The Re-Readables
March 21, 2016 12:53 PM   Subscribe

What book(s) can you read over and over and over again?

In my quest to read more I've found I'm drawn back to old favourites that I've already read multiple times. I'm ok with this because the reason they are re-readable is obviously because they are GOOD books that are lovable and rewarding to return to.

So I'd like to expand this repertoire by trying books that other people re-read often. It'd be cool if you could say what you get out of re-reading your familiar old pals. Any reason- comfort, difficulty, humour, identification, whatever.
posted by mymbleth to Media & Arts (162 answers total) 287 users marked this as a favorite
 
I learned about this book from Metafilter, actually. I'm about to start my fourth reading of To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis. This book is like warm cocoa on a cold day. It's funny, heartwarming, never mean-spirited, and everything turns out all right in the end. I adore it.
posted by backwards compatible at 12:56 PM on March 21, 2016 [37 favorites]


I've re-read Thomas Harris' Hannibal many times because of his descriptions of Florence.
posted by neushoorn at 1:00 PM on March 21, 2016


I've read Wolf Hall (Hilary Mantel) at least 4 times now, and Bring Up the Bodies maybe 3. This is a perfect storm for me of people and a time period I find fascinating, and writing that is unparalleled. At least two of my "reads" have been audiobook "listens" and whoo boy is Wolf Hall read beautifully. Simon Slater gets every damn joke in the book and very subtly conveys them, and good golly his Cardinal Wolsey is genius.

Also: The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I love the atmosphere in that book, I think because I went to a college very similar to the one she describes. I feel like I can picture it so well.

Pride & Prejudice is another one that I don't think can be read too often. I get to chuckling just thinking about some of the things that are said in that book. The girls' dad is really hilarious.
posted by janey47 at 1:02 PM on March 21, 2016 [16 favorites]


Oddly, because they are crime novels and knowing how they end would seem to be detrimental to satisfying reading, Agatha Christie's Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot books. They are so cozy. Also Anne Tyler's novels. And I just re-read Michel Houellebecq's The Map and the Territory again in a day and loved it just as much the second time (but many don't like it the first time). Jane Austen, as I see another commenter has mentioned, are also great re-reads.
posted by mmw at 1:05 PM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


I've re-read Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer multiple times. Each time, a different character has spoken to me, as I've been in different life phases and thus relate to different characters more. I'm looking forward to another re-read in a few years because I think a new character will be my "voice." (And it's a darn good meaningful book in general.)

I also like to re-read long complicated series, like A Song of Ice and Fire, over again because I notice new details/ foreshadowing/ puzzles fitting together each time.
posted by metasarah at 1:07 PM on March 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries--cozies for people who like 40s-50s NYC, basically. It's mostly about the character banter; I guess you could say it's one of the best workplace comedies ever.
posted by praemunire at 1:07 PM on March 21, 2016 [7 favorites]


The Master and Margarita, definitely. Come to think of it, it's been a year or more since I last read it, so probably time to read it again. Catch-22 holds up well to rereading. Slaughterhouse-Five as well; I usually reread 2-5 Vonnegut books ever summer, and it's always one of them.
posted by General Malaise at 1:07 PM on March 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


The Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay is mine. Oddly, it's not my favourite book of his (A Song for Arbonne), but it's the one I keep going back to. I'll frequently read or hear something or will have something happen to me that will remind me of an aspect of a character's life from this book which will in turn get me thinking about it, and then sooner or later I'll be on my nth read through.
posted by ODiV at 1:08 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've re-read The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham probably six or seven times. I read it for the first time as summer reading for my sophomore AP English class, and I've read it again every three or four years since. I was just thinking yesterday that it's time to read it again.

I'm reading A la recherche du temps perdu right now. I've never finished it, but the prose is so beautiful that I've re-read it several times to the point where I've eventually given up each time before now because I can't make progress as a result of re-reading.
posted by kevinbelt at 1:08 PM on March 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


"Fatherland" by Robert Harris, evidently
posted by thelonius at 1:08 PM on March 21, 2016


The Secret History is a big re-read book for me, too.

Louise Gluck's poetry collection The Seven Ages is neat to check in with as I grow older and my life experiences change.

Far North by Marcel Theroux is a little different every time I read it, and every time I read it it feels more contemporary.

Lolita and Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle are two Nabokovs that are similar but very dense, and also offer different gifts with each re-reading.
posted by witchen at 1:08 PM on March 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


Watership Down
I generally read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell each winter
J Carey's Kushiel books
about to re-read Foucault's Pendulum for the first time in years
posted by supermedusa at 1:08 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Dune - the web of subplots and inferred relationships between characters and story elements, the complexity of the ecosystem - each favors a reread. not to mention the tragegy of yueh.
posted by j_curiouser at 1:10 PM on March 21, 2016 [10 favorites]


The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor
At Home by Bill Bryson (I admit, I haven't finished it, but mostly because I don't want it to end!)
posted by onecircleaday at 1:13 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Beach by Alex Garland (usually during the summer, as it really "transports" me). Incidentally, I just recently saw a guy in line at the airport holding it and I said, "I love that book--have you finished it yet?" And he laughed, "Many times!" So apparently I am not the only one!

And on preview: SO SO seconding Bill Bryson's At Home! I have read it probably a dozen times--I can open it to almost any page and read something interesting that I don't remember reading before.
posted by lovableiago at 1:14 PM on March 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


There are a few Anne Tyler novels that I reread every few years: Saint Maybe, Ladder of Years, The Accidental Tourist.

I started reading Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga when it was three books. Now it’s nearing 20 books and I reread the whole series from start to finish periodically. I love how my perception of the books changes as I get older and according to what’s happening in my own life.

I reread the Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery and the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace every ten years or so. Pure childhood comfort reading.
posted by Kriesa at 1:14 PM on March 21, 2016 [10 favorites]


For me, everything Diana Wynne Jones has written (particularly the Howl's Moving Castle series, Deep Secret, and the Chrestomanci books). Her plots are just twisty enough that there's something new to catch every time, and they're delightfully cozy.
Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game is also excellent, for similar reasons.
posted by staraling at 1:15 PM on March 21, 2016 [16 favorites]


The Westing Game was my favorite book as a kid, and though it's a "kid's book", whenever I re-read it as an adult (which I do probably at least every 5 years), I'm surprised by how well it holds up and how I identify with different characters depending on my age and mood.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:15 PM on March 21, 2016 [13 favorites]


(what are the odds)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:16 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I should have clarified - all of my suggestions have one thing in common. They all are rich in detail and the descriptions of the setting. I especially loved the Goldfinch for the depth of its characters and the deep detail Tartt went into in describing things like, say, antique restoration, that have very little to do with the plot as a whole, but somehow reflect the story in an ineffable way. All of them have that quality to one degree or another.
posted by onecircleaday at 1:17 PM on March 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


And ohmygosh I forgot "The Secret Garden." I've read that a dozen times and it never gets old! Again, that "setting and place" thing....
posted by onecircleaday at 1:18 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've reread Franny & Zooey about once a year since I was in college.
posted by thursdaystoo at 1:20 PM on March 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (which, perhaps not incidentally, I've always thought is underrated as a work of feminist literature). I've also read The Grapes of Wrath about a dozen times, if not more, over the course of my lifetime even though I otherwise don't care for Steinbeck.
posted by holborne at 1:21 PM on March 21, 2016 [17 favorites]


I'd like to nth The Westing Game. It is indeed a great book; one I read a lot as a kid and one I've enjoyed still as an adult.

The two books I've re-read most often are Jurassic Park (which I have reread a thousand billion times and will reread forever because there's something deeply wrong with me, also dinosaurs) and Crome Yellow.

Crome Yellow is by far and away the book I've recommended most often to others.

Here are the things I like about Crome Yellow:
-it is short
-it is funny (very funny)
-it is Downton Abbey with horrible people (kinda)
-The main character is an intellectual hopeful kid in his early 20s. I first read the book in my early 20s. When I first read the book I was kind of like oh god this is me, this is me and my friends, shit. As I got older and reread the book, it became much more of an "aww, it was me and my friends" and "ha, well I was never that bad" kind of thing. And now I reread it and I'm like "ohhh, kids, what will they do next."
-did I mention it is funny
posted by phunniemee at 1:22 PM on March 21, 2016 [6 favorites]


A bit of a a cliche, I know, but The Great Gatsby, primarily for the beauty of the language.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:25 PM on March 21, 2016 [11 favorites]


Anthem by Ayn Rand - short, thought-provoking, easy

Arctic Homestead - learn new details each time I read it, adventurous, easy to read
posted by Sassyfras at 1:26 PM on March 21, 2016


Neil Gaiman - American Gods, Ocean at the End of the Lane and Good Omens.
posted by dchrssyr at 1:27 PM on March 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


Oh! And Jane Eyre - it's so everything.
posted by Sassyfras at 1:28 PM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Anything by Terry Pratchett.

Seconding To Say Nothing of the Dog.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and also The Hobbit.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

on preview:

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
posted by cooker girl at 1:28 PM on March 21, 2016 [13 favorites]


There are very few books I've read twice. There is only one I've read six times. Conversation in the Cathedral by Mario Vargas Llosa is my desert island book.
posted by night_train at 1:33 PM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


The ones I reread pretty much every year are:

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (books 1-3, sometimes 4)
Time And Again
Northanger Abbey
A Little Princess (yeah, the kids' book)

Books I reread a lot and am always amazed how much I love them that I don't reread them more:

The Last Unicorn
The Age of Innocence
Bel Canto
Possession
(but all of these are sad books, so maybe I can only take them so often)
posted by Mchelly at 1:42 PM on March 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


Anne of Green Gables is my happy place. It's gentle, moving, uplifting, rich in character and setting detail, and the story deepens the more you read it. I have probably read it more than 100 times.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:43 PM on March 21, 2016 [7 favorites]


I have to reread "The Phantom Tollbooth" every few years or so. I recommend this practice.
posted by millipede at 1:43 PM on March 21, 2016 [18 favorites]


Whenever I reread Going After Cacciato, I am reminded of the power imagination and will have to make any circumstances bearable. The Things They Carried is Tim O'Brien's most acclaimed book, but that's a story/ies about other people. Cacciato is as much about the reader as it is about the characters.
posted by headnsouth at 1:45 PM on March 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


I read Zelazny's A Night in the Lonesome October most falls in the lead-up to Halloween. It's short, funny and has the most amazing cartoons by Gahan Wilson. I've had at least two copies over the years having worn one to tatters. The other is obviously well-loved but has a place of honour on the shelf now, as I got a pdf of it a few years back. But fall is my favourite time of year, and this book complements it for me like little else.
posted by bonehead at 1:48 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


I also tend to reread the short stories of Salinger and Raymond Carver but that is probably a mix of nostalgia and love of the form than anything else.
posted by headnsouth at 1:49 PM on March 21, 2016


Cold Comfort Farm is a great pick-me-up; it just sparkles.

I feel an urge to re-read Anne of Green Gables when the weather changes in spring and autumn - Montgomery seems to spend a lot of time describing the Island in these seasons and though I find the prose becomes purpler the older I get, it's so evocative and comforting and I just love it.

All of Jane Austen; Pride and probably yearly. I seem to find new layers and perspectives each time and there's a book for every mood.
posted by Naanwhal at 1:52 PM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Jurassic Park (which I have reread a thousand billion times and will reread forever because there's something deeply wrong with me, also dinosaurs)

Oh, me too!!! It's been my favorite book for 20 years now! I know I've read it at least 5 times, but I've stopped counting... Anyway, yes, dinosaurs. Plus, there's more to the book than the movie and it's wildly entertaining.

I've also read Catch-22 at least 3 times. It was one of those books I originally had to read for school, and as I get older with each reread I get more out of it.
posted by phatkitten at 1:52 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Every time I move I end up re-reading all the Sam Vimes volumes of Terry Pratchett Discworld series.
posted by machine at 1:54 PM on March 21, 2016 [18 favorites]


Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta gets trotted out about once a year or so. I first discovered it on a long road trip, via audiobook. It's one of those rare, beautiful stories that you find yourself discovering at the exact moment when it will resonate with you the most as a reader.

It was the first time I'd read about depression and how it affects a family in a book, and I first read it around the time I was struggling with a major bout of depression. That book was (one of many) factors that helped me come to terms with my depression (it honestly probably saved my life). When I reread it, I feel like I'm being understood and comforted all over again. I'm still here, and this story's still here, and you know what? We're pretty okay.
posted by PearlRose at 1:57 PM on March 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


To Say Nothing of the Dog is indeed a great re-read. So is Doomsday Book, but it's darker.

I also re-read Pride & Prejudice and other Jane Austen quite regularly.

Master & Commander and the rest of the Aubrey/Maturin books. There are jokes like, 7 books in that I wait for and wait for and wait for and then feel such pleasure when I get to them again.

Cryptonomicon. For the humor, and my love of the characters.
posted by not that girl at 1:59 PM on March 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


Haruki Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. It's my favorite book of his, and I've read it four or five times (usually when something major has changed in my life). I'm due for another read of it now.
posted by minsies at 2:00 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


I am not a re-reader, but there are certain books that were created to be re-read. Nabokov's Pale Fire is one of those books.
It is a funny, haunting, mysterious puzzle that offers something more with each subsequent approach, and i say approach because the format of the narrative, in its four separate parts, allows the reader to choose how to read and re-read the text. It is a book that was hyperlinked (in 1962) long before the idea was born. It is a book for folks who have Shakespeare, Eliot, Webster's 2nd edition and an atlas readily at hand, and yet requires none of those to move the reader to tears of sorrow or of laughter within the turn of a page.
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:12 PM on March 21, 2016 [10 favorites]


One of the more frequently-mentioned books on Ask, A Short History of Nearly Everything is a great book to read and reread and reread. I go through this one about once a year and am always reminded of amazing things that I'd forgotten about entirely. Bryson writes with humor and has a great sense of cosmic scale.
posted by duffell at 2:13 PM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


I used to read Wuthering Heights every other year or so for about 20 years, starting at age 14 when I didn't get out of pajamas for a whole weekend and just lay there immersed it it. The reason I recommend WH for rereading is because you find yourself sometimes most attentively oriented towards the plot, sometimes towards the rush of emotion, sometimes towards the elaborate structure. Actually it's been awhile and now I want to read it again, so thank you for the reminder.
posted by flourpot at 2:16 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


When I am homesick, I reread the Tiffany Aching books (the first three), but most especially A Hat Full Of Sky.
Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.
posted by ChuraChura at 2:18 PM on March 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


Bleak House, Middlemarch, Daniel Deronda, Vanity Fair...
posted by thomas j wise at 2:19 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Agree with The Razor's Edge. I read that every few years.

And Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. For a while, I read that every year. I went many years without a reread and just read it again. I still found it profound. It speaks to me in different ways every time I read it.

And when I'm feeling overwhelmed, any Jane Austen will do.
posted by FencingGal at 2:27 PM on March 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


Books I have re-read so many times I have lost count:
Pride & Prejudice, Austen
Emma, Austen
Anne of Green Gables, Montgomery
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Smith
Girl With a Pearl Earring, Chevalier
Heaven to Betsy, Lovelace
Ballet Shoes, Streatfeild
Neverwhere, Gaiman
The Graveyard Book, Gaiman
posted by like_neon at 2:54 PM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Evelyn Waugh's Scoop, Black Mischief, Decline and Fall. The jokes stand up to repeating. Very rare in a comic novel.

Norman Douglas' Old Calabria. A great deal of obscure learning lightly displayed and shared in a way not designed to make the reader feel stupid; good humor, style (a tad old fashion, but then, so am I).

John Fischer's The Stupidity Problem. His own voice and POV stands up surprisingly for dating back to the fifties.

Joseph Bishop. Obiter Dicta. Essay on the law. The style is wonderful, the range admirable, and he makes jokes. I am not a lawyer, and don't take much serious interest in the field, but this book is an exception.

Both my mother and my wife re-read the entire Mapp and Lucia books once a year, ditto Love in a Cold Climate. For jokes and for having made old friends with the characters.

Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. The whole panoply of human foolishness in a rich and savory prose. And again, for the jokes. Seriously.
posted by BWA at 3:08 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


All of Jane Austen
Jane Eyre

Yeah. That's the stuff.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:13 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm not much of a re-reader--so many books I haven't met yet!--but I'm about to begin a re-read of The Little Prince. I remember it being a big pick-me-up when I last encountered it, so I'm hoping for a repeat of the same.

It's also really short, and that suits my current schedule nicely.
posted by xenization at 3:24 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


I can reread pretty much any book over and over, as I find it very difficult to remember any details at all that I've read when I've finished the book (yes, that meant I was very bad at exams). However, what I do remember is how much pleasure I got from reading it, so there are actually very few books I've been so obsessed with: Finn Family Moomintroll and The Exploits of Moominpappa when I was a child; When I was older I read Michael Moorcock's The Dancers at the End of Time and Brahms and Simon's No Bed for Bacon (which I think technically should count as my favourite books ever) about once a year. And yes, several Terry Pratchetts and Good Omens.
posted by Grangousier at 3:25 PM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Eleanor & Park
Dune
The City and the City
Slaughterhouse 5
Fahrenheit 451
Duncan the Wonder Dog
Jimmy Corrigan
Watchmen
posted by oflinkey at 3:27 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I first read Toni Morrison's Beloved when I was 17 and my then-boyfriend was studying it at University. I totally fell in love with it and I took the same class when I went to Uni the next year. Every so often it calls to me and I've re-read it more times than I can count. I adore all her books but that's the one that both uplifts me and breaks my heart the most with the beauty of her writing.

On the total other end of the scale, Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes makes me happy. Although it's marketed as "chick lit" (ugh) it's a book about addiction but it's very witty and warm.
posted by billiebee at 3:27 PM on March 21, 2016


I have re-read the Ancillary Justice trilogy many times, they are my go-to books right now.

Others I like to re-read:
Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf)
Death Comes for the Archbishop (Willa Cather)
Burning Bright (Melissa Scott)
Straight Man (Richard Russo)
Just Kids (Patti Smith)
Dorothy Sayers mysteries, particularly Have His Carcase and Murder Must Advertise
posted by expialidocious at 3:28 PM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


A Thousand Plateaus
Souls of the Labadie Tract
A.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:31 PM on March 21, 2016


Joseph Conrad's "Lord Jim."

Seconding Dune and The Secret History.

Though I have the ambition to reread Banks' Culture novels, so far I've only reread Consider Phlebas a few times and one or two others once. I still find new things in them, though.

The Sprawl Trilogy by William Gibson (Neuromancer et al.)
posted by Sunburnt at 3:37 PM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Any collection of Borges' short stories, although my favourite is Labyrinths. I've owned a copy for longer than I haven't, and it's perfect for dipping into and rereading slowly, piece by piece.
posted by doop at 3:42 PM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


I also don’t re read very often, but the Sherlock Holmes books are a big exception.

The Razor’s Edge and Moorcock’s The Dancers at the End of Time books are also on the short list of things I’ve read multiple times.
posted by bongo_x at 3:54 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


(What I get out of rereading Labyrinths: it's very rich - comforting and familiar yet also complex and haunting. I still find new angles on it when rereading. I'm most likely to see parts of it anew when my life has changed or moved on in some way, yet even that tendency to interpret ones life through some odd lens is something that he prods at in the stories themselves. A sort of delightful languid recursion.)
posted by doop at 4:02 PM on March 21, 2016


I love this question, because sometimes I feel a bit silly re-reading books when there are so many I haven't read or started (Hello, Count Tolstoy, I umm, have your book right here!)

But I really like to re read the Aubrey / Maturin books by Patrick O'Brian. There is just so much to them that I find even the things I remember reading before feel new, depending on my mood.

Also, nthing Lord of the Rings/Hobbit and Diskworld.

Of course once a year, I re-read Gatsby, the finest American novel of the first half of the 20th Century.
posted by Ecgtheow at 4:13 PM on March 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


Seconding Catch-22. It's so convoluted and funny that it feels fresh every time—and the tragedy hurts just as much every time.
posted by ejs at 4:19 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've read The World According to Garp many, many times. The structure is fairly episodic chapter by chapter so it's easy to pick up and put down, and sometimes I start a re-read in the middle instead of the beginning, or just re-read that one perfect chapter for the moment, and it's very beautiful and satisfying.
posted by telegraph at 4:34 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Dorothy L. Sayers's Gaudy Night — there's so MUCH in that book, and every time I read it I feel like it's speaking to me at this specific point in my life.
posted by you're a kitty! at 4:38 PM on March 21, 2016 [6 favorites]


There are many good suggestions here, but in order to live a happy and fruitful life I suggest that every winter you read Rudyard Kipling's Kim and every summer you read Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman. The latter is the definition of a summer book but Kim doesn't have much to do with the winter, it's just a nice way to balance things out over a year.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 4:41 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Home Cooking and More Home Cooking, by Laurie Colwin. For me, they are the definition of comfort reading.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:55 PM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Gaudy Night, yes, and also The Nine Tailors, also by Sayers.

And Tom Brown's School Days. Oh, and Laurie Lee - Cider with Rosie; and As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning.
posted by rtha at 5:25 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I, Claudius/Claudius The God by Robert Graves
Creation by Gore Vidal
...are full of intimate detail, wit, scenes of weird intensity... with elegant flowing style.

Glancing at the above lists are some titles that I've been meaning to read or re-read.
On my intention to re-read list are: Ben Okri; Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Lewis Carroll; etc.
posted by ovvl at 5:51 PM on March 21, 2016


Yet another vote for The Secret History. Love, love, love that book.

Also:
Catcher In The Rye
From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
The Rules of Attraction (Never mind the movie. The book is fantastic.)
Story of My Life (by Jay McInerney. Highly underrated.)
posted by SisterHavana at 6:11 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's pretty dated now in jarring ways but I still end up reading The Moon is a Harsh Mistress every year or so.

More currently I keep re-reading The Iron Druid Chronicles every time a new segment drops. The final book is expected this year so now is a perfect time to get started.
posted by Mitheral at 6:34 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Maybe because they were old before I got to them, and because I read them while I was still young, I have a lot of love for a lot of Heinlein's writing. (Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, etc) His fairly-futuristic sci-fi envisioning of how women's role in society works out... is pretty firmly rooted in a generation somewhere before mine.

Maybe because I read them when I was older, and because they're not yet old, and because they have the tone of Heinlein with a more modern take on women in the world... John Scalzi's a damn fine writer as well. (Old Man's War, Agent to the Stars, Redshirts, etc)

I've read both sets more times than I'd perhaps like to admit.
posted by talldean at 6:52 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


The big standalones by Ruth Rendell (sometimes writing as Barbara Vine). King Solomon's Carpet; The Chimney-Sweeper's Boy; A Fatal Inversion. For me, these are books you can live in, without quite being epic novels. Possession by A.S. Byatt, for similar reasons.

The Cairo Trilogy, by Naguib Mahfouz.

I read Cloud Atlas and immediately wanted to read it again.
posted by BibiRose at 7:25 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


I have read Ursula Le Guin's The Dispossesed more times than I can count. May I be reborn on Anarres.
posted by daisystomper at 7:25 PM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


The various mentions of The Westing Game, Anne of Green Gables, The Phantom Tollbooth and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (crushed UP velvet, anyone?) are the reason I love you people.

Emma, Persuasion, and Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
The Eyre Affair (and most of the Thursday Next novels, Jasper Fforde
Neither Here Nor There and Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson
The Princess Bride, William Goldman
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 7:28 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


My favorite book, which I have read probably 20 times, is The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. I can read it over and over again because it has a story for every mood - scary ones, romantic ones, thought provoking ones, ones that make me cry, and above all, beautiful ones. They're all beautiful ones. God, that book. So good.

Also, Pet Semetery because it scares my pants off. I've read that one so many times and it still scares me.
posted by silverstatue at 7:49 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Salinger and Fitzgerald are always good for rereads, but one book I try to revisit every few years since I was 13 or 14 is Benjamin Hoff's The Tao of Pooh. Soft Eastern philosophy dissected by Winnie the Pooh and friends. It reminds me to "be" and observe life and think about my interactions carefully and attempt to reinstate balance; sometimes I allow my life to spin off on some wild tangent and forget to live a more well-balanced life.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 7:50 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I agree with quite a few of the above but my most re-read books are W. Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage, Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez and Neville Shute’s A Town Like Alice (originally titled and sometimes found as The Legacy).

Great question!
posted by mulcahy at 8:13 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes books by Laurie R. King.
Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchett.
Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley.
I listen to those three series regularly, too. Wee Free Men is a great listen.

Dorothy Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey.
I like to reread some of the Tony Hillman books, too, esp the ones that have both Jim Chee & Joe Leaphorn.

The George Smiley books by John Le Carré (beyond just Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) http://www.johnlecarre.com/books/the-smiley-novels This can take years---
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 9:28 PM on March 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


As a life-long re-reader, I love this question! The books others love to re-read include some I wouldn't consider going back to (The Secret History!) and some I feel like starting again right now (Bel Canto!).

There are two books I've been rereading since childhood: Beauty by Robin McKinley, and The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. I return to them for comfort, or sometimes because it's just been a while and I know I'll enjoy the read every time. I've even re-read Beauty twice back-to-back.

The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is a repeat re-read I've picked up as an adult. The writing hits the spot for me, though I know not everyone likes it. I also love the characters; at this point, they feel like old friends.
posted by snorkmaiden at 9:31 PM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


So many answers and no one's mentioned the Harry Potter series? I love to re-read those books. So much fun.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 9:42 PM on March 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


The Brothers K.
posted by dame at 10:43 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


All of Jane Austen. I am now on my fourth reread of Mansfield Park, after just finishing my probably 15-16th of Sense and Sensibility. Each book is so very sharply different they don't blur into each other, and they get noticeably better with more re-reading because you see more patterns and understand more. You start to think "Why are the doctors always coming in, why is she afraid of the gypsies? Why shouldn't Mary say that? How far did they make Fanny walk?" They remain just as funny - Lucy Steele's final letter had me giggling helplessly again.

Rereading Austen in depth over and over, and making an effort to read up on Austen a bit - I have maybe 10-15 Austen-related books and bios, has made reading her works a serious pleasure in my life, and a better reader overall of the other books I read (I am a heavy reader - I usually have 2-3 books at a time, and read fast).

Le Guin is a different but similar type of pleasure. Almost all of her Hainish and definitely the Earthsea series can be reread every few years. I haven't had a copy of Always Coming Home for a while, but when I did, I would re-read that like an anthology at times. Like returning to a beautiful place and seeing it with fresh eyes and memories.

And something I started doing about a decade ago now, is travelling with a poetry anthology. Mine is The Rattle Bag and it gets packed in for any overnight trip. I read it on planes and in hotel rooms and at people's houses. I've got books on my phone and usually a novel around, but the habit of having a much loved anthology with me to flip open and start reading has been a gift on stressful trips. I've discovered poems I love very much in it, poems I don't understand and struggled to re-read until I grasped some, and it's become a familiar touchstone. I buy poetry anthologies and collections occasionally and read them, but this is the only one I reread over and over because I take it with me when I travel and it's the "ten minutes while waiting to get luggage, stuck without internet for an hour somewhere" book.

Consider re-reading poetry and plays. Much shorter, more intense and very rewarding for rereading.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 11:20 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Silmarillion. You can break it up into chunks (the Ainulindalë, the Quenta Silmarillion, the Akalla- naw let's not go there) or character narratives (just the Fëanor bits, Turin -just how many names did he have?, Beren & Lúthien's excellent adventure). You can read it as a novel, or as a loose collection of quasi-historical texts, or a future movie script. You can try to parse the differences between the Sindar and the Teleri, or trace the Noldorian bloodline. You can find more links to the LOTR and Hobbit each time. You can read it for Sauron as werewolf alone! You can learn and recall more names, MORE NAMES (see how far you can get before you have to cross-reference a name)! Read to become a Middle Earth Loremaster. All of these are good reasons to pick up the Silmarillion again.
posted by brappi at 12:36 AM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


This thread has some more answers. The expert advice seems to be: Wodehouse and Hamlet.
posted by bleston hamilton station at 12:54 AM on March 22, 2016


Jack Vance, The Dying Earth.
Stanislaw Lem, The Cyberiad.
Susannah Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.
posted by pantufla_milagrosa at 1:13 AM on March 22, 2016


Everything by Theodore Sturgeon. Most things by Philip Pullman. PG Wodehouse when I'm sick and need comfort. Margaret Atwood.
posted by mgrrl at 1:25 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


A Confederacy of Dunces. Ignatius and his valve get me every single time.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 2:33 AM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Thanks all! A lot to look into. Very happy to see many books and authors I've never heard of before.

And I'll share my old favs:
I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith. I honestly feel like Cassandra Mortmain is one of my oldest friends at this point. Depending on my mood I sometimes stop reading half way through, or pick it up in the middle.

Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. They shaped my worldview and imagination a huge amount as a child, and still fill me with magic, bravery and courage. And I will always cry at the ending of The Amber Spyglass.

Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series. More YA, set in a universe I'm always happy to live in.

Middlemarch.

Anything by Tove Jansson, my favourite writer, and my mentor.

Borges, poems and short writing. Shout out to Labyrinths!
posted by mymbleth at 2:58 AM on March 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
Anything by Annie Dillard
The Star Diaries by Stanislaw Lem
posted by 256 at 4:57 AM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I can read "Little Women" over and over again. I first started reading it when I was quite young (like maybe 10?) and as I read it again each time, I get more and more out of it.

And Stephen King's "The Stand." The big, fat, unabridged version. I've read that thing at least half a dozen times and I'm sure I'll read it again someday. There's a lot of King that stands up to re-reading. He may be pop culture trash but he's ADDICTIVE pop culture trash.

Speaking of trash, I also re-read all of the Hunger Games books recently.

And not-trash: Jane Eyre. One of my favorites.
posted by Groovymomma at 7:26 AM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Holy crap, I just realized no one has mentioned Stephen King's Dark Tower series (currently under discussion on Mefi FanFare)! That one has major reread quality for me. It's a fascinating world, one that you're definitely rewarded for rereading.
posted by duffell at 7:51 AM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto. It's super comforting, it's short, and I can find a new metaphor or hidden meaning (to me at least) on every re-read.

The Harry Potter books. Dumbledore's "death is just the next adventure" helped me when my cat died.

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede, which I discovered as a kid and re-read an adult. So funny.

Tamora Pierce' Tortall universe books, which I only started reading in 2014 and have already re-read and will re-read again and again.

Meg Cabot's Teen Idol or Elizabeth Chandler's Hot Summer Nights (better than the titles make them sound!) because they have the right length for a bath.

(Also, not sure if manga counts, but there are some I read again and again, like Tokyo Babylon by Clamp or certain shoujo manga because they're quick and fun reads that don't require much thinking when I'm ill or feeling particularly hopeless, like Handsome Girl or Marmalade Boy by Wataru Yoshizumi or Hana Yori Dango by Yoko Kamio, although since it's so long I usually go for the TV drama when I'm lazy, which really doesn't belong here anymore.)
posted by LoonyLovegood at 7:53 AM on March 22, 2016


Every summer I re-read The Long Secret by Louise Fitzhugh.
posted by BibiRose at 7:59 AM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Cotillion by Georgette Heyer
Under the frog by Tibor Fischer
Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey
Anything by P.G. Wodehouse
posted by daily saunterings at 8:27 AM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also, not as an every year thing but as a once-every-4-5-years thing, I am always taken in and left better by Julian Barnes's A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters.
posted by Mchelly at 8:40 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Watership Down every year around my birthday, because it so completely submerges me in another world I can make it through the last depressing dregs of winter.

But also...

Tracks, by Robyn Davidson because it reminds me to be brave and to be true to myself.

The Atlan series by Jane Gaskel because it's saved my life a time or two.

The Animal Family, and The Bat Poet, by Randall Jarrell because, (as Pepe the King Prawn said recently) "LOVE."
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:08 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Seconding a lot of the books above - I'm an inveterate rereader who also regularly revisits Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie and the Moomins - and adding a few: Winters Tale by Mark Helprin, Little, Big by John Crowley and in the I can't believe nobody has mentioned this yet category, 100 Years of Solitude.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:50 AM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I read "Bridge of Birds" by Barry Hughart probably once a year. It's charming, mythological, hilarious, suspenseful, and just plain wonderful. An all-time favourite.
posted by arcticwoman at 10:08 AM on March 22, 2016


I reread "The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox", which incorporated "Bridge of Birds" about every two or three years. It is a bit like a literate, hilarious, slightly absurd, non-graphic comic book.

I reread the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, usually when a new one is coming out, starting with book 4, where he really hits his stride.

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. Actually, anything by Neal Stephenson. His books are extremely well written, often complex, and really original. Cryptonomicon is interesting because you can read the entire book from beginning to end, or you can select the chapters that follow one character and read them, then choose another character. It really enhanced my understanding of the book.
posted by Altomentis at 12:43 PM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Definitely The Phantom Tollbooth. I'm due for a re-read, actually, thanks for the reminder.
posted by radioamy at 1:21 PM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:21 PM on March 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


As an adult, I have re-read A Box of Matches by Nicholson Baker every winter for quite a few winters now. It's a slim volume--a domestic novel and about getting through the winter. I find it comforting.

As a kid I re-read the Emily of New Moon series by L.M. Montgomery (like Anne of Green Gables but spunkier, less moaning, feelings and dithering and more doing things). I also re-read The Spellkey Trilogy by Ann Downer quite a few times. In many ways quite a traditional fantasy story but I found it enthralling at the time and caught new nuances on each re-read.
posted by purple_bird at 3:30 PM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I reread the complete Sherlock Holmes every couple of years.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:41 PM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Whenever I feel unmoored and need to put my back up against something, I wind up rereading Dark Tower. It's one of those formative influences that just grounds me.

Also House of Leaves, the Sam Vimes Discworld books, and Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series. I've come back to Mary Doria Russell (no relation!) and her excellent Jesuits-in-Space first contact novel, The Sparrow, quite a few times as well. There's so much going on in that book-- faith and linguistics and humor and such humanity-- that I take something new away every time.
posted by dogheart at 9:08 PM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Namesake! It's sooo beautiful. I have elaborate images in my mind for every scene. It's very sad, though. I get teary every time I come to the part where Gogol's mother is writing the thank you cards.
posted by bookworm4125 at 9:35 PM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oscar Wilde's Dorian Grey can be read over and over and over again. There's so much detail in such a short book that no matter how many times you read it, you'll feel like you're reading something new.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:47 AM on March 23, 2016


It's pretty rare that I re-read anything, but every now and then it's fun to skim through Ulysses and linger over a few pages. The pub chapter in particular I could read over and over.

I doubt I'll ever re-read ALL of Proust's In Search of Lost Time, but for sure I want to dip back into parts of it again sometime.

Other thing I really want to re-read, Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet. I think I'd appreciate it much better now than I did in my 20s.

Sometimes I think about re-reading some of the Dragonriders of Pern books to see how different I find them as an adult than I did as a teenager.
posted by dnash at 8:48 AM on March 23, 2016


For me, many that have already been mentioned, but first and foremost: Peter S. Beagle, The Folk of the Air. Certainly not the best-known of his novels, and it wasn't even in print last time I checked (which is why I own multiple copies, just to be safe), but it has an air of the quietly, wryly miraculous which I always come back to.

Beyond that:
Bujold's Vorkosigan novels, particularly Barrayar and Komarr (but I keep all of them handy in e-book form for quick reference)
Neil Gaiman's Coraline
posted by McCoy Pauley at 8:59 AM on March 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


I reread Invitation to the Game by Monica Hughes every few years. It's science fiction for children, and it blew my mind when I was a kid.
posted by ShanShen at 9:25 AM on March 23, 2016


It's interesting to me how many of these are books aimed at (or at least marketed to or required reading in school for) younger readers. The best young adult work is designed to operate on many levels at once, and that is a trait that rewards repetition. The Little Prince is a great example of this for me. I can breeze through it and just enjoy the plot in its delightful simplicity, or I can take more time and consider a range of deeper meanings. There is so much room in it that I can hang all kinds of interpretation on it, so it almost always has something to tell me about what is happening right now in my life. Tove Jansson's Moomintroll books (particularly Moominland Midwinter) are similar for me.

I like that kind of repetition much better than very complicated books. It can be wonderful to reread something like Dune and notice more details each time, but to me that is like rewatching a really good movie, where re-reading The Little Prince is like having a new conversation with a close friend.
posted by cubby at 9:55 AM on March 23, 2016


I generally try to avoid returning to something I've already read, just because there's so much more out there to engage with...

but I think I pick up Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning about every three years because it's really grounding and it sort of highlights for me how my own perspective has changed over the interim. What's more important than being aware of your own reasons for living?
posted by psoas at 11:33 AM on March 23, 2016


The Count of Monte Cristo (unabridged), classic revenge tale.
Harry Potter.
Asimov's Foundation series.
The Three Musketeers series.

Your typical page-turners, basically.
posted by palbo at 11:37 AM on March 23, 2016


John Sandford's Kidd and LuEllen novels. Fool's Run and The Empress File were originally published under his wallet name, John Camp. Third and fourth are The Devil's Code and The Hanged Man's Song; they are also available in audio. I read Sandford's other characters, but these are my favorites.
posted by jaruwaan at 11:45 AM on March 23, 2016


Winter's Tale, by Mark Helprin was loaned to me by my second girlfriend, back in college. We broke up, but I still keep in touch with the book. Its epic, poetic magical realism. And its a beautiful ode to memory, nostalgia, and the emotional landscape that we build around the cities we love. Ignore the movie, and embrace the book.

Thank You and Ok!: An American Zen Failure in Japan by David Chadwick is an autobiographical account of an American-trained Buddhist's years in Japan in the late 80's. Its lighthearted and funny, insightful and thoughtful. In an era when both Buddhism and Japanese culture was being analysed ad nauseum, David Chadwick gives us a sense of both without trying to explain either. This is one of those books that feels like a good friend.
posted by eisenkrote at 11:46 AM on March 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


Seconding Watership Down. I'm about to start another re-read of it, actually.

Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain series.

I'm the weirdo who rereads The Silmarillion every couple of years.

Moby Dick. Moby Dick! MOBY DICK!
posted by KingEdRa at 11:47 AM on March 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon
Essays in Idleness - Yoshido Kenko
Pausanias - Guide to Greece
334 and On Wings of Song - Thomas Disch
The Tale of Genji - Murasaki Shikibu
The Story of the Stone - Cao Xuequin
Maske: Thaery, Emphyrio, Trullion:Alastor, Rhialto the Marvelous - Jack Vance
The Golem - Gustav Meyrink
The Books of the New Sun, Long Sun and Short Sun - Gene Wolfe
The Enquiries of Doctor Eszterhazy, Masters of the Maze, The Island Under the Earth and The Other Nineteenth Century by Avram Davidson

...to name but a few.
posted by y2karl at 12:38 PM on March 23, 2016


+1 Lolita and Pale Fire, but I've probably reread Pnin more times than both put together.

+1 The Secret History. That book is pure atmosphere. I didn't attend a small liberal arts college in New England, but every time I read it I feel like I did. The audiobook is also recommended, if you can get your hands on it.

The Magus, which has its many flaws and immaturities, but is still capable of captivating me from time to time.
posted by MimeticHaHa at 2:00 PM on March 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


Many of John McPhee's books bear re-reading. The geology essays, such as Basin and Range, Assembling California, and Annals of the Former World always present new information to me when I pick them up again. The Control of Nature, with tales of audacious undertakings like the protection of New Orleans, present projects that must be undertaken, and yet are doomed to eventual failure. The Pine Barrens and Uncommon Carriers take the reader to places, and with people, that are fascinating and compelling.

There are others in the McPhee library that can be read again and again.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 2:37 PM on March 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


King James Bible translation of Ecclesiastes. Really, it's amazing. Just skip the epilogue (12:9-14) which seems clearly tacked on to make the brilliant rest of the text fit Orthodoxy.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 2:44 PM on March 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yes, I'm a raging atheist.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 2:44 PM on March 23, 2016


Dune by Frank Herbert
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
posted by Fizz at 3:02 PM on March 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


I have two really obvious ones; The Catcher in the Rye, and 1984.

I first read Catcher when I was 10 years old, and I'm sure I didn't really understand many parts of it but it just really struck a chord in me. I really identified with Holden and thought he was cool, and likely cute. Obviously now that I'm older, I see how immature he is, but I also still really empathize with him. The book makes me feel...feelings. Lots of em.

1984 feels more relevant every re-read, and is just such a good damn book. Any dumb comment I make will just cheapen it, but if it's a book you haven't read since high school or if you never did read it, you should definitely try it out.

I re-read so much YA, I guess because it's comfortable like watching an old tv show or going through old photos. Also I read way more as a kid, so I guess I have a lot more of those to go back to. The Giver, A Wrinkle in Time, and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle are all books I read as a kid multiple times, and have enjoyed as an adult.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 7:13 PM on March 23, 2016


The Sparrow (mentioned above too)
To Kill a Mockingbird
Animal Farm, haven't reread it in many years though. Tends to make me crazy at the world.
The Watchmen
Calvin & Hobbes 10th Anniversary book (or the huge epic collection in digital form)

I reread short story collections a lot too:
Welcome to the Monkey House
Science Fiction Hall of Fame (old mass market paperbacks I've had for 20 years. They are soooo worn out)
Immortal Poems of the English Language

I gave my 8 year old nieces some of my favorite books from their age for Christmas, and reread them beforehand. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. They warmed my heart all over again.
posted by DigDoug at 7:33 PM on March 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


As many others have said, the Alice books (and Hunting of the Snark, from which my two-year-old is starting to recall passages), the Anne books, and Little Women for childhood classics, and Middlemarch and Moby-Dick for grown-up books.
posted by town of cats at 9:15 PM on March 23, 2016


Ulysses!
The Wind in the Willows.
posted by storybored at 9:16 PM on March 23, 2016


Oh my god, yeah, I've read Wind in the Willows like 500 times too.
posted by town of cats at 9:18 PM on March 23, 2016


Moby Dick. Moby Dick! MOBY DICK!

MOBY DICK!
posted by buzzv at 10:39 PM on March 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


Brave New World by Huxley. Just the perfect balance between 'thinking' and going with the flow. It's a fantastic world, without getting bogged down in lots of tedious description like some books.
posted by chrispy108 at 2:07 AM on March 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Because when life is crazy, it's always calming to think about Quality.

Ball Four, because it's baseball, and it's often hilarious.
posted by young_simba at 9:28 AM on March 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


For smiles: Decline and Fall and A Handful of Dust by Waugh. When the summer days get too hot I draw a bath and soak with one of those two.

For wonder: A Long Desire or The White Lantern, both collections of essays by Evan S. Connel
posted by benito.strauss at 10:40 AM on March 24, 2016


There's not a lot of poetry in here, so let me recommend Autumn Journal by Louis MacNeice.
posted by unless I'm very much mistaken at 2:17 PM on March 24, 2016


It's been quite a few years since my last revisit, but I think the book I've read through the most times (in part because I carried a copy with me when I was wandering around the world in the late 80s and early 90s, in part because I love it) in my life has been Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason In The West by Canadian national treasure John Ralston Saul.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:07 PM on March 24, 2016


The Lord of the Rings trilogy -- I've lost count of how many times I've re-read it.

Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.

To Kill a Mockingbird.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Good Omens.
posted by sarcasticah at 6:14 PM on March 24, 2016


Brave New World -- Aldous Huxley
Pluche, or The Love of Art -- Jean DuTourd
The Book of Ruth -- Jane Hamilton
Catch-22 -- Joseph Heller
Meditations of Marcus Aurelius -- translation by Maxwell Staniforth is best, IMO
The Godfather -- Mario Puzo
Lonesome Dove -- Larry McMurtry
Blood and Money -- Thomas Thompson
Huckleberry Finn -- Mark Twain
Lots of writing by Mark Twain, with a particular love for his later writings
LOTS of writings by Jack London
An Unfortunate Woman -- Richard Brautigan
A Confederate General From Big Sur -- Richard Brautigan
Stalingrad -- Antony Beevor
VOICES FROM STALINGRAD -- Jonathan Bastable
The Last Battle -- Cornelius Ryan
posted by dancestoblue at 12:18 AM on March 25, 2016


I reread books frequently as a child: the Anne series, Narnia, John Bellairs, Streatfield's Shoes books, the Little House series, Sherlock Holmes, spring to mind.

I reread fewer books as an adult (so many new books! and I will *run out* of time someday!), but the ones I do go back to (and I've reread all the children's books above too), tend to be the ones where reading is like visiting with old friends because I love the characters so much.

Elizabeth Peters' Vicky Bliss series. I have portions of these memorized from how many times I've read them so often in the last 25 years. Vicky, John, archaeology: direct shot to the id every time.

Melissa Barnett (and her late partner Lisa Scott)'s Points series: Point of Hopes, Point of Dreams (and now joined by Point of Knives and Fairs' Point). These are police procedurals set in a renaissance Low Country-like place where astrology and magic actually function. They also have a male/male couple as the two main characters. Every time I reread I love them more. (And that new ones are being written now is a precious, precious gift.)

Gatsby, already frequently mentioned.

Anne Brontë's Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I read Jane Eyre repeatedly in middle/high school, but this is the one that I've returned to as an adult.

Richard Stevenson's Donald Strachey mysteries (Gay PI in Albany; spans the modern history of gay men just pre-AIDS to the present). I love Don, I love Timmy, I love Albany; I actually reread Ice Blues around once a year when winter here in New England is just unbearable and I want to hear Don complain about it too (this year's lack of snow meant I didn't pull the book out for once).

Austen, as mentioned above.

I'm also feeling a pretty strong desire to return to Les Misèrables. (A million words in French is quite a time committment though.)

As a Latin teacher, I have the opportunity to visit some texts every year that really benefit from re-reading: Vergil, foremost, but really most of the Roman literature I teach. I see new things every time I go through it with the kids!
posted by lysimache at 7:15 AM on March 25, 2016


I always read Inkheart by Cornelia Funke when I'm feeling glum. Came upon it in Middle School. Instantly dreamed of being Meggie and her father, able to read characters in and out of books. Cried when I saw the film version because it was so bad...
posted by Deeleybopper at 8:59 AM on March 25, 2016


Confessions of a Crap Artist --by Philip K Dick. One of his mainstream non sci fi books, and one of my favorites.
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 12:45 PM on March 25, 2016


Hart's Hope by Orson Scott Card
The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
Count Zero by William Gibson
The Wheel of Time (the first 6 books) by Robert Jordan
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
posted by and for no one at 1:41 PM on March 25, 2016


Moby Dick & Confederacy of Dunces I can't read enough of. I also like to crack open Infinite Jest every few years, I always find something new and it makes me nostalgic for Boston in a weird way.

What about comics? I get back into Love & Rockets every few years. And I stopped consuming superhero comics years ago but every now and again I run across a collection or anthology and get lost for hours. My favorites are from my childhood, 80's X-men (the 1985 giant sized annual/New Mutants crossover story (and it's associated side-stories) especially), Keith Giffen's Justice League run, Alan Moore's Swamp Thing- actually, most of the comics in that era were pretty solid. Those are my personal favorites though.
posted by Admiral Viceroy at 6:35 AM on March 26, 2016


Steven Brust's The Phoenix Guards. I read it ever time I fly, so maybe six times a year. I know how it ends and all that, but I just love it.
posted by BobtheThief at 10:21 AM on March 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Along with the rest of Brust's Dragaera books for me.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:45 AM on March 27, 2016


Lonesome Dove, but I don't embark on that one lightly as it will be hard to do anything else but read it until I'm done and the emotions it summons are a little intense. Also The Last Picture Show and Texasville but they're less of a commitment.

Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas. In my teens it was for the over-the-top absurdity of the whole thing but nowadays it's more for the writing itself. Thompson's use of the language is just beautiful.

I read the Shining many times in October over the years. It used to scare me quite a bit (more than the movie!). It was interesting to read after having kids of my own at Danny's age and to see things as a parent. As someone else mentioned here on Metafilter, I now like to read Stephen King more for the people stuff than the scary stuff in the last act. The Stand was good too.

I read Lord of the Rings many times over the years, but I think the movies might have cured me of that habit for a while (maybe permanently) due to the over-saturation of exposure.

The Hitchhiker's Guide book one is always good when you need a laugh.

Catch-22 is fantastic, but I have to be in a cynical mood to read it.

I like to come back to Slaughterhouse Five and Breakfast of Champions every five years or so to sort of remind myself of the big scheme of things.
posted by DrumsIntheDeep at 9:58 PM on March 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


Didn't read the entire thread, but my fave is Neil Stephenson's _Cryptonomicon_. All those individual funny essays within the novel: Grandma furniture & sheer black stockings, being morphine-seeky, finding a technically good dentist with no social skills whatsoever....my love for this novel goes on forever.
posted by honey badger at 4:28 AM on March 28, 2016


I'm an inveterate re-reader and have a Permanent Library of books I like to read over and over (about 200 books). Some I read for the fun of them -- the comedy, the interesting characters, the place, the complex plots. Some I read for the challenge of them. Here's a truncated list (otherwise, we'd be here for a while).

Dorothy Sayers, for the intelligent and witty people ("I can't think why fancy religions should have such a ghastly effect upon one's syntax.")
Georgette Heyer, for the comedy that can still make me laugh out loud, and for the personality skewering in well-chosen and genteel barbs.
Peter O'Donnell, for the Modesty Blaise books & comics, which discuss ethics and violence.
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, for the thorough grounding in history in her Saint-Germain series.
Rosemary Kirstein, for the Steerswoman books that are not what they seem (she's working on book five).
Kerry Greenwood, for the Phryne Fisher 20-book series about a rich woman PI in 1920s Melbourne, and for the Corinna Chapman 6-book series about a fat baker in today's Melbourne.
Steve Perry, for the Matadora series, far-future warriors who change the worlds.
RA Heinlein, Starship Troopers, for the speculations it sets up in my head.
There are more but I'll just add on the two books I find particularly challenging:
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. I always read it with the companion by my side and I love the story.
Silverlock by John Myers Myers, a picaresque novel that reminds me I'm not nearly as well educated as I think I am (I also need the companion to this for my re-read).
posted by MovableBookLady at 6:52 AM on March 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


The Dead by Joyce should be read every year on the evening of Epiphany. It is short enough for one sitting and there is only one thing other than reading this work that you should be doing that night of the year.
posted by bdc34 at 9:05 AM on March 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's been mentioned numerous times already, but I'll note that, from my years as an English teacher, The Great Gatsby is the novel I never tired of reading aloud from*.

I read more plays than novels these days.
  • Shakespeare's obviously re-readable, though my favorite of late is As You Like It, with its multiplicity of viewpoints and strains of actual optimism.
  • Chekhov's plain surfaces of conversations about trees and horses and such hide mammoth subtext, rewarding careful rereading.
  • The Zoo Story by Edward Albee is probably the first play I ever fell in love with. It's about loneliness in a way that is delightful and accessible to adolescents.
  • The Designated Mourner by Wallace Shawn, probably because it deals with a lot of my own philosophical preoccupations (class, art) and is, formally, unlike any other play I can think of.

*Yes, I know I ended a sentence with a preposition. Suck it, prescriptivists.
posted by HeroZero at 10:27 AM on March 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Anathem by Neal Stephenson is both long and good, one of the few books I've re-read more than once. It's got complex ideas and fun characters and the narrator of the audiobook does a really really good job.
posted by JDHarper at 2:43 PM on March 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Nerd books first
Rimrunners by CJ Cherryh, at least once a year; Cyteen, every few years
Slow River (Nicola Griffith - if you haven't read her latest yet, Hild, you are cheating yourself)
various by Terry Pratchett or Lois McMaster Bujold, depending on need (I will often shamelessly skip ahead to the "good parts")
Long Dark Teatime of the Soul

Secular rereads
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (the only LeCarre that doesn't bug me on reread)
Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco (I highly recommend seeking out his essay collections, like "How to Travel with a Salmon")
Cold Comfort Farm
Three Men in a Boat
The Boat that Wouldn't Float/Dog who wouldn't be (I'm not sure if it's a flaw in me, or in "serious" Farley Mowat, but these comedies are the ones I always come back to)
Various of the James Herriott books
Kate Atkinson's mysteries (Cold Cases, etc)

Why yes, I do read reference works for fun
Unix backup and recovery (W. Curtis Preston is a comedic genius)
literally anything by John McPhee, Mary Roach, Lewis Thomas, Chuck Klosterman, Will Ferguson, Samuel Thayer, or Masanobu Fukuoka
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 10:31 AM on March 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


When I was little, my mom had gotten her hands on a set of classic books for kids. The printing was cheap, because they fell apart after some years; or maybe I was just hard on them because I loved them so much. But ever since then, I've re-read some of those books at least once every few years. I don't recall all of titles, but they included:

* Tom Sawyer
* Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking-Glass
* Robinson Crusoe
* Treasure Island
* Heidi
* Black Beauty
* Robin Hood
* Swiss Family Robinson

Re-reading the classic kid-lit of my youth takes me back and makes me young again!

I also have some short story anthologies that I re-read regularly, but usually only certain stories. The one anthology I re-read from cover to cover on a regular basis is Laughing Matters: A Celebration of American Humor. The book is guaranteed to get me laughing, and introduced me to many American humorists that I previously had known nothing about, such as S.J. Perleman, whose "No Starch in the Dhoti, S'il Vous Plait" is possibly the funniest thing I've ever read (I learned later that he co-wrote the movies Horse Feathers and Monkey Business). Other included favorites are "Dusk in Fierce Pajamas" by E.B. White, "Mr. Preble Gets Rid of His Wife" by James Thurber, and Saroyan's "Old Country Advice to the American Traveler".
posted by magstheaxe at 1:11 PM on March 30, 2016


The Book of Kells By R. A. MacAvoy. I started reading it back when it was new. I'm a voracious reader, and this is one of the very few books my husband of 20+ years can name as one of my favorites, because it reappears so often on my nightstand and kitchen table. (Disclosure... this has led to meeting the woman and, recently, writing a book with her.)

Using "Can my husband name it?" as a standard, we'd include Pride and Prejudice, The Lens of the World, The Hobbit/LOTR (although that may be from the pinball machine lurking about), Sandman (Gaiman) , and various comforting old friends from Robin McKinley: Beauty or Rose Daughter, The Blue Sword, and more recently Spindle's End. Earthsea Cycle from LeGuin. Getting ready to head back into Tad William's Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn books too.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 7:29 PM on April 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Zazie in the Metro + Sunday of Life by Raymond Queneau, and basically everything by Philip K. Dick and Terry Pratchett and Samuel R. Delany.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 4:27 AM on April 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Book Of The New Sun is for some reason the only thing I've read repeatedly. Read it 3 or 4 times so far.

Last time I read it along with Lexicon Urthus, so it's pretty much my LOTR.
posted by billjings at 8:00 AM on April 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is a great thread, so many things listed that I agree with and/or need to add to my own reading list. Thought I'd throw in a suggestion for one of my more recent faves, a book that I immediately started rereading as soon as I'd finished: Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton.

I've since read online that it's kind of a divisive book and I know memoirs aren't everyone's bag, but it's the one that has occupied the sacred space on my nightstand since it was published. If you like kitchen/chef-written books, it's at the top of the heap for me.
posted by pandalicious at 7:50 PM on April 3, 2016


Snow Crash
Red Dwarf
Blood Sucking Fiends: A Love Story
posted by [insert clever name here] at 11:33 PM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Tadeusz Borowski, This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:28 PM on April 8, 2016


just to recommend getting those books you frequently read on Audible.

Since re-reading is a source of comfort for me, hearing these favorites is glorious.

Nothing better for commute/long car journeys than another person's reading of your favorite
posted by Wilder at 2:50 AM on April 9, 2016


I recently realized how much I want to re-read Primate's Memoir, by Robert Sapolsky, again.
posted by theora55 at 4:22 AM on April 9, 2016


Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany.

Argall, William T. Vollmann.

Mother London, Michael Moorcock.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke.

the entirety of Iain M. Banks.
the entirety of Fritz Lieber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories.
the initial six books in Roger Zelazny's Amber series.
the initial three books in Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun (of these series, this one has been most reread).

Apparently, non-genre doesn't hardly rate even though I read tons of it and tons of nonfic.

/gunshow: F+5F4LYF3
posted by mwhybark at 6:36 PM on April 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Ball Four, because it's baseball, and it's often hilarious.

it gets longer in every edition! Dude's also in the Elliott Gould Philip Marlowe film from the mid seventies, name not to brainhand at the moment.
posted by mwhybark at 6:42 PM on April 13, 2016


Dave Barry's Big Trouble when I am sick (but not too sick to read) or in a funk (ditto) because it always makes me laugh. Even though I've read it 10 times or more.
posted by Bella Donna at 5:58 PM on April 14, 2016


Pratchett's Thief of Time.
When I was younger, it was Anne McCaffrey's The White Dragon, but I'm not sure how that would hold up now.
And Ursula K. Le Guin's Left Hand Of Darkness.
posted by nat at 3:11 PM on April 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


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