The stack of new books perched precariously on a child’s stool by the door in my bedroom is taller than my six-year-old and gaining on my 5’4” height fast. My e-reader is full to bursting with books, manuscripts, my renewed subscriptions to The New Yorker and Vanity Fair (which will be less entertaining and provocative now that Christopher Hitchens is gone), episodes of Mad Men I never seem to be able to watch when they run on TV and the awesomely addictive Words With Friends app. So, perversely, I’m thinking about books I’ve loved or that have been game changers for me that I want to re-read.
I think I’d start with The Good Soldier, Ford Maddox Ford’s perennially underrated masterpiece, move on to some lighter reading with the deliciously unsettling Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier, and, if I’m still in re-tread mode after that, dive into the prodigiously brilliant One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Thing is, if I go down this road, Jeffrey Eugenides will have finished another novel before I go back to my tottering pile.
What is it that makes us have to go back and re-read, sometimes obsessively so, our favorite book(s)? What magic or comfort or insight do we find there the second of fifteenth time around? Most book lovers I know have at least one title they revisit time and again and clearly it’s a widespread phenomenon.
So, what books do you find you go back to over and over again? Maybe your choices will inspire my own.