Pete and Repeat were sitting on a wall. Pete fell off. Who was left?

The Sunday Don’t worry this isn’t going to be a repeat. However, I have been thinking about repeats the last few days. Maybe it’s because I’m rereading A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. Or maybe it’s because I’m rewatching the series Cheers on Netflix Instant. Or the fact that last night while in a chatroom at Tribal Blogs, I found myself referring back to an old post, Senor Largo Calcetines: Last in cross country, first in your hearts. Whatever it is, I woke up this morning, thinking about repeats again.

I first wondered whether I preferred rereading a book or rewatching a TV show or movie and decided I think I would prefer to reread a book nine times out of 10. The 10th time, of course, would be Cheers. But why would I prefer rereading a book? For me, I guess it’s having a world reopen to you page by page, and that takes longer than a 22- to 43-minute episode of any show or even a two and half hour movie. I’m rediscovering characters, plots and settings that I had forgotten about. It’s like rewalking or rejogging a once-familiar route: “Ah, I remember that dog. I just don’t remember him being that big.” except in the case of the book, you can freeze-frame the dog and examine him up closely without him biting you (if the author has given you a good enough description). Or on the serious and more subtle side: “I remember that tree. I just don’t recall how beautiful it was even in the winter, when it had no leaves.”

Maybe it’s that absence makes the heart grow fonder. That presence, the thoughts that book engendered, is still there, buried in the subconscious and unlike a traumatic childhood memory, it’s one you want to resurrect.

Of course, maybe..nay, perhaps… I’m only thinking of that song because we’ve been rewatching the British series Coupling.

So why do you return to reruns or repeat a book? What brings you back? And which do you prefer: rereading a book or rewatching a TV show or movie?

17 responses to “Pete and Repeat were sitting on a wall. Pete fell off. Who was left?

  1. “Maybe it’s that absence makes the heart grow fonder. ”


    “So why do you return to reruns or repeat a book? What brings you back?”
    I read The Catcher In The Rye when I was 13. And then again in my 20’s because it had a much different meaning to me, later in life. And then I read it again in my 30’s.

    “And which do you prefer: rereading a book or rewatching a TV show or movie?”

    All of the above. But probably Television. I can [and do] watch re-runs of Seinfeld and Scrubs, a lot. And even though I know every line, in every episode, I still laugh like it’s the FIRST time.

  2. I re-read and re-watch frequently. I think there is a nostalgia factor that cannot be denied. For me, certain movies help me remember a special time or friend. TV shows bring back a younger me. Books, though, are different. There is always something new to learn upon re-reading a book, either about yourself or about the book itself. It is visit to a familiar world through new eyes that can make a re-read that much more special.

  3. I would rather re-read than watch TV but it really depends on my mood. I have watched Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail (along with a million other Tom Hanks or Meg Ryan movies) countless times. I can also cite a few books I’ve read over and over again for either pleasure or to really sink my teeth into them. I can’t do that with movies. Once you’ve watched a movie twice, you can’t watch it again as if for the first time. You can do that with books. As Kath mentions, there are so many new books to read but many of them aren’t worth reading once let alone re-reading. When I find a book that I want to re-read, I buy it. With movies, there’s always Netflix.

  4. I would say that the list of books I’ve re-read more than once is relatively small; when I was a kid I went through the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ series over and over, (I’m still coming to terms with the NY Times article I read that besmirched the purity and accuracy of those tales), and when I was older I read the LoTR series every summer. As an adult the only book I can say I’ve read three or four times is ‘A Prayer for Owen Meany’, which I think is a masterpiece.
    There are a lot more movies that I like to repeat. Most of the John Hughes 80s films. Goodfellas. And the ones I call my ‘comfort movies’– the Wynona Rider ‘Little Women’ and the quiet, dreamy and surreal ‘Lost in Translation’. I agree with what Pearl said about Knocked Up– while I think Judd Apatow does some funny stuff I don’t care for the constant crassness of his movies (and I had the dubious pleasure of watching three of them yesterday at work–Knocked Up, Funny People and the 40 Year-old Virgin), I find it unnecessary and distracting.

    (To explain: Yes, we watch movies at work when nothing is going on. And as the junior person on the shift, I don’t get to pick. Which is why I know more about wrestling now than I ever did.)

  5. I’d watched repeats on Seinfeld so many times that I know what words will come out of their mouths before they are spoken…LOL I also repeat: Golden Girls, King of Queens, and Sopranos when I get the chance, but I rarely will reread a book for some reason.

  6. Ok mindreader…get out of my head. I’ve been doing a lot of sewing lately which means that I get to retreat upstairs and watch whatever the heck I want to watch without having any interjections from the husband. So, I watch the same damn movies over and over and over. Sometimes if I’m not done with my sewing but don’t have enough to watch an entire new movie I’ll rewind the movie and watch the second half again.

    I was going to write my Sunday Salon post about comfort movies versus comfort books but figured maybe I’d just do a post later (ya right) about comfort movies.

    Anyway, all that to say I don’t re-read books often–there are several I’d LOVE to, but there’s too many other books I want to read for the first time first. But movies? I could watch the same damn movies over and over and over and over ad nauseum. πŸ˜‰ Drives my husband CRAZY.

    • I only have a handful of movies I could watch over and over again, with Gladiator being at the top of the list. My wife, though, has watched ad nauseam the Lord of the Rings movies…I admit I liked the books and the movies, but I don’t think I need to see it a million times or anything.

      Comfort books vs. comfort movies: I think that would be a good topic. My comfort movie definitely would be Gladiator. It’s the first movie to which I turn if I’m sick.

  7. I almost never reread books. To be reread, a book has to be pretty amazing.

    Here’s my Sunday Salon for today. Hope you will stop by.

  8. I prefer rereading books. Mostly because I developed a talent early in life to quickly forget what I read in order to reread it again. I grew up on a farm and we only had so many books. Plus, I find I always find something new when I reread a book.
    However, I am currently rewatching the X-files series for fun. Normally, I do not allow myself to watch any old episodes of shows as a way of limiting wasting my time.

    • Oooooh, I forgot all about The X-Files being available on Netflix Instant. Thanks for reminding me. πŸ™‚

      Um, yeah, did I ever mention that I get easily distracted? πŸ˜‰

  9. To be honest, I would far rather re-watch a movie or TV show (so long as it’s reallllly worth it) than re-read a book for the pure and simple fact that I’m often caught saying “Too many books, too little time” but never “Too much great TV, too little time”! To re-read a book it has to be amazing and even some books that I know I will someday want to re-read are way down the list below the ginormous pile of books I have yet to read. Not that re-reading a book isn’t something I want to do, but right now I feel so pressed for time that I just can’t justify it.

    Having read that and reflected on it, it seems I need to make more time in my life for simple pleasures like re-reading a good book. Hmmm…

    • Of course, now that I think about it…sigh…and this is why I shouldn’t write posts impromptu like this…I agree that often I’d rather re-watch a movie or TV show rather than reread a book for the same reason: too many books, too little time. Actually I’d rather read a book, period, than watch TV which is one of the reasons I’m cutting back on my Netflix queue (both Instant and not) as mentioned earlier this week.

      Naturally, by the time the next person comments, I’ll change my mind — and think I’d still rather reread a book than re-watch a TV show or movie. πŸ˜‰ Hey, what can I say? I’m not finished…yet.

  10. I do love rereading books, and last year, due to a challenge, I enjoyed re-experiencing some childhood moments.

    But I must admit that I probably watch more movies over and over….the visual images are more vivid than those in books. And sometimes I am caught up in what I was doing or feeling the first time I watched the movie; watching the movie Love Story takes me back to December 1970 and a new love I was enjoying.

    But books can do the same thing…it just takes longer to retrieve the moments, though.

    What does that say about me? Hmm….


    • It says “You’re a freak.” Oh, wait, did I type that out loud? πŸ˜‰ I think it must be a male-female thing with movies and music bringing back memories, because my wife associates specific music with specific times in her life too. I don’t click that way. I guess I have very short-term memory.

      What does that say about me? Hmmmm…

  11. I read Gone with the Wind three times — but I was a teenager at the time and therefore unpredictable and somewhat stupid.

    I admit to watching TV shows more than once. I think it’s the fact that I can trust them, that there won’t be anything ridiculous happening. I don’t care for how “shocking” some “entertainment” can be. There seems to be no such thing as a “contract with the audience” anymore, and that bothers me. Latest example? Well, I probably should’ve known better, seeing something called “Knocked Up”, but the full-on crotch shots at the end were a slap in the face, totally unnecessary and clearly cobbled in from some other film. Me and the two other people on the couch actually recoiled shouting “Whoa!” I mean, was that nice? Who could’ve been ready for the full-screen beaver?!


    • Hmmm. I don’t remember the “full-screen beaver” in “Knocked Up,” and, well, I’m a guy…um, a heterosexual guy…and should have remembered that…well, maybe not “should” for my wife who may be reading this ;), but I don’t remember it. Honestly.

      As a teenager, I read The Lord of the Rings several times myself. That’s about it, but that was predictable and…no, it wasn’t stupid. I enjoyed it and would do it again, if I had the choice.

      Hmmm, now you have me thinking that maybe I need to explore more…not watch all those reruns or reread a book. Instead, I need to pick up a new book. I like the ridiculous.