{Fireside Fridays} A Secret to Finding Good Books


How do you find good books?? So beg many people I know, and so I myself have often wondered despairingly. There are actually a number of great answers to this question, but I’m going to offer one that is less common. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone mention it before. But it has helped me find many books that are now some of my most favorite.

*lets the suspense build*

Okay, here we go:

Retry a book you disliked or couldn’t finish in the past.


We’ve all picked up a book that we really wanted to like but ended up tossing it because it just didn’t click. Maybe you didn’t understand it or got bored to death. I’ve lost track (actually, I never started counting, but anyway) of how many books I’ve just dropped because they didn’t interest me or they made no sense whatsoever.

But here’s the thing: We change. We mature. We learn and grow. Especially for teens, you are by no means the same person you were a year or two ago. Your mind can grasp more now, your tastes have shifted, you appreciate different, deeper things. That’s why today you can pick up a book you gave up on a few years ago and absolutely love it this time.

Here’s are a few books that I either hated or didn’t finish the first time, but that I now love:

  • 100 Cupboards by N. D. Wilson
  • The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien (took me three tries to read it all the way through)
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Paradise Lost by John Milton

Then there are some books I thought were, you know, good, but that I reread and felt like I was discovering them for the first time. How could I have missed their depth, richness, meaning, and beauty the first time?

  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis
  • 1984 and Animal Farm by George Orwell (first time for both of those I was creeped out; second time I was still creeped out but I also learned to appreciate their messages and genius)
  • Beowulf

Often it takes me at least twice to truly appreciate and understand a book. As I grow older, my ability to delve into it grows as well.

Now, I know: You had a bad or at least disapointing experience with a book. Why on earth would you want to try it again? What a waste of time! I’ve often felt the same way, but I’ve forced myself to try that book again because my friends just won’t stop talking about it, and I’ve got to be missing something. Almost always, I have been thankful that I did. Look at those books listed above—I never would have read or enjoyed them had I not braced myself and tried again.

Of course, I’m not guaranteeing that you’ll absolutely love whatever book you trashed a few years ago. Sometimes, it’s just not your book, and you’ll never like it, which is completely fine. Don’t get depressed—just go out and keep looking. And obviously, don’t try a book that you put down for moral reasons. Well, let me caveat that: Sometimes, we can handle certain elements now that we couldn’t a few years ago. You wouldn’t let a kid read 1984 or Crime and Punishment, but they are brilliant masterpieces that more mature people can relish. You have to judge for yourself if the book is just plain bad and shouldn’t be read at any age, or if you are now ready to handle it. Research and talking to people have read it can help with that.

One last note: There’s no guideline to how long you should wait until you try a book again. I’d say at least a year, but sometimes all it takes is a few months to help change your perspective. Sometimes, you’ll need several years. I usually just go by my mood—do I feel ready to try it again? Do I feel interested in it again? Am I so desperate for reading material I’ll try anything?

So, are you looking for a good book to dive into? Be brave and try one that just didn’t grab you the first time. You may be very pleasantly surprised.

Has this ever happened to you, my awesome readers? What books did you retry or reread and come to love? 


9 responses to “{Fireside Fridays} A Secret to Finding Good Books”

  1. OH YES! Paradise Lost is so . . . I never finished it when it wa assigned for school. But I feel like I should go back and give it another shot.

    Yes! All of the books you mentioned in read several times are all SO good. Animal Farm definitely creeped me out, too, but I recommend it to people of maturity all the time, because it really does get the message across if you can receive it! And A Tale of Two Cities it took me forever to get into, and then I loved it! It’s so funny the way that happens.

    Great post, full of insight, as always 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You really should. It’s so rich and beautiful.
      I love when other people have read the books I have. =) I totally agree about Animal Farm, and the same thing happened for me with A Tale of Two Cities. I think that happens to me a lot with books—they take me a long time to get into, but once I do, I love them.
      Thanks so much for your kind words, Abi.


  2. This has definitely happened to me. The first time I read Anne of Green Gables, I liked bits well enough, but generally wasn’t thrilled. The second time around, I enjoyed it much more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had the same experience with Anne of Green Gables! I need to give it another shot, because I know I should like it!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Ah yes, that happened to me a bit too. I think I was too young the first time I read it. =P Have you watched the movies?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have not watched the movies, no. (Nor have I read any of the books after the first.)


  3. Judith L. Livingstone Avatar
    Judith L. Livingstone

    Dearest Abby,

    One book that I reread was “The Catcher in the Rye”. I first read it in my twenties and reread it in my seventies. Of course in my seventies I had a totally different perspective. I think I enjoyed it both times. I have just finished rereading “The Great Gatsby”. I cannot believe what a fantastic book it really is and it is so well written. Your Uncle Paul read it over and over when he was in high school.

    All my love,



  4. The first time I managed to read the Sil it felt like reading the books of Leviticus and Numbers the first time. So much talk about land and Elves whose names started with F and…agh. But then the second time I read it it was so beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, exactly. And the F thing is so true. xD But once I finally read it all the way through, I realized its beauty.


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