The Raphael Rerun Principle by Laura Raphael

The joke in my family is that I like reruns. From leftover pizza to watching that same episode of “Friends” for the tenth time, I find comfort in returning to what I’ve already encountered.

While this belies a rather conservative streak in my character, I suppose, I have an additional explanation: re-watching or re-reading (or re-eating) can also be a richer experience, deeper and more rewarding the second time round than the first.

Read The Great Gatsby or The Sound and the Fury multiple times, at multiple points in a life, and you’ll find the novels change with each reading, with different scenes or characters or passages standing out at different times.

I was reminded of this idea (let’s call it the Raphael Rerun Principle, shall we?) not, in fact, while I was re-reading a great book, but while I read a sequel to a series I’d loved fifteen or so years ago, which made me want to go back and re-read the originals. In something now called “The Barrytown Trilogy” – The Commitments, The Snapper, and The Van – the great Irish novelist Roddy Doyle created an inexorably full, funny, and delightful setting and cast of characters. It’s the reason I went to Ireland for a week’s vacation in 1997, and returning to all of the lovely people and places in Doyle’s newest novel, The Guts, made me want to go back – to both the country and to his earlier works.

I’m sure that, when I do, I’ll see some things I missed before, and be touched by others that I wasn’t ready to handle yet. The Raphael Rerun Principle is real!


Julie, if you're looking for some reading suggestions, you might try Your Next Great Read:

LOL I do not jump to read books..I much I prefer to watch the secret garden there is a movie so I like to watch the movie instead of read!!! Ive been trying to get myself to read more by just finding books that interest me...Reading is important...and in order to have the best education need to read !!!!!

I don't reread unless I'm doing so for work. But, when I have reread favorites and they hold up, it's the most wonderful experience. My favorite rereads: The Hours by Michael Cunningham--man, that guy is brilliant; Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich--Wow; and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen--still perfect.

Ha! I have a shelf of books in my home that I refer to as the "read 'em again and again" books. There are a lot of authors that I will likely read only one time... but on that shelf, books get pulled randomly to be read at any time, over and over. Books like A Confederacy of Dunces, Huckleberry Finn, anything by Harry Crews or Joe Lansdale, and Edith Grossman's translation of Don Quixote are just a few titles that I can name off the top of my head that are on the shelf as we speak.

I often long to re-read books I loved and the second time around is always richer.  Some of my favorite re-reads are The Secret History by Donna Tartt, The Cider House Rules by John Irving, and Spies by Michael Frayn.

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