Woah — that was a close one. You see, I could list the books that have meant the most to me and you might even be convinced to add some to your growing, to-be-read list. But that would be too hypocritical. I’m only interested in what you want to reread. I challenge you, this coming year, to pick up that favorite book again. To read that work with your favorite quote, the one that you always think about. To take another look at that great piece of literature that may have been tainted by the over-analysis of a high school English class.

I wonder, for both of us, what this experience will be like. Maybe it’ll be boring to go back to something that we’ve already seen before. But I’ll argue that there’s really no such thing as reading the same book twice. Because a book is not really about the words on the page, but the experience that the book produces — what those words mean to reader, at that specific moment in their life. And if we’re always changing (at least, I hope we are), then so will these books.

Here’s to rereading. Here’s to eating lots of coffee ice cream. Here’s to taking the leap of faith that your favorite book might just feel different now — that you might be different now.

—Outgoing Book Executive and Incoming Arts Editor at Large Sarah Rojas apologizes in advance if this challenge takes you back to middle school annotations of the Odyssey and your discovery of yonic symbols. Regardless, she would love to hear where this adventure takes you, and any updates can be emailed to

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