I was reading this article from the Atlantic Wire the other day and was inspired to put together a list of books that I can read over and over and it would never get old in my eyes =)
I should note that growing up I used to re-read a lot; as I got older and could go to the bookstore on my own at any time, I’ve re-read less frequently (though I’m trying to get back to that now). So yes, which books made it on my list?
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien — I used to read this book every year since the age of 15 (right before I went out to watch the first movie) though I haven’t done so in a while now. What’s absolutely amazing about The Lord of the Rings is that it’s rich in history and lore, the scope of the story and the number of characters who play a role in it. As a result, reading this book can be a different experience every time: though you may know the story inside out, there’s always something new that you might pick up on, whether it be a poem that one of the characters recites or the way that a particular friendship runs it course or a character action/behaviour/motive that you did not pick up the first time around. Added to the timelessness of the story itself just overall makes the overall reading experience a unique one every single time =)
Persuasion by Jane Austen — Of course, nothing will ever beat the first time I read this book back in first year undergrad (right before the ITV adaptations came out); I just could not put the book down until I found out whether Anne and Wentworth would reconcile or not. It was absolutely gripping and I was 110% invested into the characters–primarily Anne–and whether everything would work out in the end. Certain feelings have remained every other time that I’ve read it since (i.e. my indignation over the way in which Anne’s family treats her) but re-reading it (every year since!) has enabled me to pick up on subtleties that I otherwise would not have noticed the first time around (mainly behavioural; some of my observations actually made it to the article that I wrote for the September/October 2011 issue of Femnista). Plus, you know, when you get around to the letter, it’s just <3 😉
Atonement by Ian McEwan (review) — This is a hefty novel in many ways ranging from the themes explored to the character development to the outcome of the overall plot. Heck, it’s downright devastating, a word that I continually use to associate with this novel because of the way that everything works out. The first time I read the novel (perhaps during a bad time–why do I always read the interesting books right before a major exam?), it just left me wondering for days. It left quite an impression on me. Personally this is my favourite work by McEwan in terms of narration (his use of words is just perfect) and story, there’s just something about it that never gets boring no matter how many times I’ve read it. Not to mention I also pick up on things that I didn’t the first time around (seems to be a running theme here, hehe); I mentioned in my review that I never realised just how close Cecilia and Leon were until a second read. Even though I know what happens at the end the ending still gets me. Every single time.
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (review) — I must’ve mentioned this story a bajillion times on the internet already but for those who don’t know: I’ve known about Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire a good long time before HBO considered adapting it to a television series. I had just started my foray well into the fantasy genre and a lot of people were recommending this series. So I picked up the first novel and read it. It was fast-paced, the characters were interesting. Okay, so it was a lot darker and a lot more violent than previous fantasy novels that I’d read up to that point but okay, I can deal with it. Then bam! Main character dies. I was scarred enough to not pick up the rest of the series until a good five years later when I caught wind that HBO was adapting it and decided to get around to re-reading the book again and reading the rest of the series. Like Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, A Game of Thrones is a rich start to a very complex and detailed series; re-reading it can be a lot of fun especially when you’re theorising about how everything will work out or trying to pick up the little pieces that foreshadow events. Of course, no matter how many times I read it or how I see it on-screen, said main character’s end always shocks me. Maybe I’m still scarred =P
Sabriel by Garth Nix (review) — Ever read a book where you find yourself thinking “Oh wow, I wish I had thought this up!” Well, one of these moments came when I read this book, the first in the Abhorsen trilogy (if you haven’t read it I strongly recommend that you do, it’s utterly fantastic). Nix does such a wonderful job of blending magic and old lore with technology and other modern concepts like a standing army and a boarding school for young women. Come to think of it, with the mesh of familiar technological contraptions it seems as though Nix was already working with elements of steampunk before the sub-genre because quite popular! But I digress…the concept of an Abhorsen putting the dead down rather than raising them up was pretty interesting and the tools she uses, the bells, was also pretty unique. I haven’t re-read the series in a while but I guess I find myself awe-struck every single time I read it because I enjoy the story so much. Oh, and Sabriel is such a kick-butt heroine, she’s pretty cool-headed and collected even when dead things are about to overrun her.
A Room With a View by E.M. Forster (review) — This is another classic that I’ve read a number of times and I always find myself picking up something new or re-considering an event or decision made by one of the characters; this was definitely the case when I re-read the book earlier this year for an article I wrote for the March/April 2012 issue of Femnista. It’s pretty amusing in this case because the novel is very slim but Forster manages to jam so many ideas and themes into the story that until now I don’t think I’ve fully grasped all of the themes that he expressed (I make a note of it in the review). Nonetheless it’s a delightful read, following Lucy as she travels around Italy restless and in search for something bigger than herself and contrasting it with her life back in England and never really gets old in my eyes.
And that’s pretty much all the books that came to my mind when thinking of books that I’d never get sick of re-reading. There are plenty of other books that came to mind as well–Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind for example–but I either had not re-read them yet or have not re-read them enough times to warrant adding them to the list for now (Gaskell’s North and South fell under the latter list). What do you guys think of the list, have you read any of them? Which books would’ve made your list?
On a semi-related note, what do you guys think of me posting up lists every now and then? Of course I’m still participating in Top Ten Tuesdays every so often but I’m actually enjoying putting together my own lists where I’m a bit more flexible on topic and number of books featured (and when to post them lol). Plus, I guess it’s also a fun way of recommending books without going into too much on the review/analysis side of things ^_~ Anyways, let me know what you think! =)