Monday, July 27, 2015

Top Ten Books to Reread

Currently Writing:  Merlin Book 2
Currently Reading: Dune by Frank Herbert
                                The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (reread)
                                The Woodcutter by Kate Danley (Kindle)

I've been wanting to do another Top 10 post since the first one. I can't do a Top 10 Books general post because there are just too many I love, so I decided that Top 10 rereads was the best way to go. So here, in no particular order, are my Top 10 Books to Reread:

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

I'm counting this whole series as one book, not only because I have an omnibus edition, but because I love to read all of them again and again. All told, I've probably read the whole series five or six times, and individual books anywhere from that number to ten or so. I never come out of reading these books without something new occurring to me. I never get tired of reading Aslan's words to the various protagonists and living through their adventures in between those special meetings with the Great Lion.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

This book is similar to Narnia for me, in that I can always get more out of it when I reread. I've only read it through a handful of times, but I always want to dive in again. I'm rereading The Silmarillion now for the first time, and it's whetting my appetite for Tolkien's mythology.

The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper

Okay, it's another series. This time, I don't own an omnibus edition, but I dare you to read one of these books and not keep going. Once you meet Great Uncle Merry, you're going to keep reading just for him. Cooper blends together the modern (well, for its day) intrigue with the Celtic myths so well in these slim books. I come back to them because, hey, who doesn't like a little Arthuriana before bedtime?

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

I haven't actually read this one in a while, but I reread it consistently for three or four years when I was younger, and I have continued with the series off and on since then, even rereading one of the sequels, The Scarecrow of Oz, multiple times. I actually think Scarecrow might be more of a reread favorite than Wizard, but Wizard is a classic and the more recognized title, so I listed it.

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

This is another one that I reread several years in a row when I was younger. If you've never read any of Roald Dahl's books, then this one is a good place to start. It demonstrates his talent for mixing the magical and the mundane into a superb, fun children's story that entertains and educates.

The Attolia/Queen's Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner

You should have expected another series, really. This quartet (which fans hope will eventually become a quintet and then a sextet) is centered on a sort of alternative historical version of Greece and the surrounding countries and on a man named Eugenides, who find himself tangled up in the political machinations of the rulers of no less than four countries as the series progresses. The first three books are better than the fourth, but they are all worth at least one read; I'd say the first few are worth the rereading.

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

This series is another that gets better with every reading because, despite its flaws, you can't help but appreciate J.K. Rowling's talent for lacing elements into the early books that seem unimportant but wind up being the basis of major arcs in the end. She also has a talent for dealing with important social issues like prejudice without making the stories seem preachy. Add in some fun magic and lovable characters, and you've got a recipe for rereadable books.

'Salem's Lot by Stephen King

Other than Dracula, this is the only vampire book I've read multiple times. I prefer King's book only for its ability to make me do a double take halfway through the book. Maybe it's just the wear of the ages, but you can't go into Dracula and not get vampire vibes from the first few chapters. 'Salem's Lot, by contrast, opens like a haunted house story. Even when I reread this book, the first long section doesn't even begin to whisper, "Vampire"; instead, it seems to shout, "I'm the precursor to Rose Red!" King definitely takes his cues from Shirley Jackson in this book, and that's a good thing.

The Giver/Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

I'm not listing the whole series here for two reasons: 1) the first two books stand up better under rereading; 2) Messenger and Son, for all Lowry's attempts to continue the story and bring the first two books together, just aren't as good even on initial reading. If you've not read The Giver (or at least seen the recent film, which was a very good adaptation), then you're likely in for a treat. That is, if you keep in mind that the plethora of dystopian fiction in the young adult section largely follows The Giver, which itself has its roots in older literature like 1984. That being said, The Giver is still a solid book that explores an awful lot of emotion and philosophy in a very brief span of time. Gathering Blue, likewise, covers a lot of ground in its thought processes, but Lowry takes a very different tack in this book. The disparity between the two settings may be part of the source of the failure of the later books, but I think that can be better chalked up to Messenger's rushed ending and Son's useless middle section.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Every few years, I have to pick this mystery off the shelf and go through the fun of seeing the madcap cast of characters unravel the riddles old Sam Westing has laid out for them. It's not like the story changes between readings, but these characters -- good, bad, and oh so colorful -- are like old friends or distant relatives that you need a dose of every once in a while. Then, you've had your fix and you're good until the next coincidental meeting or family reunion. If you haven't read it, don't read any spoilers. The first time especially, it's fun to try solving the mystery yourself.

Are there any books you just can't stop rereading? Are there some you haven't read more than once but would like to read again? Let me know in the comments!

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