The Importance of Rereading


Rereading consists of on-going and repeated encounters with a text, guided by a particular task so that segments of the text get revisited and rethought.

“I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.” – C.S. Lewis

In fact, rereading is the most effective type of reading, especially of foreign language texts, because it offers learners the opportunity to re-think messages and see features they have not noticed in initial reading. Having said that, there are good reasons for rereading any old text.

When learners read through the whole text two or three times, they will find that their own comprehension of the text improves, especially if their goal is to find how information is presented or arranged in that text—how it is sequenced and weighted. Such assessments help readers take a further analytic step. Readers start identifying ways a text’s structure or semantics can suggest a point of view (positive, negative, dismissive, laudatory, impartial, incomplete, etc.) or an approach typical or atypical for the text’s genre.

“It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.” – C.S. Lewis

To further argue the case for rereading texts, let’s examine some the arguments involved.

1. It reminds you of the good ideas
Research shows that in just 24 hours people will forget most of what they have read. You might get a lot of good ideas from a book, but it is easy to forget most of them. Rereading a book helps you refresh those ideas in your mind.

2. It helps you notice the ideas you did not notice before
Just as it is easy to forget ideas, it is also easy to have some ideas skip your attention when you first read a book. Rereading the book helps you notice the things you may have missed first time around.

“You could not step twice into the same river.” – Heraclitus of Ephesus, (As quoted in Plato, Cratylus, 402a)

3. It gives you a new perspective
Rereading a book allows you to see everything with fresh eyes. The ideas that did not make sense before could now make sense; and the things that did not matter before could now be connected to your new experience.

4. It helps you apply the ideas
The primary value of reading is the application and not the reading itself. Mere reading could expand your knowledge but application could change your life. By rereading a book, you can see which parts of it you have applied and which parts have not. You can then focus your effort on the parts that need more work.

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