Ten Books I Would Love to Reread

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…

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16 thoughts on “Ten Books I Would Love to Reread

  1. I think it’s quite a big ask to reread books – especially those that you have loved first time round. But having said that, I am going through a process of doing just that having set myself the task of reading every book shortlisted for both the Miles Franklin Award and Man Booker Prize. Wanting to compare like with like means I cannot rely on having read something 40 years ago. I want/need to compare something I read for the first time with something I have read before with a similar take/experience etc. Memories can come crashing down as a result.

    I remember loving The Bone People by Keri Hulme when I was 19 or so. Not now. Ditto Salman Rushdie’s Midnight Children (not helped by my personal opinion of him). Rohinton Mistry and Kazuo Ishiguro on the other hand stand the test of time as does Ian McEwan and Margaret Atwood. My self imposed exile re the shortlisted books means I cannot deviate at the moment outside those lists – but all of Marquez and early Allende books beckon on my bookshelf to reread as does Murakami (plus a whole plethora of American authors). Three authors that I want to read again desperately but will have to wait. But then that same self imposed exile has introduced me to authors I was totally unfamiliar with and very glad to have done so! (Tanya Yanagihara, Achmat Dangor, Hisham Matar, Barry Unsworth included).

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    • You’ve picked a very ambitious project Keith. I’ve been reading just the Booker winners since the prize began and have found it’s taken me a long longer than expected so the thought of doing all the shortlisted contenders has me panicky. Good luck though

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    • As has been said, it’s certainly an ambitious project of yours. I have a great deal of admiration for what you’re doing but I don’t think I could do it. There are too many shortlisters that I don’t think I’d enjoy. I guess we all try to be happy in our reading, which is where the impulse to reread comes from. I think the reason I don’t do too much rereading is because, like you, I’d rather be exposed to new things. Despite what I said earlier about shortlisters, I probably read more of them than I would otherwise by pushing myself to try something different. Kudos to you if you can keep up your project and enjoy it too, though you do call it an ‘exile’ a lot!

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  2. Great list! There are a lot of classics I’d like to reread soon, but then there are also tons of classics I haven’t yet read on my TBR list. In an ideal world, I’d like to reread: Jane Eyre, Mansfield Park, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Dracula, and Frankenstein this autumn. However, I highly doubt I’ll reread any of these-the guilt is just too strong!

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  3. Oh for the luxury of being able to re-read – but I still have almost 300 books that I own but have never read once. It’s usually the classics that I like to re-read, they seem to be the ones that have the greatest ability to offer something new on a second or even third read. Contemporary fiction just doesn’t do it somehow – or at least most of it doesnt. Jane Eyre I’ve read about five times but I am overdue a re-read of Anna Karenina

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    • You are right about the classics. Contemporary lit just does not have the depth to give you anything new on rereading. If I were to put this list in order of which I am most desperate to read again, Jane Eyre would be at the top. I’ve only read it once, and that was a text-only version. I need to get an annotated Penguin or Oxford classics version. I’m sure that will only make me love it more.

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      • Both those editions would be wonderful, Can I also recommend you read an essay by David Lodge called Fire and Eyre: Charlotte Brontë’s War of Earthly Elements which looks at the symbolism of fire and ice in the novel. If you can’t get that, take a look at the Victorian Web site for an article on those themes. it gives you a different perspective on the novel

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  4. I used to do a lot of rereading but that has changed since I started my blog. I think because blogging has led to such a huge increase in my TBR, it makes it harder to justify spending time on books I’ve already read. Having said that, I’m currently rereading one of my favourites (The Count of Monte Cristo) and enjoying the experience. 🙂

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      • Yes, definitely! There are a lot of books that I’ve picked up after reading other bloggers’ reviews that I would probably have never thought about reading otherwise.

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      • That makes sense. I thought for a moment that you meant you were reading books you wouldn’t have otherwise because it helped your blog. But you are right, I’ve learned about so many books from other bloggers that I had not heard of, and should have heard of, that I now just have to read.

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  5. I rarely re-read books (So many books! So little time!), but the few I have re-read were The Heart of Darkness and The Return of the Native. However, I do plan to re-read some of the novels I have loved during my life (and be buried with a few I adore). I also love Jane Eyre and War and Peace.

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