Thursday thirteen: re-reading

This will be a pooter-ish post, one that might get me soundly mocked. But, in the spirit of Danielle’s post from yesterday and in the spirit of book-blogging solidarity, because many people think lists and reading plans and TBR piles are fun, here we go!

Inspired by another one of Danielle’s posts, I’m going to try my own list of books I’d re-read. I’d like to re-read more than I do because, if the book is a good one, the second time around feels so much richer. I sometimes retain so little of what I read, and I’m afraid it’s because I rush through things and don’t absorb them properly. But there are so many wonderful new books out there … anyway, here’s a list of things I’d likely turn to if I got the urge to re-read.

1. Anything by Jane Austen, even though I’ve already re-read the novels a lot. In fact, I’ve read all her major novels except Northanger Abbey multiple times; I don’t even know how many times. I turn to them when I want something comfortable and familiar and lengthy; they feel like an indulgence. I’ve also been assigned many of her books for various classes. What I haven’t done is read her juvenalia, which I really must do some day.

2. The Moonstone. I’m guessing that many of the books in this list will be ones I’ve already read multiple times. I can be such a creature of habit. The Moonstone is wonderful fun and I never seem to tire of it; I think I’ve read it twice, although it’s possible I’ve read it a third time. At any rate, I’d be happy to read it again. What I really like is the way Collins tells the same story from multiple perspectives.

3. Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and/or Mrs. Dalloway. To the Lighthouse I’ve read at least twice; I’m not sure about Mrs. Dalloway, but I love them both.

4. A.S. Byatt’s Possession. I’m not being original here — Danielle mentioned this one too — but it was so much fun. This is one I’ve read only once.

5. The Anne of Green Gables books. I’ve read these books who knows how many times, but I’ve never re-read them as an adult. It would be interesting to see if my responses to them would change.

6. Anything by George Eliot. I’ve already read Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda twice and Adam Bede and Silas Marner once. I read The Mill on the Floss in High School, so that’s probably the one I’d choose were I to read Eliot again. What can I say — I love the Victorian novel.

7. Crime and Punishment. I read this book during college, I think, in the summer, and was enthralled. I’d like to go back and see if I have the same intense experience.

8. The Phillip Pullman series. I read this just last spring and tore my way through them; I’d get a kick out of doing it again. This sounds like a wonderful thing to do during the holidays — just hunker down and read fun novels really fast.

9. Philip Lopate’s The Art of the Personal Essay. If I haven’t read all the essays in that book, I’ve read most of them and they are definitely worth returning to.

10. Swann’s Way. Yeah, I read it just last summer, but this is a book that rewards multiple readings and I can already see that I’m going to want to look at parts of In Search of Lost Time again.

11. Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes. I love this kind of smart, quirky, unconventional novel.

12. Flannery O’Connor’s short stories. She’s so fascinating and odd and she’s such a master of the short story, I can see myself re-reading some or all of them. Maybe her novels too, both of which I’ve read once each.

13. Mary Oliver’s book of poems American Primitive. Poetry is an obvious thing to re-read — it can be so complex and rich and it’s short and so doesn’t require a huge time commitment — and yet I didn’t think of it much as I was making this list.

I could probably think of more, but I was beginning to slow down toward the end of that list; I guess when I re-read I tend to turn to the same very small number of books, mainly Victorian or early 20C novels. I could have put Tolstoy and James on that list too.

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