What Books Do You Love to Reread?
I love to read; I always have. As a kid, I’d head to the public library every three weeks on a Saturday afternoon like clockwork with my family. We had a giant, blue canvas library bag that came with us and was always jam-packed with books.
This was back when every library book had a card in the front recording when it was checked out. (I know some of you have no idea what this means, but the rest of you remember.) When we brought books home, my dad diligently removed every card from every book, secured the cards with a rubber band, and placed them on his dresser. When it was time for our trip to the library, he’d pull out the cards and place them back in each book, thus ensuring every book was accounted for and returned on time.
My choices occupied a significant amount of space in the library bag. Fourteen or fifteen was my average, and they were largely mysteries. Nancy Drew was my hands-down favorite, and I read them many times. My favorite title was The Mystery at Lilac Inn. I can’t explain why, out of dozens of Nancy Drew books, this was the one I returned to repeatedly, but I did.
I’m not a big rereader. There are too many books out there to discover. But a handful of books are like comfort foods for me. I can read them again and again and still feel satisfied. Reading a book again provides a different experience than the first read. The first read was full of anticipation and questions, but repeated reads let me enjoy the experience and the words. Since I’m not worried about what will happen, I can relish the journey.
Here’s a list of books I love to reread. It’s a random selection. There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason why a book deserves a second look for me. I also make no claim that these are books you’ll love to reread. Your comfort book list will look different from mine.
I do, however, love these books and hope you find something you enjoy reading here. Rather than providing a synopsis of each, I will share why I love it, and what brings me back.
Scarlett: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind
Alexandra Ripley, 1991
This is the story of what happened to Scarlett O’Hara after Melanie died and Rhett left. When I pick up this book, I’ll have a good time. It’s fluff from beginning to end. I love watching Scarlett stay true to who she is while evolving into a better version of herself. The Scarlett of Gone with the Wind always puts on airs as she fights to defend herself and her family. Scarlett, in this book, finally gets the chance to figure out who she is, what she wants, and what brings her joy.
Mary Stewart, 1963
I love this book! It’s a page-turning mystery set on the island of Crete. There’s a curious young woman, an injured, handsome, enigmatic Englishman, and several menacing Greeks to keep things interesting. Yes, the story is good, and it’s a mystery (one of my favorite genres), but what I love about this book is Mary Stewart’s writing. She’s brilliant. There’s nothing foamy about her writing; her words and sentences are rich and satisfying. This book has great writing and a good story – an ideal combination.
Code Name Verity
Elizabeth Wein, 2012
I have never read a book like this before. (And I’ve read a lot of books.) I still don’t know how the author managed to do what she did in this exceptional book. And honestly, there’s not much I can say about it without risking spoilers, but it’s about a friendship set during WWII. The first time I read it, I could not put it down. I cried. I gasped. I wondered. I didn’t want it to be over, so I read it again. The second time through was a totally different experience. As I fully appreciated the genius of Ms. Wein’s storytelling techniques, I was even more amazed. Just read it. And then tell me so we can talk about it.
A Gentleman in Moscow
Amor Towles, 2016
This is another book that features brilliant writing and prodigious storytelling, but it also has a main character I love. Count Rostov truly is a gentleman in Moscow who has become one of my favorite characters in literature ever. I’ve read this book several times, and it gets better every time. It makes me contemplate the constraints in my life and how I adapt to them.
Far from the Madding Crowd
Thomas Hardy, 1874
This novel by Thomas Hardy tops my list of classic romances. It’s the book that redeemed Hardy for me after suffering through Return of the Native in AP Humanities. (Why, oh why, didn’t they assign Madding Crowd instead? There would have been far less crying.) Bathsheba Everdeen and Gabriel Oak are romantic for the ages, and I always enjoy a good love story. But, in addition to luminous writing and an engaging story, this book is very funny. Some subtle humor in here tickles my funny bone and makes this an endlessly enjoyable book.
A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens, 1859
I read this book for the first time as a sophomore in high school. I’m not sure my 15-year-old self could fully appreciate this book at that time, but I’ve since read it several more times and find I love it every time.
Dickens is a classic author for a reason – he knows what he’s doing – and his skills with words and character development are fully displayed in Two Cities. Madame DeFarge and Sydney Carton are unforgettable, as is the history of the Reign of Terror. While I love Dickens, many of his novels are very long. However, A Tale of Two Cities is an accessible way for me to enjoy the talents of a favorite author.
Anne of Green Gables
L.M. Montgomery, 1908
I can dip my toe into this book anytime and know I’ll feel good. I start reading and immediately remember why I love it so much. It’s also a source of my favorite memories of reading to my son and daughter when they were young. I tried to choose various books to share with them. Some they liked more than others. One evening, after reading, my young son remarked the book would be better if “someone got hit by a harpoon.”
The thought of my energetic son wishing for more…action…makes me laugh every time. But I think this book is perfect, even without a harpoon.
Victor Hugo, 1862
I just finished saying that Dickens’ lengthy novels are too much for my everyday life to handle. Still, I often have time for Les Misérables, so I don’t know how to make sense of that contradiction. This book is just beautiful.
Memory plays a role in my affection for this book, as reading it reminds me of the summer in college I carpooled to work every day with my father. Our Silicon Valley rush hour commute was daunting, and we read a book to pass the time (before cell phones and Audible). I read Les Mis—unabridged—aloud to my father that summer in the car and loved every minute of it.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee, 1960
Has there ever been a better narrator than Scout? Her voice is one of my favorites in literature. Telling the serious, tragic story of racism, rape, violence, and injustice in the voice of a fearless 10-year-old girl gives this book genuine warmth and humor. When I read this book, I’m reminded that life goes on and is filled with good and beautiful things, even amidst sorrow and struggle..
Harry Potter Series
J.K. Rowling, 1997 – 2007
I’m a Potterhead, through and through. I love all of it. I distinctly remember wandering through a bookstore in the early 2000s and stumbling upon a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. My husband was happily reading through the most current woodworking and automotive magazines, so I settled into a comfy chair to see what all the fuss was about. I was highly skeptical, as I am about most trends and fads, but it didn’t take long for me to realize the buzz about Harry Potter was well-deserved. I quickly read all the books that had been published so far and then anxiously anticipated each new release.
I’m Hermione to the core and love that one of the heroes is a smart, bossy – yep, I said it, loyal young woman, who might love to read even more than I do. These books are just plain fun. This is another read-aloud for me. I read every word of every book to my children and enjoyed watching them discover the magic of Harry Potter.
What Books Do You Like to Reread?
There are lots of reasons to reread a book. What are the books you pick up again and again, and why? Mine seems to be the memories attached to the book and of course, the writing style, voice, and loveable characters within the book.
Whatever your reasons – the good news is you can pick up all your favorites (and maybe some of mine) at Discover Books, so you can enjoy them anytime. With prices as low as $3.85, you can stock your shelves with “comfort books” today.