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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

question of the weekend: What books do you read over and over again (or wish you had the time to reread)?

This weekend’s question was prompted by a conversation with my pal bronxbee, in which we lamented the fact that it’s almost impossible to keep up with all the new books being published that we’d like to read, never mind rereading all the books we love. (This is a not infrequent converation of ours.) So:

What books do you read over and over again (or wish you had the time to reread)?

I don’t even have to think about it: The Hobbit [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon Canada] [Amazon U.K.] and The Lord of the Rings [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon Canada] [Amazon U.K.] — which I consider one work — and Stephen King’s The Stand [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon Canada] [Amazon U.K.]. (They’re pretty much the same story, in fact: Stu Redman is Frodo Baggins!) I’ve read Tolkien at least four or five times since I was a teenager, and King probably three times. And thinking about them again like this only makes me want to read them again… and I probably will make time to read The Stand again after I finish what I’m reading now.

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD/QOTW, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTW sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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  • amanohyo

    My paperback copy of Return of the Native has almost disintegrated (Diggory Venn is a badass). I’ve probably read the first two Earthsea books five or six times too. The only other books I’ve reread are Ten Questions: A Sociological Perspective, which is sitting in my bathroom, and The Fifth Head of Cerberus, which somehow reminds me of my childhood.

    There are too many books I haven’t read to spend time rereading ones I have. That goes for movies, games, plays, musicals, and television too…but not music… hmmm…

  • misterb

    The canon of Sherlock Holmes – the stories are short, without a wasted word, and they still have the thrill of the mysterious even when you know who done it.

  • Gina

    Easy: Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett. Whenever I am between books, that’s where I go. Also Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana & Fionivar Tapestry series.
    Or Phillup Pullman’s Dark Materials.
    I think that covers it.

  • isobel

    Gina and I share a couple (Good Omens and the His Dark Materials books). Also the Time Traveller’s Wife, Jane Austen (all of them) and Prodigal Summer (Barbara Kingsolver).

  • Cori Ann

    When I was in college I read Stephen King’s It at least once a summer, and I’ve been itching to read it again lately. Also for about the last six years or so I’ve read through the Harry Potter series every summer, as well as any time a new book/movie got/gets released (so I have only read the last one two or three times, but all the rest I’ve lost count on). Other than that I think that Good Omens (Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett), Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams), The Eyes of The Dragon (Stephen King), and Big Trouble (Dave Barry) are the books I’ve read so many times that reading them again is like meeting up with an old friend again. :o)

  • Rob

    A lot of childhood favorites: Charlotte’s Web, The Hobbit, Alice in Wonderland, The Once and Future King, David Eddings’ The Belgariad. In later years, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, Mark Chadbourn’s Age of Misrule trilogy, and Gail Carriger’s Soulless.

  • Anne-Kari

    The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies
    The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
    Terry Pratchett in general
    Stephen King in general
    Jane Eyre
    Short stories of Richard Matheson
    Dick Francis in general

  • Kimberly

    Robertson Davies, Anthony Trollope, A.S. Byatt, Jane Austen, Barbara Kingsolver.

    Fantasy re-reads especially well, in my opinion. Harry Potter, the Narnia books, Naomi Novik, Terry Pratchett–all good to read again, especially if I’m home sick with tea, fuzzy blanket, and cat.

    Also, Walden.

  • Will

    Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe books – short enough to plow through in a day or three, and thoroughly brilliant.

    To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis – such amazing characters and wonderful story. love it.

  • Kathy A

    Lord of the Rings
    Harry Potter
    lots of others, including various Stephen King

    Speaking of which, have you seen the graphic novel adaptation of The Stand? Parts 1 and 2 are out now, and they look pretty cool.

  • Bill

    ‘The Stranger’ by Camus and ‘The Wall’ by Sartre. And I used to wear out Carl Sagan’s ‘The Demon- Haunted World’. I’d probably give ‘The Fountainhead’ another read if I had gobs of free time.

  • LaSargenta

    I dip into all my Ursula Le Guin over and over again. Then, I reread William Gibson.

    And, the Diary of Samuel Pepys is near my bed. I’m a sucker for any gossip about My Lady Castlemaine.

    I reread Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance about once every three years. I found a hardbound copy in a used bookstore a few years ago and was very pleased.

  • MaSch

    Gustav Meyrink – Der Golem (I figured it was quite some time since I last read it before Christmas holidays, so I this is the most recent re-read).

    Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray.

    Saint Henrik Ibsen – Peer Gynt (if plays do count)

    Many of Shakespeare’s plays, exceptions include Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Pericles.

    Works by Jorge Luis Borges also are always good to reread.

  • Bluejay

    Have reread several times: Tolkien, Le Guin, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

    Old favorites we reread aloud for daughter’s storytime: Winnie the Pooh, Harry Potter. (And if storytime needs to be shorter: Owl Babies, Guess How Much I Love You, Mo Willems.) Looking forward to doing the same with The Hobbit, Watership Down, Lois Lowry’s The Giver and its sequels, and Le Guin’s Earthsea books, among others.

    Rereading daughter’s old favorites which are kind of cool: Jeff Smith’s Bone graphic novels, and the Mysterious Benedict Society books by Trenton Lee Stewart.

    Wish I could reread but haven’t had time lately: Time Traveler’s Wife, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Gaiman’s Sandman, Kage Baker’s “Company” novels, Temeraire, Carl Sagan, Steinbeck.

    It’s frustrating to want to read so many new books and not have enough time to revisit all my old faves as well. I usually check out library books, and if I fall in love with them I buy copies to reread later on, but then new library books keep beckoning–so our bookshelves are filling up with fresh, unopened copies of unREread books. :-(

  • The Stand for me too, as well as “Time and Again” by Jack Finney, “Don’t Bite the Sun”, “Drinking Sapphire Wine” and “The Silver Metal Lover” by Tanith Lee, Peter Hoeg’s “Smilla’s Sense of Snow”, Willa Cather’s “The Song of the Lark”, “Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman, and “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott.

  • Usually this mix of Gaiman’s American Gods, and his Sandman graphic novels, Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Moore/Gibbons Watchmen, Tim Dorsey’s Orange Crush (I’m Floridian). If I feel the need for the classics I look for Catch 22, Dune or Stranger in a Strange Land.

  • Tonia

    The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell!
    The Stand and Tolkien for me, too.

  • Neil

    Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels

    Pretty much anything by Stephen King prior to 1987 (started going downhill with The Tommyknockers)

    Cormac McCarthy’s The Road

    Max Brooks’ World War Z

    There’s more, just can’t think of any right now…

  • Paul

    Books I have reread: Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility, Don Quixote, the “Thomas Covenant” and “Gap” series by Donaldson, Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, Atlas Shrugged, Starship Troopers, Star Guard (Andre Norton), The Man Who Used the Universe (Alan Dean Foster), The Godfather, Gone with the Wind, Maledicte (Lane Robins), Jaws, The Importance of Being Ernest, For Whom the Bell Tolls … Well, I guess that’s a good sample of my reading habits – the good stuff. When I was a kid I devoured Star Trek novels, too, and reread a few of them.

    Books I’d like to reread in the future: some of Shakespeare’s plays, Milton’s Paradise Lost, The Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz (a Polish writer who survived both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia), The Romance of the Three Kingdoms (a Ming Dynasy novel about a Han Dynasty civil war), and Nietzsche’s Will to Power.

  • stingraylady

    I love harry potter in the summer and Jane Austen in the winter. Tolkein and Pratchett are good any time of year. Glad to discover I’m not the only one who still reads Nero Wolfe. I’m suprised no one mentioned Lonesome Dove, which holds up well to multiple reads. Also, Stephen King’s Dark Tower, especially the first four.

  • Kimberly

    I love harry potter in the summer and Jane Austen in the winter.

    I love the idea of classifying books by season!

  • jakob1978

    I’ve read A Christmas Carol dozens of times, just a perfect piece of work, which i love whatever the time of year

    Terry Pratchett’s books, especially Night Watch and Maskerade.

    And any of Agatha Christie books.

  • Kenny

    The Riddle Master’s Game (Or Riddle of Stars) By Patricia McKillip and Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway.

  • Tobin

    Carrie, Salem’s Lot, The Stand by Stephen King
    Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
    The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
    Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
    The Thomas Covenant series by Stephen R. Donaldson

  • Bluejay

    It’s interesting to see that people generally haven’t listed poems or poetry collections among their favorites (Shakespeare and Milton excepted). You’d think that short poems would lend themselves best to rereading, but maybe we don’t turn to poetry as much as we used to.

    My wife and I love rereading Billy Collins–“The Lanyard,” for example–and we sometimes dip into her grandfather’s tattered old copy of The Best-Loved Poems of the American People, for such hoary classics as “Invictus,” “Casey at the Bat,” and “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” Cheesy, sometimes, but still great fun to read aloud.

  • LaSargenta

    @ Bluejay I think poetry and song are different. In my case, when I read a poem I really like, I memorize it. So, although I frequently might recite it to myself, I don’t actually reread it. (And, yes, I’ve got several hundred lines of Paradise Lost stored away somehow. I had a teacher in high school who said I wouldn’t understand it until I had memorized it. I’m not blind Homer — or blind Milton– so I’ve only got a chunk of Book 1.)

  • Christina

    The Stand, yes – so many times I can’t remember, plus I bought the re-issue with the thousands of pages his editors (foolishly) required him to delete from the original version and have read that lots of times, too.

    The Swiss Family Robinson; I used to read this cover to cover every time I was home sick when I was young… and I was sick a LOT. Probably more than 300 times.

    The Harper Hall of Pern, from the Dragonriders of Pern series – my favorite.

    I think of these as comfort books – I can let them fall open by themselves and start reading where they open without missing a beat. Love ’em.

  • judy

    Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance like a few of the readers above. Also, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard and parts of Dorothy Wordsworths Journals.

  • Hank Graham

    Kenneth Morris’s “The Book of Three Dragons.” Epic fantasy a la Tolkien, but with a sense of humor and _much_ better written.

    Terry Pratchett’s “Hogfather” or “Soul Music.”

    Prachett & Gaiman’s “Good Omens.”

    Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan stories.

  • Jay

    Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell

    It’s the only one I consistently reread. Others I’ve reread because something eluded me and when I found what I wanted didn’t bother to pick them up again.

    The Orwell “diary”, though, I can pick up anytime.

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