Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Re-reading books bring new perspectives

Rosa Park

Throughout my life, I tend to gravitate towards books that have moved me. As a prolific reader, books tend to shape my world and challenge my perspective. Books are like people, and it takes a lifetime to get to know them. 

As college students, our brains are constantly developing. We are learning and absorbing new information daily, some of which challenges and changes our world view. Re-reading books can serve as bookmarks for your intellectual and emotional growth as you can see how your interpretation of the text changes as you change.

“If it’s a good work of literature, you’re going to uncover things, but as you grow older, you see different things too, because your perspective on life changes,” said Douglas Biow, professor of Italian Studies and director for European Studies at the France-UT institute. 

Re-reading novels, especially ones that contain societal commentary, can help students engage with the philosophical debates of that time period, helping them gain perspective. Reading stories with established and complex characters can aid in student’s understanding of issues pertaining to class, gender and race. Revisiting books such as “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (the most taught work of American literature) with an experienced/educated lens might make you question Twain’s intent with characters such as Jim, who lacks an in-depth characterization. 

“We change and the books change with us,” Biow said. “It’s a way of measuring your own change, too. If you think about it, you’re marking the passage of time in your own life.”

I find that once a couple years have passed, the books feel fresh, like I am reading them for the first time. Great books have several levels of depth that take more than one read to grasp. Some of the best novels have taken a decade to write, so how could one read suffice in grasping all of its nuance?

“Knowing certain works really, really well is like knowing a person really well,” Biow said.

Books like “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, “The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy and “Norwegian Wood” by Haruki Murakami emphasize the value of revisiting worthwhile pieces of literature. I have reread these rich pieces of literature this year, and I find myself in awe of their storytelling abilities. In each one of these novels, I am always able to find something new within their text. 

“I think that it’s rewarding going up to a painting, staring at it and walking to the next one,” Biow said. “But if you really are a painter, and you’re thinking about what it’s like to create, you want to unpack it and figure out what’s going on.”

Re-reading books can help readers and writers further engage with the author’s work. Studying how really good writers get beneath the surface of plot line to develop motifs, symbols and characters can make re-reading turn into a masterclass for great writing. Novels that wield the art of storytelling can help writers understand what makes a great story.

“I always re-read,” Biow said. “It’s difficult not to.”

Books tell stories like no other medium. No movie, painting nor song can do what a book can. Books allow us to live in a different world, embody a character and make value judgments using just the power of words. 

Re-reading your favorite novels allows you to embark on an intellectual and emotional journey  through familiar terrain. I encourage everyone to find a book they’ve connected with in the past, dust off the pages, and re-read it. Maybe you will come out with a new perspective. 

Kondaveeti is an English junior from Austin, Texas.

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