Blogger Template by Blogcrowds.

Generally I'm not a re-reader. I know some people have favorite books they read again and again and there are even some (somewhat obsessed) people like Christopher Lee who religiously re-read the same book every year (Lord of the Rings, for the record). It's not that I don't read some awesome books that are well worth re-reading, it's just that if I find myself with time to read, I'd rather embark on a new adventure than one I've already been on.
That said, I do have a few long-time favorites that I have read multiple times and enjoyed just as much each time. I think for someone who is generally not a re-reader, that says something about these books.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
I first read this book as part of a Robert Louis Stevenson collection (which included his less-famous but still good Black Arrow) and though I liked it, I think my image of the book was heavily shaped by the various movie adaptations I'd seen (the best of which remains Muppet Treasure Island) and I didn't digest it as well as I could have. However, several years ago I re-read it in preparation to teach it to my high school class. I am convinced there is nothing so good as studying a book to help one to appreciate it like-new. Sitting down and examining to characters, their development, the plot flow, etc. all gave me a completely new view. I've since read it again, and likely will in the future. It is the quintessential pirate book (treasure, adventure on the high seas, mutiny, hostages, ghosts, gun fights, murder, maroonees!) and even more than 120 years later I think the story appeals to adventurous people of all ages.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
When I was a very young child my dad read these books to me and my older brother. We got them from our church library one at a time, and he would read a couple chapters to us each night. Let me tell you, having to wait until the next day to find out what happens in the next chapter was both agonizing and fun. But I was too young to read them myself and imagining what might happen next was part of the fun. I don't think much of the stories themselves sunk in for long. They took on a specialness due to my dad's excitement as he read them, but I was left with good if fuzzy memories of the books.
It was many years later (I was probably 12 or 13) that I re-discovered the books. A friend gifted me with the whole set and I read through them in record time. They remain some of my favorite books and some of the easiest to re-read when I need something magical in my life.

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Firstly, let's get the travesty that is Miyazaki's interpretation of this book out of the way. The movie took characters and elements from Jones' wonderful book, and, as much as I generally like Miyazaki I have to say, he completely ruined them.
Now the book on the other hand is one of my all-time favorites. I've both read it multiple times as well as listened to it brilliantly read by Jenny Sterlin (great Welsh accent) and enjoyed it just as much each time. Something about Diana Wynne Jones' writing makes me happy. Her stories always have a fun magical atmosphere and keep you reading--I usually finish her books quite quickly because I enjoy the worlds she creates so much that each time I pause my reading (for something mundane like going to bed, or going to work) I want to get back to them as soon as I can.

Dracula by Bram Stoker
I've read other writing by Bram Stoker and have to say that based on his other writing it almost seems that Dracula must have been written by someone else. The other books and stories are rather a mess. The biggest puzzle to me was The Lair of the White Worm which not only appears to have been written by someone with multiple personalities, but also while they were on drugs.
However he did it though, Stoker really struck gold with Dracula. One of the older vampire books (though not the first) Dracula is wonderful at making vampires not only scary but truly evil. Stoker's brilliant use of religious imagery corrupted and distorted into something evil makes for the creepiest and best vampire book I've ever read.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

I think part of what makes Alice such a re-readable and beloved book is that you can get as much out of it as you like. If you read through quickly and focus on it as a story you get to adventure through some very strange places and meet some truly ridiculous characters. If you read through with a bit more concentration you get to appreciate Carroll's wordplay, puns, and wit. He was rather brilliant and liked to try out words in many different ways as he could. I definitely missed a lot the first time I read through it (I was rather young as well) and the second time I read it I realized how much he was playing with words and phrases linguistically.
The book is great for quotations as well...
"'Take some more tea,' the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
'I've had nothing yet,' Alice replied in an offended tone, 'so I can't take more.'
'You mean you can't take less,' said the Hatter: 'It's very easy to take more than nothing.'"
I won a free copy of the audio book at the Brooklyn Book Fair this past September and am in the middle of listening to it. Jim Dale is very good as the narrator, but I do find his Cheshire Cat voice quite creepy.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

This book is SO good. Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman are two of my favorite authors and are my hands-down favorite living authors. Each time I read this book it's just as funny as the first time. As with many books in which Pratchett has had a hand, there are so many cultural references and in-jokes you're sure to find new ones each time you read; I've had many "oh, that's what that's from!" moments.
It's currently being made into a radio play (due out this Christmas) and I couldn't be more pleased.


Newer Post Older Post Home