I remember from The Perks of Being a Wallflower that Charlie says that he reads every book twice, consecutively, in order to understand it. I also remember wondering, Who has the time?!
But I’ve come to see that I sort of need to read each Rowell book twice to really get a feel for it. I had this problem with Eleanor and Park, needing to reread the novel in order to fully appreciate the story.
I’m doing this again with Carry On, reading the book once again right after finishing.
This is an oddity for me, since I don’t typically reread an entire book right after finishing. If I do reread, it’s the scenes that I’ve flagged. But I can’t help it. I feel like I rushed Carry On, desperate to know what happened next and for the next scene featuring Simon/Baz adorableness.
And the reread has proven to be worth it. There are so many things that I wouldn’t have noticed—or rather, appreciated more—upon a second read. The madness of the mage, the harsh politics, the severe prejudice towards vampires, and Ebb’s absolute awesomeness were a few of the things that I sort of skimmed over the first time I read.
What I particularly like about the reread is that I appreciate Lucy’s chapters much, much more. In fact, they’re almost heartbreaking, especially when you consider the ending.
That’s probably the biggest benefit—I know the ending, so now I can see how everything fits together to lead up to the conclusion. Another benefit is, and I hate to say this, but I’m paying better attention. I notice the foreshadowing, I notice nuances like Baz’s insecurities and Agatha’s need to be normal.
Carry On is full of romance and magic—but it’s built on a skeleton of politics, the power of choice, and the meaning of power. And I never truly understood that until I started rereading it. I mean, Agatha’s attitude in Book 1 means so much more this time around. And I wouldn’t have recognized it without reading it again.
But it makes me wonder—would my reading experience be better if I took the Charlie approach and read all my books twice? One for pleasure, once for detail? There are so many books that I read way too fast because I needed to know what happened next. But what nuances did I miss?
Let me know your thoughts in comments!