Friday Fun – Books we love to re-read

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, writing-related question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: There definitely seem to be books out there that people keep and read over and over. Can you name a book or two that you particularly love to read and tell us what you love about it (or them)?

Jamie Wallace: Honestly, I should read each book I love at least twice. I feel like it takes that to really internalize the story. The first read – if I like it a lot – goes by in a bit of a whirlwind. I don’t always savor a book as much as it deserves on the first time around. One book that I have read over and over is Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin. It’s the only book I’ve ever read by this author, and after several readings I find that the characters are not as three-dimensional as I would like, but the language is so gorgeous that I am able to forgive almost any shortcoming. The story falls into the category of magical realism (one of my favorites), and spins a fanciful tale around some very interesting themes, but what always captures my attention are the lush and sparkling images of a deep and magical winter. I only read this book in the winter. It helps me get into the mood for blizzards and ice and cold that freezes your breath the moment it leaves your body. This is a story to make winter wondrous.

Lisa J Jackson writerLisa J. Jackson: I am not really a re-reader of anything other than books that are somehow related to writing, entrepreneurship, or figuring out life. The only book I purposely re-read was instigated by details I read in a profile of a gentleman who commented on one of my posts – The Wind in the Willows. I hadn’t heard that book mentioned in eternity, and something just clicked with me that day. I rented the book from the library that afternoon and re-read the book. I remember reading it as a kid, wish I knew if it was for a class or just for me, but I enjoyed it just as much this time around. I like life being told from the animals’ points of view. Another one in my ToBeRead pile is Watership Down. But, other than those 2 books, I haven’t read, nor do I plan to re-read, any fiction. There are just too many books I haven’t yet read! For instance, Winter’s Tale, that Jamie mentions – I’ve had it in my TBR pile for at least a year. I’ve heard great things about it, but haven’t made my way to it yet!

Julie Hennrikus: There are some books that reveal different layers as you get older. I find Jane Austen wrote those books. I reread them (Persuasion is my favorite) and always find that a character or two tell me a new secret to their personality. There are other books I reread for craft. The first time through is pure enjoyment. The second time through is “how did she do that?” But, like Lisa, I rarely reread. My TBR piles are too high.


Deborah Lee Luskin: Virginia Woolf prescribed reading a book twice: the first time for the pleasure of what happens and the second time for the delight in how. In an ideal world, there would be time to do this. As it is, I’m with the others: so much to read, so little time. But I’m also right there with Julie – and Jane Austen.

20 thoughts on “Friday Fun – Books we love to re-read

  1. Oh, ditto Jane Austen (and Persuasion – at last, someone else who prefers it to Pride & Prejudice or Emma)! I used to re-read Jane Austen once a year when I was in my 20s, but I don’t seem to have the time now, more’s the pity.
    With Wind in the Willows and other childhood classics, I am having a blast reading them out loud to my children now for bedtime stories – it’s a wonderful way to reread things and see them with fresh eyes!

  2. Books I love I reread a lot, over and over: I’ve spent a lot of time with the Harry Potter series because the books are so dense that I’ve missed clues the first time around — I’ll go back and look at the character development of Severus Snape, for instance. One of my favorite books is Natalie Goldberg’s memoir, Long Quiet Highway: different things jump out at me in different readings, but I love how she describes the relationship between her and her teacher. And I love Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle because there is a lot of information packed in there (recipes, facts) as well as stories.

  3. Gosh, I know I’ll sound like a broken record, but because we had “The Longest Trip Home” for a book club selection, I reread it. It definitely covers all the emotions–lots of laugh out louds. I have to say I enjoyed it all over again. John Grogan really pulls you in and makes you feel like you’re right there with him. He draws wonderful word pictures. And best of all, he reminds you of a slower paced time when kids had the outdoors to explore.
    Recently, I shared a “big bubble” idea on facebook. When the grandchildren were younger, I would put their small bubble wands over the air conditioner and we would have huge bubbles. We would run giggling all the way to the front of the house to see them come over the roof. A cousin wrote, “A simpler time.” I replied, “It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago. I sure had fun doing it.” I just checked with my granddaughter to see if she remembered and she did. We laughed about it again.

  4. There are so many books waiting to be discovered and read and yet I enjoy dusting off old favourites. As Julie pointed out, a great book has layers that reveal themselves with age and experience.

  5. I am a fan of Arthur. C.Clarke and my favourite books are ‘The Fountains of Paradise’ and ‘The Sands of Mars’.Both books are highly thrilling and especially ‘The Fountains of Paradise’ is based on my tiny Island and it has a special appeal to me. I like to read Daphne Du Maurier’s novels too.I have read ‘The Frenchman’s Creek’ and King’s General’ several times and still they have the ability to thrill me to the core. I am highly fascinated by the heroines of Du Maurier.They are adventurous, brave, radical and beautiful. They defy the society they live in.I am an incurable romantic at heart and I think that is why I am highly drawn Maurier’s novels. Anyhow I usually read my favourite books more than once.

  6. Great question for a Friday. My first choice is East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I have re-read it about four times now. It is such a rich story and I am always anxious to get back to the well developed characters. There’s a little bit of everything in this novel…..just love it.

    My second fav is The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Piltcher. I read it and listened to it on audio and fall in love all over again with each reading. The coastal English setting and the family saga draws me in each and every time. Makes me want to curl up with a beautiful cup and saucer filled to the brim with steaming hot tea and escape into another time.

  7. I’ve read Salinger’s Nine Stories and Moby Dick about six times each; Wind, Sand, and Stars, The Red and the Black, Madame Bovary, Everything That Rises Must Converge several times each; and a host of others twice. Some books are just too good to get your fill!

  8. Great topic! First, for those of you who like magical realism and lyrical, enchanting writing, let me re-iterate the recommendation for “Winter’s Tale” by Mark Halpern. To be perfectly honest, I’ve picked it up and read about half of it a few times—but have never finished it. That said, it’s just one of those books to get lost in.

    As for books I’ve re-read twice—I’ve actually been going back to some books I read as a teenager to re-read them this year. I started with “The Stand” by Stephen KIng, but did the unabridged, audio version (I love audiobooks!). I then did Dean Koontz’s “Strangers.” And just recently, I re-read “Of Mice and Men”—so short you can finish in a day!

    I like doing this because if you read something when you are a teenager you are going to have a lot different experience reading it as an adult.

    Last—the book I’ve re-read the most is “To Kill a Mockingbird.” To me, that is almost the perfect book, and I notice different aspects of it every time I read it.

  9. The non fiction book I have read and reread, highlighted and studied is called Change for the Better by Elizabeth Wilde McCormack. It is a self help book through practical psychology based on Cognitive Analytic Therapy. If you are interested in untangling emotional baggage or just want to understand yourself better this is the book for you.
    The fiction book I have read and reread is Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It is set in 1960’s Nigeria when the country was in civil war. It follows on from Purple Hibiscus but you could read it alone. It is simply magnificent at bringing great characters to life and making us feel desperate for them and their welfare.
    The children’s book I have read over many years to countless children is I Am David. It is a war time story of survival but through the eyes and experiences of a child.
    The memoir I love is Coin Street Chronicles by Gwen Southgate. It shows the world through a child’s eyes too but all the way up to adulthood.

  10. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
    The Elegance of the Hedgehog
    Bird by Bird
    On Writing
    Edgar Sawtelle
    The Once and Future King
    The Old Man and the Sea

    I don’t like this Friday Fun…too hard to choose! I feel tension rising…

  11. I have a rule: If my husband wouldn’t read it twice, I won’t read it at all. See, he’s a speedy reader and I’m not. There are so many good books and so little time to spend.

    That said, poetry is always rereadable for me. Julie has it on the mark.I’ve just discovered the Odd Thomas series via my husband’s recommendation. I will be rereading for sure. It must be freeing to get to ‘write out of genre’ once in a while.

  12. Pingback: Listen to the Falling Rain – On Libraries, Reading, and the Magic of Books | joanneeddy's blog

    • Hi Angela –
      No need to paste this link on every single post on LTWWTL – we get it the first time around! I just got a bunch of emails with this link. It’s overkill and it loads up subscriber’s boxes.

  13. Pingback: Great books, great authors « Run4joy59's Blog

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