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Nostalgia Trip: Why You Should Reread Your Old Favorite Books

Since most people know I’m a creative writing major, it doesn’t surprise them one bit when they find out that when I was a kid, I read a lot of books. I consumed everything I could get my hands on, from nonfiction to standalone novels, YA fiction to my parents’ books that I would steal from the big bookshelves in our family room. I couldn’t get enough, but my truest literary love for as long as I can remember has been book series.

I’m the kind of person who tends to fall in love with characters, getting easily attached to them and invested in their stories. When I finish a novel, even if the ending is satisfying, it’s never enough for me; I’ve always loved to dream about the characters going on new adventures, even the most mundane things. (Needless to say, I read a lot of fan fiction in middle and high school.) That’s where the big appeal lies to me in trilogies and book series; the fun doesn’t end after just one book. I get to follow my favorite characters through three, four, sometimes five books and beyond, staying with them as long as I can before I have to close the book and let them go. You name the series, I’ve probably read it: Eragon, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and more have graced my bookshelves my entire life, remaining with me even as I entered college like old friends.

After graduating from high school, I stopped reading for pleasure as much as I used to, and the novels I tend to pick up nowadays often concern more mature and serious subject matter. But this past summer I was struck with a bout of nostalgia, and I found myself longing for the books of my youth, packed with adventure and fantasy and protagonists that crack jokes while they save the world. The books I loved couldn’t possibly be as good as I remembered them being, could they? I held off on rereading them for weeks, worried about letting down my expectations, before finally caving and shoving the first two books of Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series into my backpack as my family left for a summer vacation.

I fell in love all over again. Even at age nineteen, Percy Jackson and his demigod companions charmed me as much as they first had when I was in middle school. I raced through the first two books in three days, spending the rest of our vacation itching to get back home and find out what happened; it had been so long since I’d revisited the world of Camp Half-Blood, I’d forgotten the ending. Even though they were books I’d read multiple times before, I couldn’t for the life of me remember the last time I’d been so invested in a book. Series still held magic for me even after I thought I’d moved on from them.

There’s a sort of stigma around reading book series, this idea that they’re only for kids or people who don’t have a college reading level. I stayed away from old favorites or gave up on them while they were still going; I was embarrassed to read them in public, feeling like I couldn’t study literature and still love these stories and characters the way I do. But the reality is: they’re good stories with interesting characters and often happy endings. Even well into adulthood, everyone can benefit from good stories and happy endings.

This past semester, I kept up the trend of returning to beloved favorites and restarted the Inheritance cycle by rereading Eragon. I asked for the fourth and final book for Christmas and finished it in less than three days. Sure, the writing could use some work at points, but Christopher Paolini is as good a storyteller as I remember him being when I first read the books in elementary school, and it’s thrilling to dive back into a world of dragons and elves and magic. I’ve never been so glad that I listened to that little voice inside my head and gave into the nostalgia of rereading books. There’s something incredibly rewarding about revisiting the familiar.

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