return to

I have old faithfuls, books I return to, books I read the way a baby sucks a pacifier. One of my pacifiers is almost any regency by Georgette Heyer. I have paperbacks of hers so old that the pages have to be rubber-banded in a heap. I love her plucky heroines, the sometimes truly witty banter between characters, the very sweet romances. There is a lot of subtle humor in character interactions, which amuses me even more each time I read it. I also reread John le Carre’s Little Drummer Girl about once a year. I love the heroine he’s created in this book, the way he describes and builds character, and the truly gripping plot. He is a master of plotting and character. I reread To Kill a Mockingbird pretty often; the underlying tenderness of the story takes me, though I find the African American characters a bit stereotyped, but what do I know. Maybe for 1930s Southern America, they are not stereotyped at all. It’s just that they’re shaded all one tone, and the others aren’t. I love Winston Graham’s Poldark Saga, the first six books. He’s a fine, fine historical novelist, and Ross Poldark has my heart, as does Demelza. I adore Dr. Naomi Ramen‘s Kitchen Table Wisdom. Again, the scope of heart in her collections of stories about people gravely ill and those who serve them is huge. It’s a wise book, too, nuggets about leading a deeper life scattered like bread crumbs. I love Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek, though having read it so many times, I now see plot flaws, but I just never mind them because I like the character of Dona and her story so much, and the marvelous dreamy quality of du Maurier’s prose. Anything I like ( I’m almost always reading), I now put up on my shelf in Goodreads. But the ones listed here are my tried and true go-back- tos for a needed mental rest. My husband doesn’t understand it, and I can’t explain it, except that they never fail to comfort me, I never fail to not like them, I never fail to be amused again or touched again…..and that’s special…….

It occurs to me that I learn a little more about writing each time I read these favorites; I learn on a level I’m not aware of…..

Do you reread? What? And why? Or why not?

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12 responses to “return to

  1. My husband loved to reread his favorite books also, the entire Cadfel series, Harry Potter and Lord of the Ring, etc. He would read over the same passage many times when something really spoke to him. I tend to be a fast reader. When we would discuss books he knew so much more than me.
    Enjoyed getting your reading list and will try some.
    Happy Thanksgiving.

  2. Jane Austen. Especially ‘Persuasion.’ ‘The Blue Bedroom’ by Rosamunde Pilcher. ‘Devils Cub’ by Georgette Heyer. Dickens & Robert Louis Stevenson. I love all these comfort reads…

  3. ‘Narcissus and Goldmund’ by Hermann Hesse. A beautiful story with so many deep messages that speak to me over and over. Think I’ll go find it and read it again – for the 100th time, I’m sure.

  4. marlene mesilla (brandt)

    what a lovely attitude you have. you are a genuilly nice person. you write v ery generously of other witers and thats very kind of you. i like daphne du marier very much and i have read rebecca about 40 times because the book has become a good friend to me..your book through a glass darkly is my favorite, however. i read it while going through a tough time in my life and it helped me immensely..are you writing anything now.marlenemesilla

  5. This one had me stumped because although I used to reread books, I no longer do and I don’t know why. So here again you have me thinking. When I used to reread, Jane Eyre, James Herriott books, Sherlock Holmes , Modoc, the World’s Greatest Elephant (Ralph Helfer)
    and Persian Boy (Mary Renault) were some of my goto books. What I do instead of reread books is read other books by the same author or if the book is about a real person I find other books about them. Why the change? I don’t know.

  6. I read Jane Austen for comfort, and P.G. Wodehouse when I need to remember how much fun it can be to string words together on a page (or I suppose in my case, on a screen). I cut my historical fiction reading teeth on Georgette Heyer in my tweens, but haven’t looked back at her since. After reading your post, I can see that I need to. Lately, I’ve been rereading tales from Beatrix Potter, Thornton W. Burgess, and the other classic writers who shaped my childhood in the company of my four-year-old daughter who is encountering them for the first time. I hope to be doing a lot of rereading with her as the years go by.

  7. For me, books by Dorothy Dunnett and Ursula Le Guin stand up to repeated readings and to the passage of time. Different as the two authors are, they have in common rich and unhurried world-building, and I can lose myself in their books over and over.

  8. What do I read, or what do I re-read? Mary Renault’s books – The King Must Die, The Persian Boy, all written so beautifully. The Far Pavilions is another one I go back too, and Mists of Avalon, along with Lonesome Dove. I’ll read Philippa Gregory (but I wish she’s stop with the headless women on the covers), and I love Dennis Lehane’s The Given Day. I just finished Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue and I liked it even if I couldn’t decide if the main character was a sympathetic one or not.

  9. Well, clearly I didn’t follow directions very well, did I? I started out meaning to address the “why do I reread” question and left it behind. For me, rereading a book is like watching a favorite movie – I love the story and I love how I feel included as it develops, it’s comforting and relaxing – a different feeling from discovering a new story and not knowing what to expect when you turn the page. I’d have to say that it’s as satisfying, but in a different way. I love finding a book that I know I’ll revisit at some point, and I love finding an author that I know is going to deliver again, excruciating as the wait is!

  10. I used to re-read all of my books – mostly because I read so quickly that I don’t retain much at all, and if I wait a little while, I can enjoy the story thoroughly again. I haven’t been re-reading as much lately, probably because thanks to my Kindle there are so many new books I have access to. I have been going back more often to the authors I loved when I was a kid – Madeleine L’Engle and Diana Wynne Jones. But part of that re-reading has also included discovering books that they wrote that my childhood library didn’t have.

  11. Rereading favorite books is like visiting old friends. I read Pride and Prejudice at least once a year. I also reread your books, especially Dark Angels. Last week I read alkseven Harry Potter books, and now Iam reread
    ing Patrick OBrian’s Aubrey-Maturin books

  12. Carmen Morales-Board

    Yes. Every Summer I read Deep Summer by Gwen Bristow. I used to check it out at the library each year. Last year I finally got my own copy – an old library book found on line….
    I find as I get older, I like my little “traditions”.
    Karleen, I’ve just discovered your books. I think I will be adding a yearly reread of one of your books, as a “tradition”. Other re-reads: Jeanette Walls’- The Glass Castle each Spring since around 2007 – I like it because its a quick read and reassures me that all families are a little strange, some more than others; Gone With the Wind, of course (who hasn’t?!) – Usually every two or three years.
    CMB
    Bakersfield, CA

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