Some people say life is too short to finish bad books. It’s also too short to read all the books you want to, even if they were all good. It’s also too short to go back to the ones you loved and read them again. Then there are the ones you thought were bad, but maybe you didn’t give it a fair chance. This week’s topic from The Broke and the Bookish is about throwbacks and I am looking at the books I would most want to reread. There are only a handful of books I have read more than once and the list of those I would like to revisit gets longer all the time. Not all of them are ones I loved though.
1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
Probably my favourite book, but I’ve only read it once when I was 18. It’s the sort of book that, because of its unique form, you can pull off the shelf, turn to a page at random, begin reading, and immediately be transported back to that world without any preamble. It is also, more than any other book I know of, one that is most divisive – there seem to be plenty of people who love it and plenty of people who couldn’t stand it and very few people in between.
2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847)
3. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (1981)
4. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1873)
5. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maira Remarque (1929)
6. Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell (1949)
Like Catch-22 these are all among my favourite books and ones I would like to experience the joy of reading again. The most difficult part of compiling this list was trying to cull it back to just ten as there are many other books I loved that I want to read again but I wanted to also consider those I want to read again even though I did not love them.
7. India: A History by John Keay (1999)
A one-volume general history of India sounds like an impossible task but Keay wrote one that was critically acclaimed. I have read it, with difficulty as I did not find it very engaging, and I do not remember it well. Which is a shame since the subject is important to me, so I wish I could give it another crack.
8. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1880)
I loved Crime and Punishment, but I cannot say the same for The Brothers Karamazov. But then, Dostoyevsky’s work is written to be read again and I only came to love Crime and Punishment on the second reading, so I think I want to read this again.
9. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1867)
Similarly, as much as I loved Anna Karenina, I liked War and Peace but didn’t love it. But I would be keen to give it another chance.
10. The Ancestor’s Tale by Richard Dawkins (2004)
I wanted to include a non-fiction book here and this is one of my favourites. One that I would even recommend to people who do not normally read books on scientific topics. It has also come out in a updated 2017 edition with a co-author; Yan Wong.
I’d love to hear about any books you would like to read again – especially the ones you did not necessarily like the first time around…