Why we should embrace re-reading

By Hannah Cole, Literature Columnist

Last week I wrote about setting a goal this semester of the number of books I want to read, which can benefit us and prompt us to read more; we become better individuals for it. However, the other side of the conversation ' the notion of fully investing in a text ' is of equal importance.

There is a phrase that I have come across recently that has kept me thinking about its implications: Lectio Divina. It's a Latin phrase that holds a piece of church history within it, encouraging a reader to reconsider the way they approach a text.

The idea behind Lectio Divina is rooted in an old monastic tradition where monks would choose a particular book of scripture and steep themselves in it for months on end. They would pour over the text, reading and rereading slowly and deliberately to get the most out of every passage and every word. It is something that at first glance seems strange and foreign ' a practice that should stay inside the bounds of monastic life and come nowhere near our own.

However, I think we need this. There is an ever-present question we face when we approach the vast world of literature and insurmountable accumulation of texts at our fingertips: What is the benefit of rereading a book when there is so much out there that I haven't even encountered yet?

This is where the idea of Lectio Divina comes in.

Choosing to invest time in a particular novel forces us out of the hectic lives we lead, out of the mindset where we read solely to reach the end, to mark off another book on our list. We are conditioned to never stay in one place too long, never linger over something when we can easily be moving on to something else, something new and better.

There is beauty in repetition, and I think we are afraid of it at times because we don't know what to do with it. We feel that reading or encountering the same words over and over will cause them somehow to lose their meaning and fall by the wayside, empty. This just isn't true.

Lectio Divina introduces the idea of letting words surround you, to enter your thoughts as you read and to reside there. We ought to cherish the things we admire in books, holding on to them as we might hold on to the encouraging words of a friend, and seek to invest ourselves more fully in what we read.

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