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Why I read some books a second (or a third) time

While performing standup comedy, understanding who's in the audience is really critical for a successful show. Jokes about European politics won't do well in India. And jokes about Tinder won't do well with an audience where the median age is over forty.

The jokes need to be tailored to who's in the audience and what they can relate to in order to elicit laughs from them.

For a long time, I used to think that re-watching movies or re-reading books are merely nostalgia, and that people did it only to re-live the moments and experiences that they had had while reading or watching it the first time.

While this is true in some cases, I had completely missed out on another case. A more pertinent one at that.

Just like the jokes in a comic act will be perceived differently by different audiences, we perceive the stories we read and watch differently depending on when we read it.

I'm currently reading The 5am Club by Robin Sharma, and I would have perceived it very differently from how I'm perceiving it now, had I read it ten years ago. And it is quite likely that I will perceive it altogether differently if I read it again ten years from now.

This is owing to the fact that I am not the same person that I was ten years ago and I won't be the same person that I am now ten years from now.

We grow, we learn, we change and we evolve over time. And as we do that, we perceive what we consume differently.

Of course, this doesn't mean that we need to consume everything again every few years in order to have new experiences and new learnings. Because, part of our evolution is that we modify our memories and learnings to account for the changes that we go through in our thinking and in our perspectives over time.

While I learnt a good deal and was inspired a lot after reading Peter Thiel's Zero to One a few years ago, those learnings and inspiration are modified today to account for how I've evolved over the past few years since I first read that book.

But a re-reading is merited when we have acquired new skills, new perspectives and new ideas that would allow us to have new learnings and new moments of inspiration when we read something that we have read before.

I keep a history of my ratings and reviews of the books I read (as rated and reviewed right after I've read them), so that I can look back and see if any rating or review makes me think, "Really? Is this what I felt after reading this book? Perhaps I should read it again."

When I feel that way about a book, that's when I choose to read it again.

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