Why I re-read

John Jakala recently pondered the re-readability of manga… the “keepers” on the shelves that you revisit instead of donating to the library or selling or trading. As I started composing my own list, I thought about what general qualities make a book re-readable for me, or what I’m looking for as I identify the keepers.

One thing that’s true of almost any entertainment I enjoy over and over again, whether it’s a book or a movie or a comic or whatever, is a lightness of spirit. Maybe it’s shallow, but I think a big factor in re-readability is comfort and escape. I pick up a comic again because it made me smile the first time I read it, and I likely could use the mood boost. (It’s sort of the same as comfort food. Mashed potatoes and grilled cheese sandwiches aren’t culinary challenges or super foods, but they soothe. They’re reliable.)

There’s a spin-off of that category that I’ve described as “bathtub manga.” In this class, the comedy doesn’t need to be laugh-out-loud, but it should be a significant component of the work. “Bittersweet” might be the best term for it. Prime bathtub manga, the ideal complement for a good, relaxing soak, is generally romantic in nature, though not necessarily mushy.

And while I’ll often go back to refresh my memory on past developments in sprawling sagas, the titles I re-read a lot tend to be either shorter series or stand-alone works. John mentioned Love Roma, which hits pretty much all of my re-readability buttons – funny, occasionally bittersweet, often romantic, and short. It’s sort of the platonic ideal for me. But I also find that I’m a lot more flexible when grabbing a one-volume story or collection of short stories to re-read. This category has more leeway in terms of complexity, and it extends to episodic titles that feature a regular cast engaged in stand-alone stories, books where there’s a formula but not necessarily a driving narrative that carries from volume to volume.

Up later: What I re-read.

6 Responses to Why I re-read

  1. […] list of re-readable manga. David Welsh at Precocious Curmudgeon has also chimed in with a post on why he re-reads. Since I’m always re-reading books I love, I thought this would be a great subject for a […]

  2. jun says:

    I haven’t reread a manga series yet, I don’t think, because there’s so much awesome stuff out there that I haven’t even read once. However, I have two series in the to-read pile that I’ve read before: Card Captor Sakura and Marmalade Boy. I think both of them fit your requirement of a comforting lightness of spirit.

  3. jun says:

    Hm, I had a comment here about my wanting to reread Cardcaptor Sakura and Marmalade Boy, but it seems to’ve gone poof. Anyhow, I’d said that these two seemed to fit your comfort read requirements, too.

  4. davidpwelsh says:

    Sorry, Jun! I was marking something else as spam (one of those obnoxious people who swipe the content of others and post it on their own blogs for whatever reason) and clicked the wrong message.

  5. jun says:

    No worries. 🙂 I get comments like that all the time from sites that’re poaching Brigid’s hard work for MangaBlog.

  6. davidpwelsh says:

    Oh, yeah, those definitely come in the largest volume, and from all over the globe. This one was someone posting Tom Spurgeon’s Quick Hits without any credit to the original source.

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