Is there a book you reread regularly? What makes it re-readable? Is it because it always stays the same -- or because it doesn't? (Stephen Marche's article "Centireading Force: Why Reading a Book 100 Times Is a Good Idea" may shed some light.)
- The Magewars books by MacDonald and Lee. Kickass female starpilot and spooky foe. They're not that well-conceived but my "need" to reread them convinced me at the time that I was looking for my "people" and the interactions of the people in the story with the epic background was a "fix." (I feel like I just filled out an application for nerd classification)
- Franny & Zooey. The first re-read was dramatic! I had forgotten she was an actress! Also, I got all the love and humor inside the family. Now it is like a reminder to BE ALIVE and loving, as all is fleeting. Read without ceasing.
- I reread Wuthering Heights every few years. I fell for this book at exactly the right time. I was twelve and full of intense "feelings" and had the fortune to visit Haworth, the Brontes' home, that same summer. No one loved that book more than I did. I remember asking my 7th grade English teacher if we could study it and she said it was s girl book. Deep sadness and incipient Feminism grew from that! I told her Huck Finn seemed like a boy book and refused to like it till reading it again in my twenties> It has now become another book I reread nearly yearly, partially because I teach it and partly because it is the greatest American novel.
- Huck Finn and Moby Dick. Usually not cover-to-cover. I just open them up anywhere and read whatever I land on. I used to do that with Tropic of Cancer too. What those three books have in common is probably having no plot, or anyway not being plot driven.
- Please don't laugh. I read The Bridges of Madison County every year or so. It's a quick read and I love the message that love never dies...
- Sometimes a Great Notion. Read it first almost 35 years ago and I reread it every few years. Some fascinating imagery. I usually learn a bit about myself.
- Mists of Avalon - I was just coming into feminism when I read the book for the first time. And it was like a revelation to me - what a story could be - how it could be profoundly different when told from a woman's perspective. Before, I would've told you my favorite author was Shakespeare or John Irving - but Mists changed all of that for me. I go back and read every few years - its not the most literary story, but it takes me back to that time in my life where all of these possibilities just opened up for me. Plus, it was the book I was reading when I first visited England and my longterm love asked me to marry him. So there's that.
- Every summer I reread To Kill A Mockingbird to remember what a summer in the south is and because every time I find something new to love.
- Most of Jane Austen; Trollope's Palliser series; and Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander series. (I skip Emma, which I don't love.) I think I go back to them all for the same reason: they're the books that most closely resemble my socially awkward reality. I love the moments when the characters realize they've been reading a situation all wrong--like when Anne realizes that Captain Wainwright thinks she's in love with Mr. Eliot, or when Mr. Palliser (one of the great heroes of literature, IMO) finally talks to his wife.
- The five Lauren Laurano mysteries by Sandra Scoppetone. Great lesbian detective fiction and a love song to New York City along the way.
- Pride and Prejudice. First read around 1986. Reread every few years or so, maybe because I have an emotionally distant father and have always been attracted to that type. The difference between reading-then and reading-now is that I'm aware of it and Mr. Darcy is maybe a hair less attractive than he was to me at 16. But only a hair.
- True story: I have re-read Pride and Prejudice like five times because I think it is the one I haven't read. Then I realize, no, it is Sense and Sensibility that I haven't read, but by then I am really into Pride and Prejudice and so I just finish it. Or is it Sense and Sensibility that I've read five times? I can never remember...
- Happy All the Time. It's a book from the 70s. My uncle gave it to my mom and my aunt and it eventually came to me. It kind of changes for me as I get older, but I think fundamentally all the people are basically kind and smart and want to live decent lives and do the right thing. Also, there are just some really funny quirky characters, like Misty Berkowitz's cousin Stanley, who types really really fast.
- I periodically re-read Gravity's Rainbow. But just the first page. And then I realize there's no way I'm ever reading Gravity's Rainbow.
Other titles mentioned: Ivanhoe, A Prayer for Owen Meany, The Lord of the Rings, Cryptonomicon, Discworld, Jane Eyre, The Good Earth, Anna Karenina, The Screwtape Letters.
Thanks, Dave Armstrong, Alicia Bailey, Andrew Braun, Heather Powell Browne, Inge-Marie Eigsti, Jonathan Caws-Elwitt, Gina Chen-Arms, Rebecca Hoogs, Kris Kanthak, Kathleen Kirk, Kyle Larsen, Steve Lawson, Andrea Lucard, Heather McHale, Josie Mills, Sarah Milteer, Emma Mitchell, Amanda Newman, Tonja Olive, Andrew Oppenheimer, Giselle Restrepo, Jim Risner, Paul Sampson, Sue Spengler, Sanjaya Thakur, Amanda Udis-Kessler, Joanne Uppendahl, David Weinstock, Sara Winters, Dina Wood, Nethery Wylie.