“Please, sir, I want some more.”
When it comes to a good creative work, sometimes enjoying it once just isn’t enough. Are you someone who can recite your favorite movie scenes by heart? Do you listen to catchy songs on repeat? What about books – how likely are you to pick up a good book a second or third time?
Full disclosure: the author of this article, a Mediator, is an avid reader and rereader of all sorts of books with a habit of rereading a different Charles Dickens novel every winter. Why? Because, even with subzero temperatures and several inches of snow, it just doesn’t feel like winter until I’ve cozied up with the quirky characters, wry social commentary, over-the-top sentimentality, and oh-so-convenient coincidences that we know so well from Dickens. Although I wouldn’t call him one of my favorite authors, his novels call up memories of snowy school days and offer endless avenues for analysis and critique. It’s impossible to read a Dickens novel and not come away with something new.
The idea of rereading a book to re-create an experience or to discover something new might appeal to a Mediator, but to other personality types? Not so much. What is it about our personality traits that makes some people so enthusiastic – and others so reluctant – about reading books more than once?
When we asked our readers to agree or disagree with the statement, “You have read quite a few books more than once,” an average of 50% agreed. While we didn’t see any extreme levels of agreement or disagreement, the data did reveal some noticeable differences between certain personality traits.
Which personality types find themselves, like a hungry Oliver Twist, coming back for second helpings of books? Read on to learn more.
Analysts and Diplomats (56% each agreeing)
As Intuitive personality types, Analysts and Diplomats share an interest in ideas, exploration, imagination, and novelty that made them the most likely to say they’ve reread many books. While the Nature and Tactics personality aspects had little influence on this study, the Energy aspect was key: Intuitive types were 13% more likely than Observant types to agree with our statement (56% vs. 43%, respectively).
The words of a book stay the same, but we do not: with each reading, we bring different perspectives than we did before, based on new knowledge, personal experiences, current events, or shifting cultural attitudes. What new connections might we make? What new meaning might we find? Will our old favorites stand the test of time? These questions alone are enough to drive an Intuitive personality type to reread books fairly often. Analysts and Diplomats are just as interested in understanding the themes, characters, or arguments of a book as they are in understanding their own varying responses to it.
Architects (64%) were the most likely of all personality types to agree that they’ve read quite a few books more than once, followed closely by Advocates (63%). As Analysts, Architects may find it worthwhile to read a book again in order to deepen their expertise on a given subject, to discover a more effective strategy, or simply to return to an original source of inspiration for another shot of creative energy.
Empathetic and idealistic Advocates probably approach additional readings from a more emotional point of view. These Diplomats might reread a book to revisit a powerful emotional experience, to reaffirm their values, or to remind themselves of a cause worth fighting for.
Sentinels and Explorers (44% and 41%)
Sentinels and Explorers were less likely to say they’ve reread many books – in fact, no Observant personality type agreed with our statement in a majority. Individuals with the Observant personality trait are generally more interested in the facts, people, and events happening in the world around them than in the ideas, characters, or theories in the worlds of books.
That doesn’t mean that Sentinels and Explorers can’t be avid readers, just that, for these practical personalities, once is usually enough. Taking care of real-world responsibilities often takes priority for Sentinels, while Explorers tend to prefer experiencing things firsthand to reading about them (again). Observant personality types may choose to reread a book if it was exceptionally compelling, exciting, or inspirational the first time around, or if there’s a practical reason for doing so – like reminding themselves where things left off in a favorite series before the next installment comes out.
Consuls and Entertainers tied as the personality types least likely to agree with our statement (39% each). These social beings love getting people together, supporting their friends and loved ones, and serving as the life of the party. They may be happy to reread a book if it involves a social setting, like a book club or author reading, or if doing so will help strengthen their relationships with others. But in general, most Consuls and Entertainers care more about connecting with people than with books.
Constant Improvement and Confident Individualism (57% and 51% agreeing)
It might not be surprising that Introverted personality types were 9% more likely than Extraverts to agree that they’ve read quite a few books more than once (55% vs. 46%). After all, reading is usually a solitary activity, and solitude is simply more appealing to Introverts. Reading or rereading a good book may be part of an important ritual of seeking quiet, unwinding, and recharging.
As Turbulent personality types, Constant Improvers agreed at a higher rate than Confident Individualists. Constant Improvers tend to be perfectionists, and they believe in personal growth. Rereading a book may simultaneously offer a chance to enrich or “perfect” their understanding of it (as much as that is possible) and to learn something new about themselves in the process.
Assertive Confident Individualists, on the other hand, know what they like and know what they’re good at. They may not have a nagging feeling, like Constant Improvers, that they missed something on their first pass through a book. These personalities are not too concerned about trying to please other people, either, so if rereading books makes them happy, they’re comfortable spending time doing just that.
Social Engagement and People Mastery (47% and 45%)
Just under half of Social Engagers and People Masters agreed with our statement. For these Extraverted personality types, reading a book once may be quite worthwhile and satisfying, but the idea of spending time reading it two or more times is less appealing, especially when the buzz and excitement of the outside world are calling. Social Engagers and People Masters are most comfortable in social settings, and Turbulent perfectionism and Assertive confidence were less of a factor in the responses of these Strategies.
For many of us, especially those with Intuitive Energy or Introverted Minds, a good book can be like an old friend that we can’t wait to see again. For those of us with the Observant or Extraverted personality traits, the last page of a book is more likely to be our final experience with it.
The fairly neutral responses in this study suggest that how much we enjoy rereading books also has a lot to do with our personal preferences. An Intuitive personality type, for instance, might pursue their quest for meaning and personal growth by watching movies multiple times or writing pieces of their own instead of rereading books. An Observant personality type might wish to reread more books but, finding it too much of a time commitment, choose to prioritize more practical activities instead.
Whatever our personality type, we tend to have the best experiences with books when we find them at just the right time in our lives. That right time might not come again, but if it does, reading a book a second or third or fourteenth time can be an even more magical or rewarding experience.
Have you read many books more than once? Is there a certain book that has been especially meaningful to you? Share your experiences in the comments below!