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I Guess I Can't Argue With That

We Knew It! Reading A Book More Than Once Has Mental Health Benefits

I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that The Mary Sue readers have read at least one book twice. If not three, four, ten times. So it’s nice to know it’s not just for fun, it actually benefits your health!

“The habit of watching films or reading books multiple times encourages people to engage with them emotionally. The first time people read – or watch – through, they are focused on events and stories,” writes the Daily Mail. “The second time through, the repeated experience reignites the emotions caused by the book or film, and allows people to savour those emotions at leisure.”

The information comes via a study conducted through interviews with readers from both the United States and New Zealand. The emotional benefits gained from reading a book for a second time help people become more in touch with themselves they say.

“By doing it again, people get more out of it,” said author Cristel Antonia Russell of American University. “Even though people are already familiar with the stories or the places, re-consuming brings new or renewed appreciation of both the object of consumption and their self.” The same effect can be had by rewatching films or visiting favorite vacation spots.

The title of the paper in The Journal of Consumer Research is “The Temporal and Focal Dynamics of Volitional Reconsumption: A Phenomenological Investigation of Repeated Hedonic Experiences.”

It’s funny, whenever I go back to re-read a book, I always second guess myself thinking I should spend the time reading something new instead. Perhaps now I won’t feel as guilty. Which book have you read the most?

(via Daily Mail)


  • jetmilton

    I find that when I reread a book as I get older, my perspectives on the characters can change so much. Especially how I viewed certain characters in my late teens, mid twenties and now in my mid thirties.  Some books you almost NEED to read again after your’ve had more life experience.

  • Christopher Holden

    Not quite a book, per se, but I’ve read through the original Young Justice comic series at least a dozen times.

  • Anonymous

    Sherlock Holmes novels. I never have time to read anything else, mostly because I end up missing Holmes and Watson too much.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been known to finish a book and flip right back to page one.  I think you get more emotional impact if you let it sit for a few months first.

  • Sean Samonas

    I try to read the Lord of the Rings series at least once a year.

  • Anonymous

    Re-reading an old middle school favorite now and amazed at how much my perspective and reaction to the characters has changed.

  • K. Traylor

    I used to read my favorites over and over again. I went through the whole Anne of Green Gables series multiple times, and read the first two books of the Harper Hall trilogy so much I think they’re indelibly printed on my psyche. I think my habits changed when I started earning my own money and could buy new books when I wanted them. Now there are so many new, unread books on my shelves that I almost never reread anymore, but I’m trying to get back into at least looking into the old favorites from time to time. It’s amazing how they change– I don’t remember finding The Three Musketeers at all funny, for example, and now it’s hilarious.

  • goshawk

    I’ve reread the Lord of the Rings every couple years since I first read it at…oh, nine years old, maybe? Mostly hopping to favourite passages and plot points, though every four years or so I do a really thorough read, not missing a single song or poem. I find it soothing and centering. After that, I reread Tamora Pierce’s series a lot, because they make me happy. Also Elizabeth Bear, because a lot of her stuff (especially her sci-fi) really hits my id in the right place.

  • Red Garner

    I reread the Secret Garden in the spring and American Gods in the winter. Plus, I’ve read the whole of Harry Potter like 6 times now.

  • sarah durand

    I’ve read The Lord of the Rings each year, and I’ve found myself picking up Dune sometimes every couple of months.  There are others of course, but those two always seem to need a reading :)  

  • sarah durand

    I remember when I got my first job and the same year our town had its first book store open.  I still have my first books, some of which were the Pern books.  I still have them 20 years later and I still love picking them up and being Menolly again (or Lessa lol)

  • Amphigorey

    I’ve lost count of how often I’ve read The Last Unicorn. I first read it when I was six and it hasn’t stopped being wonderful.

  • Codi Brooke Berry

    I have literally read the covers off of my copies of Tamora Pierce’s Song of the LIoness Quartet. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve read them since I first started at 11 and all her other books are just as wonderful. Yay Tamora Pierce!!!

  • Marisa

    Just a quick reply to a fellow Anne fan.  Did you read the Emily series?  

  • Marisa

    Little Women gets revisited frequently.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve reread Ella Enchanted more than I can count (I love retold fairy tale novels, and that was my first), but probably I’ve read “The Thief” and sequel “The Queen of Attolia” by Megan Whalen Turner the most. My car license plate is “ATTOLIA”.

  • JoAnna Luffman

    I reread “Tailchaser’s Song” by Tad Williams. Great book. I finally stopped when the 3rd readthrough we had another bad storm – first was a hurricane that came inland (Hugo in 89) then 2 different snowstorms that shut off power and kept us locked in for 3 days. 

    I took it as a sign.

  • Deceleration Waltz

    Terry Pratchett’s Feet of Clay. It’s so goddamn hilarious and well-plotted that I can’t help but come back to it at least once a year.

  • barbara

    ‘Shadowland’ by Peter Straub.  I’ve been re-reading it every couple of years since I was in high school.  I feel like I know the characters as well as if they were members of my own family.

  • Snow Wildsmith

    I read

  •!/haversam [A]

    So tell me.. If I read a good book twice, does that heal the damage done by reading a bad book once..?

  •!/haversam [A]

     ..and I’ve read Raymond Carver’s CATHEDRAL who-knows-how many times

  • Heather H

    I do a re-read of the entire Outlander series every time a new book is pending.  Currently on Voyager, prolly the 6th or 8th time I’ve read it.  It feels like comfort food.

  • TDF Pamela

    I’ve re-read the Harry Potter series an absurd number of times, and I find something new each time I read. Those books are like my safety blanket. If I can’t decide what else to read, or if I just need to get into a comfortable world, I read Potter.

  • Angie Boo

    I reread the Dresden series every time a new book comes out. I used to do that with the Sookie books, Kim Harrison’s Hollows and a bunch of other series but I’m trying to read more new books. I have a lot.

  • Rachel Radwanski

    I’ve reread Beauty by Robin McKinley multiple times, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at least 7 times, and almost all of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett twice (exceptions: Eric, The Colour of Magic, some of the YA Discworld novels and the new one Snuff). I try to reread Hogfather by Pratchett every year around the holidays, mostly because I think it’s an interesting look at the importance of holidays for the human condition. 

    I’ve also reread Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, an excellent cold, winter weather book. 

  • Lilly

    I read Pride & Prejudice and Watership Down at least once a year…can’t help it!

  • Zharre

    When I was young…about 12, or so, my dad got this book by Stephen King & Peter Straub called ‘The Talisman’. I borrowed this book and… totally lost myself. The protagonist was a boy my age. I think I read this book every 2 or 3 months for YEARS.

    Then when I was in high school, I discovered ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ by Robert Heinlein. This book would become one of the most important books in my life, by simple fact that I read it so dang much. Why? I don’t know. I first read it ‘at the right time’, or something.

    Maybe those two books are why I am a complete fantasy/sci-fi nutcase, even now as I edge towards 40? There are a lot of other books that I have read (and have re-read, and continue to re-read) quite often, but those two would be the two that had the biggest mark, the biggest imprint upon me.

  • Eva Marie Heater

     Sometimes it’s like a different book entirely.

  • Eva Marie Heater

     I’m that way with Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe novels. In a way, Wolfe and Archie are sort of real to me.

  • jetmilton

    Every 5 years I reread Mists of Avalon and The Darktower Series by Stephen King.  Its amazing what five years can do as far as giving you new perspective.  There are so many that I like to revist that when my husband sees me with a book he usually asks “so how many times have you reread that one?”

  • Kate

    I do the same thing. Especially when life’s getting to be a little more than I can deal with; re-visiting one of my favorite “places” or my favorite “people” always helps me out!  Plus I have several books that routinely get read at least once a year. Terry Pratchett’s “Hogfather” is read every Christmas. Elizabeth Moon’s “Deed of Paksenarrion” is such a good friend that I’ve worn out one paper-back copy, am making in-roads on the second, have a hardback as a backup, and a digital copy for on the road. There’s just something about certain books that speaks to you!

  • mb presents

    i’ve reread lot’s of books from terry pratchett to marian keyes, from
    jane austen to charlaine harris. the last installment of the sookie books
    has been on my phone in audiobook format since last june and i’ve
    listened to it at least 15 times.. it soothes me and helps me fall asleep

  • Julia Watson

    I read Swiss Family Robinson 13 times by the time I was 12.

  • Life Lessons

    I broke my foot three months ago and re-reading Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books has really helped.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    I reread something by Tamora Pierce at least twice a year.  I discovered Alanna: The First Adventure in the third grade and the rest of the series was extremely influential in how I saw myself as a girl in the world.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    When I first met her at a book signing I had my over-a-decade old copy of “Alanna: The First Adventure” for her to sign and it was falling apart.  She loved how well-read it was. :)

  • Carmen Sandiego

    I really enjoyed Ella Enchanted, it’s a shame the movie was so horrible and not anything like the book at all.

  • Anonymous

     I refused to watch the movie after seeing the trailer…and it turned me off from Anne Hathaway for many years.

  • Pamela Cunningham

    I’ve read Dune more times than I can count; I try to read it once a year. Lord of the Rings is a good read when I want something deep and comfortable.  And Crystal Singer is, for some reason, something I pick up over and over again.

  • Casey

    Yes!  I’ve gone through two copies of Mists of Avalon, rereading it so many times.  I was looking through these comments hoping someone would have Mists on here!  *MZB high five*

  • Darren Vallance

    I have read the Count of Monte Cristo a number of times. The characters are amazing, the descriptions of the location phenomenal, and it taught me so much about how revenge should be accomplished.

  • VyletteFairwell

    My go to Re_reads in times of stressor Sadness are the first six Valdemar (Magics and Arrows) novels by Mercedes Lackey, and then the Oathbreakers (Valdemar adjacent)series by Lackey as well and then if life is still crap, any of the Regency novel series by Marion Chesney.  If that doesn’t work it’s time for the big gun Bertrice Small and Ben & Jerry

  • Sandra Dee White

    Lackey. If I don’t know what to read I pick up Lackey.

  • Darren Vallance

    Most of Heinlein’s books have been a permanent fixture on my shelves. I finally saved up enough to grab this and am eagerly awaiting their arrival.

  • Jen Papadopoulos

    American Gods and Snowcrash usually get picked up at least once a year for me. As does Neverwhere, and the Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels series. Oh and Bet Me by Jennifer Cruisie when I’m in the mood for romantic fluff reading.

  • K Shorten

    Every two or three years I pick up and re-read the entire Wheel of Time – of course with the last one coming out January of next year, I’ve got to do it again next winter.

    That and Howl’s moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones.

  • K. Traylor

    I did, but for whatever reason they didn’t make the same impression on me. I think I thought of Emily as a less cool version of Anne.

  • Anonymous

    the perks of being a wallflower!  read banned books!

  • Eli Cn

    Honestly, I read so fast and have such an addiction that it is very rare that I don’t re-read things.  If it’s a poorly written book, it goes into a special file on the hard drive or the local book exchange.

    If I was going to pick something that I looked for for years to re-read, though I would have to choose The President’s Daughter series by Ellen Emerson White.  When I was 10 or 11, I read the first three books and loved them.  Through moves and other situations, I lost my copies of these books.  And they were out of print!  So for probably close to ten years, I would look of and on at the book exchange and other places to find them.  In 2007, she re-released the updated series and a fourth book.  I now own all four books and adore them.  Looking back after reading them as an adult, I can’t believe my Mom allowed me to read the third book that young.  As an adult, absolutely wonderful books!  I definitely got a new, more emotional perspective.

    I have many other books that I have re-read, but that series was the one I remembered and wanted again for years.

  • Teri Santos

    Pretty sure I’ve read “American Gods” about 20 times since it came out in 2001.

  • Ross Anderson

    For me, ‘Hoka!’ (Gordon R. Dickson & Poul Anderson) never fails to entertain or satisfy.  If I’m not in the mood for SF, then the ‘Hornblower’ series by Forrester, or ‘Shell Scott’ PI series by Prather.

  • Wonder

    I’ve re-read “A Wrinkle in Time” a few times over the years. When I read it as a 10-year old, it was an exciting adventure story. When I re-read it in my thirties, I actually sobbed through parts of the last chapter.

  • Amy R

    I have re read Dune by Frank Herbert SO many times. It does get better every time, and the names, languages and places are comforting like old friends…
    I also read LOTR abut once a year..

  • Anonymous

    “A Wrinkle in Time” is definitely on my short list.  Madeline L’Engle was my first favorite author.  I have a couple of her books I’ve read several times.  “Caddie Woodlawn” was another one of my favorites.  Give me a smart adventuresome girl and a compelling plot and I’m set for a good long while.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll add plays. Arcadia (Tom Stoppard) and (obvious choice) Hamlet get deeper every time I read them.

    It’s a good point about the way subsequent readings or viewings differ from the first. Some films that have disappointed me with weak story structure have been much more enjoyable on a second visit where the demand to be gripped by the plot is relaxed and other elements (of style, character etc) can be enjoyed more freely.