But You Know the Ending! Why I Reread and Re-watch My Favorites

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
What draws you back?
I’m a voracious reader. At any given time I’m reading at least three books. I know very little about today’s music, even though I was a radio announcer for several years, because all my audio listening is books now.

I also love to reread books and re-listen to audiobooks. There are just some writers whose words are put down in such a way that I can read them over and over. I feel that way about Little Women. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read it. I also feel that way about Nora Roberts’ trilogy about the Three Sisters Island. I’ve got the paperback books, I have them on my Kindle, and they’re on my audible files. Every once in a while I have to reread these books and I want them available quickly.

With the Three Sisters and Little Women, I think it’s the characterizations that draw me back time and again. They’re all strong women who overcome adversity and even death. They’re willing to do whatever it takes to keep or save what they have. I appreciate that.

Some of you may be offended that I mentioned these two books with the same passion, but I don’t worry about classics or romance or even genre.

I’m the same way about movies and TV shows. I’ve seen Bull Durham countless times. I love the opening line, “I believe in the church of baseball.” And I have a strong appreciation for Kevin Costner’s slow smile when he’s sitting in the porch swing waiting for Susan Sarandon at the end of the movie. I also love the characters. Everything takes place during the short summer season of baseball, which I adore. The game has been special to me since my boys began playing. I learned as much as I could about it so by the time Scott played in high school and college, I truly understood the game. Which is why can watch Bull Durham and For Love of the Game again and again . . . and Kevin Costner’s easy on the eyes too.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Classically re-readable.
I believe we often reread books that have characters with whom we identify more deeply. I have a friend who read To Kill a Mockingbird as a teenager and has read it every year since. She feels a strong pull to Scout and just can’t let it go. I understand that completely. I often go back and reread Flannery O’Connor’s story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” It speaks to my Southern roots in a special way. And frankly, there’s a member of my family who’s a great deal like the mother in the story.

I’m a big fan of the TV show, NCIS and will usually watch it whenever it comes on. Whether it’s being rerun for the fifteenth time on the USA Network or if it’s an episode being rerun on CBS, I catch it if I can. I feel like I know these characters and I get strongly involved in the stories from week to week. When Kate was killed in season 2 I was shocked and felt stunned for several days. I really liked Kate and felt a loss when she died. Thank goodness Sasha Alexander showed up again on Rizzoli & Isles!

MASH Season 7
Just as funny the second time around.
I also feel that way about M*A*S*H, which I still watch on TV Land. Those thirty-minute plays were a strong advocate for the social issues of the day and wrapped them in the context of the Korean War. It worked because so many of the issues faced by Americans back in 1950-51 are still on our agendas today. We’ve come a long way, but we still keep taking one step forward and two steps back.

I love to learn about new writers and love that I can get free samples of books on my Kindle and iPad. I’ve also been known to discover a good writer on the bargain table of hardback books, too. That’s how I was able to get most of Robert B. Parker’s books in hardback, watching those bargain books. I’ve read the complete series at least three times, and, frankly, it never gets old. It took me a while, but I finally got the courage to read Ace Atkins’s novel, Lullaby, the continuation of the Spenser series. I’m happy to say I’ll keep reading about the smooth private investigator.

Ernest Hemingway is incredible; John Steinbeck often confuses me; I studied Lord of the Flies by William Golding in ninth grade and again in twelfth—I’m glad I studied all these wonderful writers. But I don’t reread their books and that’s just a matter of taste on my part. I do go back and read literature occasionally. I ran across a copy of Dubliners by James Joyce recently and I read every word. I do like to read, but I don’t always reread. That doesn’t make me lowbrow; it just means I read for entertainment these days.

They say you should find your passion, and I have with stories. I’ll read it once, listen to it twice, and see it once again for a long, long time.

That’s just how I am.

What about you? Do you reread? Why? And what?

Leigh Neely is a former newspaper and magazine editor. She currently does freelance work, blogs at womenofmystery.net, and recently wrote the short story, “A Vampire in Brooklyn,” which is in the anthology, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices. She and her writing partner, Jan Powell, have a paranormal novel, Second Nature, under the pseudonym Neely Powell coming out in early 2013.

Read all posts by Leigh Neely for Criminal Element.


  1. Deborah Lacy

    @Leigh – I do re-read and love it. One of my favorites to re-read is The Eight by Katherine Neville. And I will watch Independence Day any time it is on. Re-reading or re-watching is like getting together with an old friend. Great post.

  2. Leigh

    I feel the same way about Independence Day. What a great movie!

  3. Carmen Pinzon

    I love For Love of the Game and watch it every chance I get.

    I’m an compulsive re-reader/watcher. I have favorites for every mood, from mystery (Dorothy L. Sayer / The Thin Man) to comedy (Undead & Unwed / The Blues Brothers) etc. Sometimes I’m just so disappointed with new stuff coming out that going back to a proven hit is necesary for my well being.

  4. Eleanor (Ellie) Miller

    Perhaps it’s my age showing (76), but rereading occupies more and more of my attention these days. Books I’ve loved initially are a ‘safe place’ to return to if or whenever life hands me a surprising lemon or two. Not just single books but and especially series where you (or I) just want to linger a while longer in the author’s world with characters whom they’ve created that I love and can relate to…happily “begin at the beginning and go on until you’re through”…cases in point? Kate Wilhelm’s Barbara Holloway novels or Anne Perry’s Charlotte and William Pitt ones. And oh, how I love my golden oldies: Anthony Boucher, Ellery Queen, John Dickson Carr…I can’t count how many times Mary Roberts Rinehart’s “The Great Mistake” has held me fast. Frances Parkinson Keyes is another favorite. Reaching waaay back, Temple Bailey. You know, rereading may well be the ultimate pleasure for a book junky like myself. You KNOW and remember that – whatever’s? – good to begin with, so by doing so, now you have the added pleasure of rediscovering just why.

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