On Re-Reading

Great Post on Re-reading from Alexa at Not Enough Bookshelves.

For years, I re-read The Anne of Green Gables series (up thru Anne’s House of Dreams), A Girl of the Limberlost, and the Chronicles of Narnia (except for the Last Battle) every year. Every. Year. I have also read A Little Princess multiple times, as well too many books about Greek myths, romance novels, horror novels and other children’s books too many times to count.

Recently, I haven’t been much for rereading, because I’ve become aware of how many books there are out there to read (Out there? No, try my bookshelf!) But I have read Laini Taylor’s Lips Touch 3 Times multiple times, just to savor the beautiful language. Also, Karen Katz’s Where’s Baby’s Belly Button? Over and over and over. Q starts laughing the second I pick it up. It’s definitely her favorite book (though I keep trying to get her into Sandra Boynton, like any good Yalie).

So, this Friday: what do you re-read and why?

Posted in bookaholic, other writers, Queenie

28 Responses to On Re-Reading

  1. Celine says:

    Wow, you reread a lot. I’m trying to read all of my unread books on my shelves first. I make some exceptions for my favourites though, like The Hollows series by Kim Harrison. And I’ll reread Rampant before starting Ascendant, to refresh my memory :D.

  2. Lenore says:

    I reread DOOMSDAY BOOK by Connie Willis every couple of years. And I’m with you on LIPS TOUCH. I reread Goblin Fruit every couple of months! Love it!

  3. Jen says:

    I tend to reach for my childhood/teen favorites (I’m nearly 30, lol) when I’m in a bad mood – because starting a new book and finding it unappealing when I’m already in a crappy mindset is that much more depressing. I can’t speak for a specific book, but certain authors make a pretty steady reappearance:

    Tamora Pierce (anything and everything she’s written)
    Madeleine L’engle (The Time Quintet)
    Anne Bishop (The Black Jewels series)
    Mercedes Lackey (Arrows of the Queen, Last Herald-Mage, The Ship Who Searched)
    C.S. Lewis (Narnia)

  4. Sandy Coburn says:

    Books are a living conversation between the reader and the writer. The same words can take on a different meaning on a different day, at a different point in life. Some books I re-read for the same reason I wear soft, worn jeans — they are comfortable and comforting. Sometimes, I re-read simply for love. There are a few books that are in that list — The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Jane Eyre, and Julie Garwood’s Honor’s Splendour. If a book isn’t speaking to me, old or new, I put it down. Life’s too short.

  5. Rhiannon says:

    I find myself re-reading large novels that create new worlds and pull me inside, like The Stand.
    I re-read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, at first because Iw as so drawn into the world that she created, but later because her books are so complicated, with so much time between publications that I haev to re-read to keep myself in the worlds and remember what is going on.

    I’ve always been a reader, but I’ve always had a hard time finding books that I LOVE – so when I finish one that I LOVE, rather than just enjoy, I’m sort of hesitant to move on. I don’t know what that next “World” will be like, or I’m attached to an author’s style, or tone. Sometimes I just sit these books somewhere, and enjoy opening to a random chapter where I can revisit old friends.

  6. Rae says:

    Like you the Anne books were an annual re-read for a decade or so because I found them beautiful. But I learned a long time ago that it easier for my brain to relax at night if I read for a bit. If I read new books I can get caught in them for hours, so I have learned to pick up one of the books that have been on my shelves for years. Christine Feehan is a favorite because I know her books so well or there are quite a few young adult authors (like L.M. Montgomery) who can be enjoyed at a slower pace multiple times.

  7. Julie says:

    There are times I have a hunger to relive a book experience, and I reread it — I love Bujold’s Vorkosigan books, also L’Engle’s time quartet, Joan D. Vinge’s Snow Queen/Summer Queen, Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy (4th book not so much), and another trilogy by M.K.Wren – the Phoenix Legacy – which is (gasp) 30 years old, and I still go back to reread it.
    Great question, and it making me think about that experience, and what elements are there for my own writing!

  8. AmyW says:

    Donna Tartt’s The Secret History came to me at the right point in my life, and I’ve tried to re-read it every year since as a touchstone to my own moral growth. (From bitter college student on…)

    Good Omens by Pratchett/Gaiman is one I can (and do) re-read endlessly because it’s so full of subtle snark that I pick up more each time. Similarly, Douglas Adams’ Long Dark Teatime of the Soul.

    The world Arturo Perez-Reverte created in the Club Dumas and the Flanders Panel is someplace I like to visit a lot as well. So those five are probably my most frequent re-reads. Not so much annually anymore, but regularly. 🙂

  9. Jessica says:

    The only books that I consistently find the time to reread are my Tamora Pierce “Alanna” series, the “Harry Potter” series, and one here or there from J.D. Robb’s “In Death” series. Otherwise, there are just too many new books out there to choose from!!

  10. Alexa says:

    We are huge fans of Where is Baby’s Belly Button here too, also Mog and the Katie and Olly books ~ I believe I can quote them.

    I forgot about books from childhood and I did adore The Little Princess and The Silver Sword and The Dark is Rising series.

    Glad you liked the topic 🙂

  11. Virginia says:

    I reread pretty much every book I own at some point or another. There are quite a few that I reread pretty regularly.

    From childhood I’ve been rereading The Chronicles of Narnia, The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Elizabeth George Speare), The True Confession of Charlotte Doyle (Avi), and everything Tamora Pierce wrote set in Tortall. These are the characters and worlds that kept me company as we moved every other summer. They are my oldest friends and I often feel the need to catch up with them.

    The main adult books I reread are Heather Grahman’s historical romance series about the Cameron family, Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series (Napoleonic spies), and Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series (lots of Greek mythology in these). The Graham books were the first romance novels I ever read and will always hold a special place in my heart. The Willig and Kenyon series make me laugh, cry, and fall in love with the characters over and over again so I keep coming back for me.

  12. Tiff says:

    I’m a constant re-reader of favorites. I love the familiarity of the words and rediscovering characters again.

    Like you, I’ve probably read the Anne series a zillion times (but not Windy Poplars, Ingleside, or Rainbow Valley). I also love re-reading Madeleine L’Engle’s work (A Ring of Endless Light is still one of my favorite books). Ian McEwan’s The Daydreamer is an annual re-read (if you haven’t read it, you should – it’s so beautiful!). Nick Bantock’s Gryphon and Sabine books are wonderful to look at and re-read. And I always re-read three picture books every year: The Balloon Tree by Phoebe Gilman, Tree of Cranes by Allan Say, and The Polar Express by Chris van Allsburg (the latter two at Christmas).

    I’ve read Pride & Prejudice countless times (who hasn’t?), and a bunch of Virginia Woolf’s novels several times as well. I have definitely re-read some of the Harry Potter series and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. And yeah, I’ll admit it, I’ve re-read the whole SSG series at least two times.

    When I was doing my MA, I had to re-read books constantly so that I could study them…so I’m sure I’ve re-read a ton of books that aren’t my faves either.

    In the last year, I re-read Melissa Walker’s Lovestruck Summer, Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss and Kay Cassidy’s Cinderella Society. I just can’t get enough of the latter two. =)

    Thanks for the reminder re: Anne, by the way. I think I’m going to go read Anne of the Island and Anne’s House of Dreams now. =P

  13. Diana says:

    Celine, I do like you — I often re-read books when sequels come out. I also re-read books when starting WORK on sequels, if there’s been a break. (But in general I hate re-reading my own books, since I always find things I wish I’d done better).

  14. Diana says:

    Lenore, I read Doomsday, but it was so horrifying I don’t think I ever want to do so again. 😉 Great, but horrifying.

    And isn’t Lips Touch divine? That third story might be one of my favorite stories of all time, and I only first read it a year ago!

  15. Diana says:

    Jen, I ABSOLUTELY am with you on that one — it’s the kid books I read and re-read. There’s something special about books we read when we were younger, a magic that can never really be recreated. Like my favorite book of all time is probably the Count of Monte Cristo, but it’s so huge, I only read it once, I wonder if it would still be my favorite if I read it again or again, or if, really, my favorite is Anne of the Island or The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which I have read countless times.

  16. Diana says:

    Sandy, that’s so beautiful! “Books are a living conversation between the reader and the writer.” I’ll have to remember that one.

    With LOTR, once was enough for me. LOL. Also, I don’t know if I could ever fairly recreate the circumstances under which I read it — in a tent in New Zealand. There’s something about reading the scene where Eowyn kills the Witch King WHILE sitting in the shadow of an active volcano that can never be equaled in my rocking chair in DC.

  17. Diana says:

    Rhiannon, Gabaldon has a gift. She can describe flowers for pages and you’re still riveted. I feel that way with Jean Auel — it got tot he point where I’d skip all the sex scenes (Jondalar isn’t worthy of Ayla, IMO) and just skip to all the descriptions of flowers or hunting.

    I know what you mean about getting lost in worlds, though. I do admit to reading the same fave scenes over and over: The deathwater, dufflepod, and dragon scenes in Dawn Treader, the “gift basket” and moth dress scenes in Limberlost, all the scenes with Phil in Anne of the Island…

  18. Diana says:

    Rae, that’s a good point about re-reading at bedtime. I wonder if it’s left over from the comfort we got as children re-reading the same old bedtime stories. Now that I’m reading to my own child, and I see how excited she gets when I pick up a particular book that she recognizes and knows and loves (gotta love those non-verbal cues) and I wonder if I’m not doing the same thing, internally, when my hand reaches out for Anne again instead of something on the TBR pile.

  19. Elizabeth says:

    I re-read whatever Harry Potter book is being turned into a movie next so that I can properly critique the director’s vision. And I re-read the third Secret Society Girl book, for reasons that I’m sure are clear to those who have read it too 🙂

  20. Annie says:

    I very seldom reread, mainly because I’m always overwhelmed by all the books I haven’t read yet! Not that I reread it every year, but the book I’ve probably read the most is A Prayer of Owen Meany by John Irving. And I cry every time!

    Of course, I reread the kids’ books ALL THE TIME! Naomi’s current favorite is Harold and the Purple Crayon which is a personal favorite of mine as well. Josie seems to be on an Eric Carle kick lately with The Greedy Python getting pulled from her bookshelf with regularity.

    We are all big Boynton fans in this house and I believe I have most of her books memorized and recite them for the girls in the car when they’re getting antsy.

  21. PurpleRanger says:

    I’ve re-read A WRINKLE IN TIME several times; don’t think I’ve done it as often with the sequels.

    The HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE series by Douglas Adams — do you really have to ask why?

    BIMBOS OF THE DEATH SUN by Sharyn McCrumb — really funny book.

    I re-read favorite scenes from the Honor Harrington books that I’ve read from time. (I still have to read a couple of the most recent books for the first time, not to mention the two spin-off series.)

    Oh, good grief. I could probably go on for several pages if I really thought about it.

  22. Amy says:

    Well I re-read alot as well. Currently, I’m re-reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (because the movie is coming out), and the first book in the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. And Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.

  23. Diana says:

    Julie, my MIL *loves* the Vorkosgian books. I hear they are fantastic. One day… I”ll catch up on my TBR.

  24. Cassandra says:

    I love re-reading books a little too much… so much so that I had to put an “only re-read books with audio versions” policy into effect so I could still tackle my TBR shelf. I listen to Harry Potter all the time and Hunger Games and Catching Fire are getting up there, all of Douglas Adams’ books, Frank Herbert’s Dune series (the originals), The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede, Valiant by Holly Black… There are quite a few others I would LIKE to have audiobooks of, but those are the ones I reach for the most often.

  25. Kaitlyn Foster says:

    Over and over and over again–Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder; Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan; The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong; Persistence of Memory by Amelia Atwater Rhodes; and The Line by Teri Hall. All of them are simply amazing, and I read them each at least once a year.

  26. Diana says:

    Kaitlyn, that’s interesting that you picked all recent releases. Are there any books you read as a child that hit you that hard?

    In the case of Immortal Beloved and The Line, especially — they were REALLY recent. Immortal Beloved only came out last year — so you’ve re-read it once, I’m guessing.

  27. I had huge swathes of books which I reread every year or two. During my first pregnancy, during which I became what I could only describe as ‘booksick’ and found myself unable to read new books, I went through my ultimate lists of comfort reading:

    Everything by Tamora Pierce
    The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold
    Everything by Connie Willis
    Everything by Diana Wynne Jones
    The Falco books by Lindsey Davis
    All the Harriet books by Dorothy Sayers (and, okay, Jill Paton Walsh)
    Tam Lin by Pamela Dean

    At the end of all that, I was dizzy with reread, and between the glut of that year and the fact that my reading time dipped suddenly with the birth of my daughter, I stopped re-reading altogether.

    I now have two daughters and even less re-reading time! I’ve been missing it lately, and stacking up lists of books I want to rediscover, but my To Read shelf is so wide and vast and mighty…

    My solution in recent months has been audio books. There are some fantastic unabridged versions out there, and some cool dramatisations, too. I have trouble listening patiently to an audio book when the text is unfamiliar, but if it’s a re-read, it’s a revelation. So I have been rediscovering Falco and The Forsyte Saga and Pratchett’s witch books with great delight!

  28. Becky says:

    It is so funny to read this post. I check the blog on occasion (every couple months or so) but felt the need to today because I just finished re-reading the Secret Society Girl series for the third time…and I started rereading the day of this post, despite not having read the post topic at the time. I know a good series when for days and sometimes weeks I try to picture what is going on in the (fictional) characters lives post books. And even though this was my third go-round, I again tried to picture Amy and Jamie and the cast of characters after the end of Tap and Gown.

    Also, as a sidenote, every time I have reread this series I feel the need to Wikipedia Yale and try to picture what the story is like at Eli for all the location descriptions (colleges, etc.). Def. having college envy (I LOVED my college, but I want to live Amy’s life, minus the drownings and sabotage by the other society)…well maybe I just want her time with Jamie? Ahhh well.