Writing a successful novel certainly requires talent. But it also requires a particular skill set, inspiration, and practice. I’m always intrigued by what goes into writing a book. And now it seems I have learned part of the answer. When writing books, authors like to reread their own favorites.
According to this essay in The New York Times, authors are constantly rereading books. Not only does it inspire them to write better, but it also influences their writing — the way they construct dialogue or describe a setting. Stephen King admits he’s reread his five favorite books at least half a dozen times each.
Other authors admitted to rereading only a certain authors’ novels over and over again — like Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen, or Shakespeare. Writing is a craft, and it seems as though rereading other books is one of the most favorable ways to develop their own style.
No, this isn’t a newsy blog post. Nor is it a review. But I found it interesting, particularly because it’s very rare that I reread anything.
The only book I truly recall rereading was a Michelle Kwan autobiography that came out around 1997. I was so amazed by her beauty and grace that I wanted to be able to recall every detail about her life. I think I read that book about 7 times. Other than that, I’ve read some of the classics a couple times over, but it’s generally not something I do. As Stephen King says “So many books, so little time.” Why reread when you can read something new?
But there are books I’d love to reread — Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. I don’t have any secret hopes or dreams of becoming a great novelist, but maybe it’s time I dig into my bookshelf and pick up one of my old favorites again. And maybe you should too. You never know what you’ll uncover a second time around.