I reached this conclusion while I was re-reading a graphic novel. It was the same story as before. It had the same appearance as before (other than being collected in one handy volume). As soon as I began reading it I remembered most of the story. Yet the story was new in a way past remembering. It was new because nothing had changed.
One of the lead characters in the story struck me with a thought, “The writer must have kids”. Not seen kids or written about kids or even been around kids. The traits in this character could only have come from someone who has raised kids.
It was a thought and a perspective that had never occurred to me on my original reading of the tale. That perspective, and others that came upon me as I continued through the story, resulted directly from the different place I was in as a person. It allowed me to read a story I completely remembered and experience something new.
Recently, I have been re-reading past novels I enjoyed to offer my thoughts on the review site Goodreads. The experience has been likewise rewarding as I read books through a different worldview than before.
Whenever we read a book, no matter how carefully we try to trust the author, we read the story through the lens of our life. That so many authors entertain us is a testament to the power of their writing. Picking up that same book years (in this case, decades) later can offer a fresh new view, as we already “know” the tale and so can allow the book to “speak” for itself. Along the way, your life experiences change the way you read the book so that it entertains you in a totally new way. Even though nothing has changed.