Books I’ve Read Over and Over

Just finished rereading my favorite book of 2016, Grady Hendrix’s My Best Friend’s Exorcism, and I realized I’m kind of getting a shelf together, of books I come back to again and again. Books I can’t stay away from. Books that just hold more and more magic for me, each time through. I’ve heard that’s one definition of ‘literary’: a text that will keep unfolding and unfolding, the longer you look into it. I’d also add that, a really good novel, it can’t be spoiled, because its quality isn’t completely dependent upon its secret, its big reveal, on whodunnit. Corny as it sounds, it’s the journey, not the destination, yeah? Here’s my stack of books I’ve been journeying through for years, and will be journeying through for many more. I’ll put them in some semblance of order, starting at the top with stuff I used to read over and over, ending, I guess, with what I just reread, and trying not to include stuff I only reread because I was teaching it. Not that I haven’t taught a lot of these. But that was just an excuse to read them again.

And, before getting into the big list, let me first put two here that I lived inside, as a kid. Seriously. The Reader’s Digest one, I’ve only found two other people who share my obsession with it (I probably shouldn’t name them), and the other . . . I don’t know. Reading it is like singing along with Neil Diamond’s “Coming to America,” to me: I feel so, so guilty, liking it. But I do:

  

And then, well, then there’s all these:

Too—everybody’s got a stack like this, don’t they? Everybody’s got their own personal canon. Were I to get together a list of books I wish I’d written, this would be pretty much be it (well, except for Lonesome Dove and Speaker for the Dead, neither of which I’ve gotten around to for their second times yet. I have reread It, and loved it all over again, but I doubt I can steal enough hours to get through it a third time).

Also, as I think of them, I’ll probably be sneaking other titles into this. And, as I reread other titles, too.

What books do you reread over and over, trying to milk every last drop of magic from them?

 

 

Share
  • JesseLawrence

    Oh, man, there’re so many. And there are some that have slipped by. Used to be, for a spell, I’d read LANARK once a year, but that one’s since turned into how IT is for you. And there was also A SCANNER DARKLY, but last time I was reading it, I put it down for a different book. When I got back to it, I was worried that maybe I somehow managed to lose the magic in that one, and I’ve not read it since. Maybe I took it for granted, but think I can find that magic again someday, somewhere down the road. THE GIRL NEXT DOOR is a curious one, as it’s an incredible book, and I love it, but I don’t really seem to intend to pick it up each time I do, but then, by the time I realize, I’m going through it in such a fashion I don’t think I could even stop. A little bit, too, it’s sometimes authors instead of specific books, or, say, series. Chelsea Cain’s HEART SICK would be on my list, but then I soar through the entire series. And on the graphic end, if I even look at the cover of FROM HELL I’m probably disappearing for a day or two.

    • Stephen Graham Jones

      I need to reread those HEARTSICK books. so good. and, GIRL: think I’ve been through it eleven times now? maybe I’m done? we’ll see,

      • JesseLawrence

        Somehow forgot to mention one of the most reread titles: SCREAM, which I count in every book list, because it was published in book form. That’s legit, yeah? I can’t even count how many times I’ve read that one.

        • Stephen Graham Jones

          oh, that should be on my list as well. I’ve also lost count of how many times I’ve read that one. I usually end up reading my printed-out, brad’d one, too, though I’ve got that book. it’s just so, so, so good.

          • JesseLawrence

            oh, cool. you’ve got a proper script. I think I’ve got a PDF on a flash drive somewhere, but it’s the same draft as the book. is yours the same, too?

          • Stephen Graham Jones

            no memory where it’s from, through. likely some PDF floating around the internet. and, yeah, the same, near as I’ve been able to tell.

  • saber86

    As mentioned, there are several for me as well. I think the record for most re-read book for me is CJ Cherryh’s Forty Thousand in Gehenna (SF). She’s been my favorite writer for decades. Also of hers, the Faded Sun trilogy and Downbelow Station are close to 40KiG in re-read count. When I’m feeling too complacent about the world and people, I return to When Rabbit Howls by the Troops for Truddi Chase. King’s Danse Macabre was on heavy rotation a decade or so back. Octavia Butler is my current re-read (am in Seed to Harvest right now); I miss discovering new writing from her so much.

    • Stephen Graham Jones

      I also miss new stuff from Butler. but maybe there’s another Butler out there right now, cooking up perfect worlds.

      • saber86

        We can only hope, alas. But if you find her, let me know. :-)

  • Andrea Rogers-Henry

    I was a latch-key kid growing up in Tulsa with Larry Clark’s photo subjects across the street and Nana across the alley. She, S. E. Hinton, and (Reader’s Digest) particularly Amazing Stories and Strange Facts made me who I am today. Since, apparently, I am not a lost Russian Countess or a survivor of the Mary Celeste.

    • Stephen Graham Jones

      wonder how many of us owe who we are to Strange Stories and Amazing Facts.