To reread or not to reread?

Discussion - rereading

Last month I reread a couple of my favourite books (ahead of the release of the last book in a series) but before I did this I had a real internal struggle about whether or not this was the best way that I could be using my reading time. Here are some of the pros and cons I debated over.

Pros:

  • Rereading is comforting. I know I’m going to enjoy it. There’s usually a reason I loved the book in the first place. The characters are familiar and it can be great escapism – like watching Home Alone every Christmas.
  • You notice things you never noticed the first time around. The first time reading, I’m usually focused on the plot and what’s going to happen next. The second time is for all the tiny details that I might never have noticed if I hadn’t committed to a reread.
  • It helps refresh your memory of books and revive your enthusiasm when there’s been a gap between releases. I’m particularly bad for forgetting everything that happened in a series and feeling totally lost when I pick up the latest release.
  • Personally, rereading books can help to lift me out of a reading slump. Sometimes I can’t decide what to read next or struggle to get excited about anything, but falling back on an old favourite for a bit of a break can be really helpful in pushing past this.

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What is ‘fan fiction’?

Discussion - fan fiction

I’ve never really read any ‘fan fiction’ – as I’d define it – until a few weeks ago I saw a Buzzfeed article recommending their top pieces of Harry Potter fan fiction. I thought I’d check one out actually quite enjoyed it!

Generally, fan fiction still has a questionable rep. Some people see it as ‘ripping off’ other people’s characters and ideas. Also, it seems to me that there’s an awful lot of bad, mad and downright weird fan fiction out there on the internet, and that to find something good you have to get lucky or follow recommendations from others. The result is that most people don’t consider fan fiction to be ‘real’ writing.

But essentially, fan fiction is taking the universe or characters that someone has created and using them to tell a new story. This got me thinking about just how many popular books that could essentially be classed as fan fiction.

For instance, sequels to a whole range of books have been taken on and written by new, different authors, from ‘Scarlett’, the follow up to Margaret Mitchell’s epic ‘Gone with the Wind’ to the recent continuation of the late Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy by David Lagercrantz. Many recent authors have also taken inspiration from secondary characters in timeless classics and given them their own imagined storyline, such as in Jo Baker’s ‘Longbourn’ (Pride and Prejudice taken below stairs) or in Gregory Maguire’s ‘Wicked’ series (looking at the other side of the wicked witch of the west).

These are just a few examples. When you start thinking about it properly you can come up with hundreds.

I think for me the main definition of ‘fan fiction’, as I understand it, is that it can be written by anyone and posted online for everyone else to read for free if they can find it. Expansions or continuations indeed are a version of fan fiction, but have been selected by publishers as an officially recognised original piece of work. However, these lines may blur as more and more people self-publish their work.

To me, it feels like books picked up by a publisher carry more weight, and that they’ve been selected because they’re the best that this genre has to offer. Plus my TBR is already longer then I can ever hope to handle, so I just don’t have time to dedicate to wading through the vast expanse of fan fiction available on the internet.

I do recognise that I might well be biased in my views though, as I haven’t had much exposure to good fan fiction. I’m more than willing to try reading more though, so if you have any suggestions, please do comment and let me know!

What does everyone think about fan fiction? Do you read it?