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?



Author: SGJ