“A recent study has shown many people benefit from rereading familiar stories as the encounter “reignites” their emotions and increases their knowledge.
In broad terms the research found that people were generally keen to return to a well-thumbed book or to listen again to a favourite piece of music so they could gain a “richer and deeper insight” of the experience and increase their understanding.
The study concluded: “Consumers gain richer and deeper insights into the reconsumption object itself but also an enhanced awareness of their own growth in understanding and appreciation through the lens of the reconsumption object.
“Given the immense benefits for growth and self-reflexivity, re-consuming actually appears to offer many mental health benefits.”
“Vladimir Nabokov maintained that you couldn’t say you had really read a novel till you have re-read it. On the first reading you may be gripped by the story, and so you read fast, eager to find out where it is leading you. In reading like this, you miss a lot. You have no time to “cherish the details” – a favourite phrase of Nabokov’s. You will fail to understand subtleties and nuances. You will skip hurriedly over beauties. It is unlikely that you will appreciate the structure.
The books to which one does return are either classics – sometimes classics one feels guilty about – or books which are like old friends, and therefore suitable for comfort reading. Familiarity with them breeds affection. One knows they will soothe and never disturb. You feel no obligation to read from beginning to end – though you may of course do so. You can dip in and out, and skip, and read the passages you love best. Sadly, however, the day may come when you know a particular book too well, and you can come to the end of it, just as you may find that you may reach the end of a friendship.”
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