Friday Fluff: Books that get better and better

So for various grad schooly purposes, I’m reading Heart of Darkness for the, oh, seventh time (and teaching it for the first time). The first time I read this book, way back in high school, I totally hated it. Every time since then, I hate it a little bit less, and now I’m at the point where, though I can’t say I enjoy it, I genuinely appreciate it. It’ll never be one of my favorites, but damn if it doesn’t get better and better.

My favorite books are like that too, of course; basically anything by Italo Calvino (but especially Invisible Cities and If on a winter’s night a traveler) gets even more mind-blowing and beautiful each time.

So that’s your Friday Fluff question, Shapelings: what book just keeps getting better and better? Did it start bad? Did it start awesome and then just get awesomer? Give us your recommendations!

103 thoughts on “Friday Fluff: Books that get better and better

  1. A book that I loved the moment I picked it up that seems to get better would be Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George. I’ve only gotten through it twice — it’s quite long — but I just *love* George’s Cleopatra. I’ve read two other of George’s historical novels, and this is by far my favorite, though that could be because of the actual confirmed events in Cleopatra’s life that George had to work with (as opposed to, say Mary of Scots’s life, which was just really, really sad for the last couple of decades).

    A book I hated when I was forced to read it in high school that I love now is Pride and Prejudice. I think it’s gottena lot wittier for me now, because I spent four years reading literature of similar time periods when I was in college, and I understand the language a lot better now and I can see beyond the love story to the other social issues Austen was dealing with. The elegent bluntness of Austen’s writing just astounds me.

    Okay, the English nerd is going back to lurking. :o)

  2. Jane Eyre and everything by Austen is a lot better with a little living and some feminist theory under my belt. Oddly enough, I like the Holmes stories better now as well – no idea why.

    One book that got remarkably, incredibly worse after age 14 was Gone With the Wind. Eeeggah!

  3. I don’t get to read fiction much anymore since grad school started back up, but over the summer I read The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. At first I didn’t like it – it’s very convoluted, skips around a lot, and the time travel aspect of it doesn’t make much sense. But as I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. The time travel still doesn’t make sense by book’s end, but the love story all but makes up for it.

    And, I have to admit, I can read and reread the Harry Potter books and never get tired of them.

  4. Right now I’m re-reading White Oleander which I have loved since I read it back in 2001 when I was a Freshman in College.

    I think in my case what makes it so much better is the life experience I’ve gained in the past 6 years that gives me a new perspective on some things. Particularly the themes of love and seduction that run through.

    Sniper, I agree about Gone With The Wind… I thought it was SOOOOOO romantic at age 13, but by 21… ugh what a racist sexist boring wad of paper. (sorry to any GWTW fans)

  5. Second Harry Potter, and for me also the Anne of Green Gables books.

    There really aren’t that many books that I have read over and over, but I have read The Secret History by Donna Tartt several times and I’m sure I will again. I love it.

  6. For me, it has to be Alice in Wonderland, which I hated as a child, or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which I read at least once a year every year and it just keeps getting better. Oh and Catch 22 is also a book that gets better with age… my age, that is.

  7. I Watership Down by Richard Adams. Becomes more and more meaningful to me every time I read it. Also, Harry Potter. Also, not Gone With The Wind. :)

  8. Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I discovered this book about 10 years ago and I’ve read it 3 times now. It was awesome the first time around, but every time I read it I find some new insight or idea in it that speaks to my life at that stage.

    Rachel – I LOVED the Time Traveler’s Wife. You’re right, it was hard to follow at first, but oh…the love story…one of the best I’ve read! Now I need to go back and read it again, it’s been a few years…

    I think I’m one of the few people who just can’t seem to get into Harry Potter. I’ve tried – my whole family loves the books, drags me to see every movie, and have even tried to get me to listen to the books on tape on trips. It just doesn’t do anything for me…

  9. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. I though it was eye-rollingly pretentious and annoying in the beginning, but I totally got sucked into the story. Couldn’t put the thing down. Great ending. As for re-read books–I don’t really re-read. I should now that I’m out of the publishing biz. It’s the hazard of working in publishing for so long–there’s so little time to read what you like that you can’t really double up, not to mention that when reading’s a job it becomes a little less fun. You feel me on this one Kate?

  10. Y’know, if I could actually USE Teh Internets I’d be dangerous. I put the word “heart” in the little pokey bracket thingies between “I” and “Watership.” Evidently this banishes the word to some strange Internets Netherworld. Oh, if only we could put everything Walter Willett says into said brackets…

  11. time travellers wiife, time travellers wiiiife!

    also, im a big fan of The visitor, by sheri S. Tepper, and also Singer From The Sea, also by Tepper.

    Then i looooove me some Beauty and also Sunshine, both by Robin Mckinley.

    all of those books i have read about 3 times. Theyre comfort books, ones you pick up when theres nothing new to read, but you KNOW you’re gonna enjoy these ones again, and each time you ruminate about a new aspect of the characters and plot. great for lazy winter holidays :P

  12. It’s the hazard of working in publishing for so long–there’s so little time to read what you like that you can’t really double up, not to mention that when reading’s a job it becomes a little less fun. You feel me on this one Kate?

    Oh, hell yes. That’s a big part of why I got out of publishing.

    First book that comes to mind in this category is Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, which I’ve actually only read once, but I’ve read some part of the first 100 pages about 5 times. It wasn’t until a friend insisted I force myself through those first hundred pages that I actually finished it — and oh my god, it was worth it.

    That’s usually how it goes for me — I’m not much of a re-reader (though I was as a kid/teenager), but there are lots of books I’ve put down because I didn’t think I’d ever get into them, then picked up again and loved.

    I also reread Ordinary People, a book I read about a dozen times as a teenager, a couple years ago. Still good.

    And I must admit I’ve read all of the Harry Potters except the last one at least twice.

    Now I want to read The Time Traveler’s Wife again.

  13. Augusten Burroughs’s Possible Side Effects. I wasn’t a huge fan of his last book, Magical Thinking (it just didn’t have the *snap* of Running With Scissors or Dry), which was why I picked up PSE with some trepidation. To my shock, it was AMAZINGLY funny. I’ve reread it about four times since I bought it, because most of the stories in it are among his best work.

  14. Disgrace. I still hate it, but after doing it in Postcolonial, I hate it with a lot more respect.

    Ditto Neuromancer. This book is like my last relationship. There’s almost nothing to recommend it, but I can’t stop focusing on it. I wrote my thesis on it. I hated it the first time I read it and I still don’t like it, but every time I read it there’s more there that fascinates me.

    As far as books I like, well, as soon as I finished The Time Traveler’s Wife I started it again. I don’t know if it was better the second time — could it be? — but it felt right to start reading it again with the knowledge of how it turns out, given the way it’s set up.

  15. I am a huge re-reader…in fact I plan to get Emma out at the library tomorrow because it’s been over a year since I read it and I’m feeling itchy for some Mr. E.

    Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Leguin, as well as her story collection The Birthday Of The World are old loves to which I return over and over. I’m quite partial to The Cloud Atlas as well, for reasons I don’t totally understand. And I have re-read most of Margaret Atwood’s novels (with the notable exception of Surfacing) more times than I care to recount, especially Cat’s Eye. That last one is interesting to me not only for the forties’ nostalgia, but now for the 80′s nostalgia–kind of like when you see Back To The Future now you don’t think about how great the fifties were, but about the New Coke cans and lack of cell phones and the extraordinary high-waistedness of Marty McFly’s jeans.

    I used to read the Lord Of The Rings trilogy every year (especially when the movies were coming out) but now, man, you couldn’t pay me. I will have no more truck with elves if I can help it.

    I was supposed to be doing chores and being productive today, but no longer–I am going to curl up on the bed with a stack of books instead!

  16. My two favorites that I’ve re-read numerous times and plan to read again: Les Miserables and Vanity Fair. I just love these two books for the elegance of their writing, their wit and moral themes. They each, in their own way, make me want to be a better person (in a good — not a self-hating — way).

  17. Oh, and, from pop culture, I just completely adore The Goldcoast by Nelson de Mille. I love all his books, but this one in particular.

  18. Absolutely love “The Time Traveler’s Wife.” I also found it hard to get into and then it just gets better and better.

    I recommend “Carter Beats the Devil” every chance I get. It starts good (a little bit slow, but good) and builds and builds and it is just an amazing piece of reading.

    One that really surprised me? “Fail-Safe.” I read it without having seen the movies or knowing the story at all. It’s pretty slow throughout – lots of character studies of each character, portraits of their home life, etc. And then near the end it starts to get better until you can’t put it down, and the ending is shocking and amazing. I felt the same way about “Catch-22.” Must be something about me and war books? (And speaking of war books, if you haven’t read Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” run now and go get it. Incredible writing – short stories about Vietnam. Based on fact, but he plays with the idea of where fact ends and fiction starts. Wow.)

    I’ll stop now. :)

  19. My favorite-The English Patient. I couldn’t stand the movie, but I could read the book over and over ’cause I love, love, love the way Michael Ondaatje uses language. I completely get lost in his words.

  20. I definitely don’t want to start a war, but boy oh boy did I not love the Time Traveler’s Wife. It was meh. [Spoiler alert!] I was not in love with the characters at all – in fact I started to seriously dislike Henry toward the end. I never understood the fondness for the “love story” which was stilted and not passionate as I had heard so many gush. I figured it for tragedy making the mundane more excitable. They’re torn apart at the end – oh no!

    I read Pride & Prejudice at least once a year. I had a really hard time with it when I first read it – the injustice of being a woman at that time. It irked me. I couldn’t get past my anger. Now I love it for the language, for Mr. Bennet, and because like every other woman I know because I envision myself as Lizzie.

  21. Okay, here’s some other books I can read and reread over and over again… The time travel series by Jack Finney, as well aas Richard Matheson’s Somewhere in Time (originally Bid Time Return). Sense a pattern here? My husband and I even got married this summer on Mackinac Island, which is the setting for the film version of Somewhere in Time.

    Also, Geek Love by, oh, I forget her name. And I love most anything by Joyce Carol Oates.

    And my absolute favorite… Harriet the Spy! I loved it as a kid, and I love it as an adult. When I was a kid, I tried to carry around a notebook in emulation of Harriet; now I’m a reporter and get paid to write about the lives of others.

  22. I just finished reading The Time Traveler’s Wife for the second time, and oh my god, I cried even more than the first time. I can’t bring myself to start another book now.

    Before that, I kept reading The Invention of Solitude by Paul Auster over and over.

    Also, I kept reading Speak Memory by Nabokov over and over.

    And also, Madeline L’Engle’s four-part memoir.

  23. My favorite is probably The Stand, by Stephen King. I finish books quickly, so the longest ones are always my favorites. The Stand is over 1000 [unabridged, which is the version you should read]. I’ve read it at least six times, and his ability to develop such a huge group of characters so thoroughly keeps me coming back again and again. Also, as a super-jaded horror fan, killer viral action is the only thing that still spooks me. Plagues is scary shit.

    A lot of people knock King, but he’s a mega-author. Really good stuff. Most people don’t know he wrote the books that inspired The Shawshank Redemption, Hearts in Atlantis, The Green Mile and Stand By Me [a short story entitled The Body]. He doesn’t only write horror, if you’re squeamish. See?

  24. I love, love, love To Kill a Mockingbird, which I recently listened to on audio CD (read by Sissy Spacek — perfect). I had tried reading it way back when and couldn’t get into it. I think I was too young. And the whole harper Lee/Truman Capote connection is so cool, too.

    BTW, audio CDs are an incredibly awesome way to spend your commute. Lately I always have a “real” book to read at night and on weekends, and an audio book for my ride to and from work. I hardly have to spend any time in reality!

  25. Just in case anyone got the idea that I was an intellectual, here’s my yearly rereads list:
    Confederacy of Dunces (shut up, Sweet Machine, you clearly read it wrong)
    The Once and Future King
    Good Omens
    The whole Hitchhiker’s Guide series including the radio scripts but minus So Long and Thanks for All the Fish which I should probably give a fourteenth or fifteenth chance to
    Cosmicomics
    The Code of the Woosters
    All of Preacher and/or all of Transmetropolitan
    At least one of the following: Pale Fire, Box Office Poison, If on a winter’s night a traveler, Dictionary of the Khazars

    Approximately four of those are smart books, and three of them have PICTURES.

  26. Rachel – I loved Geek Love right up until the end! I thought it was so bizarre and perverted and compelling, but I could have done without the last 30 pages.

  27. I read Geek Love when I was… 11 or 12, maybe 13 tops? Because my mom left it lying around, which was a bad thing to do when I was a kid if you didn’t want me reading something. (Actually my mom didn’t care what I read, which was usually cool.) It hit me pretty hard. I’m not sure I could read it again.

    Another book I can’t read again is The Hotel New Hampshire. I actually had to get it out of my house, but the stupid person I “lent” it to GAVE IT BACK. Of course I lose all my good books that way but I couldn’t get rid of this one.

  28. I hated “Fear and Trembling” when I first read it in college, then came to like it better as we discussed it in class and as I re-read it to write a paper on it. In fact, I liked it so much that I took an entire course on Kierkegaard, and met my husband through a mututal Kierkegaard love.

    Candide was similar for me — hated it at first read, came to appreciate it once I got the context better.

  29. I’m a NOTORIOUS re-reader. I think it’s because I devour books like those fat-hating morons THINK we devour donuts. I read so many books that if I pick it up again a year later, I can’t remember what happens in it. I’ll remember THAT I read it, but that’s about it.

    J, I have to second To Kill a Mockingbird. I’ve only read it once or twice (in school), but that’s a book that will be forever tatooed on my heart.

    And sprinklemouse, can I join the Stephen King fanclub, too? I love his horror, but when I realized that he wrote Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile>, I just HAD to get my hands on them… and I was NOT disappointed. I swear, if he wasn’t old enough to be my father and we weren’t both married and I didn’t live 5,000 miles away from him… I’d marry him. ;)

    Oh, and I’m in love with Harry Potter, too. I was surprised at just how good the book was – I literally couldn’t bring myself to put it down, and now Hubby and I (‘cuz of course I got HIM hooked on it, too) are searching high and low for every book we can get our hands on so that we can have the whole set. He even went out and bought this last one like a week after it was released. And we don’t buy books brand-new – charity shops R our friends. ;)

  30. I love a lot of ‘cozy’ mysteries, but seldom re-read them. I also love the Harry Potter books & the Terry Pratchett Discworld series, which I do re-read my favorites of repeatedly. My favorites, however, are actually kids books, gothic mystery thrillers first written by John Bellairs, then continued by Brad Strickland after Bellairs’ death. I collect as many as I can get & I read them over & over again, particulary when the chill sets in in the autumn. I live in Maine & have a fondness for the “Home repair is homicide” series by Sarah Graves as well.

  31. Stephen King is mega dorky book-love. And he cameos in all his movies, despite being just about the worst actor ever. I’d marry him too, if not for his wife. His coke bottle glasses, and unshaven, hermit charm.. *tiger growl* XD

  32. My favorite re-read is The Eight by Katherine Neville. It’s a fascinating book with two story lines woven together. You have to read it at least twice just to catch all the references. It’s been compared to Davinci Code, but it’s not an accurate comparison, other than there are religious themes.

    Sniper – if you’re enjoying Holmes (and feminism!), I would recommend the Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King. The first book, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice I read usually once a year. She does a pretty good job capturing Holmes’ character and gives him a really good partner.

    Glad to know there are plenty of adult fans of Harry Potter still left in the world!

  33. Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. SO good. I read it first as an undergrad English major, then again in a graduate Faulkner seminar, and a few times since on my own. I truly loved it the first time around, but it becomes even more brilliant upon each rereading.

    Also: I’ve only read three-fourths of Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible, but it haunts me still. I bought it to read at the beach several summers ago and was so stunned by the power of the narrative and the sad, sad climax that I actually couldn’t finish it. Someday I will pick it up again and read the whole thing from beginning to end…but it will require some steeling of the emotions.

  34. Twilight of the Superheroes by Deborah Eisenberg. What a gorgeous book. Also Harry Potter and Jack Finney. Also anything by V.S. Naipul (especially the nonfiction). Also Laurie King. Also, and please don’t throw anything at me, I love Proust. I re-read the whole thing every five years or so and it just gets better and better.

    Am currently wading through the Maryssa Pessl book–so far it’s booooring and pretentious.

    I had to write a book review of Geek Love. Must say I hated it passionately then. Haven’t tried to reread it though.

  35. Ha ha, great minds think alike, and Shapelings are obviously possessed of great minds! I see Chiara has already named Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye, and penguinlady has named Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series, which were the two immediate thoughts in my head for multi-read novels!

    I have read Cat’s Eye about 10 times and get something new out of it everytime – and I really identify with protagonist’s experiences of being bullied, and the way her “artist’s brain” works. (Weirdly enough, I just put Cat’s Eye on my nightstand the other day, for another re-read!) And Laurie R. King is a really intelligent, feminist mystery writer….of all the books brought to me the last time I was in the hospital, doped up on morphine, those Mary Russell books were the only ones I would read!

  36. Chiara: CLOUD ATLAS KICKS SO MUCH ASS. That is actually on my “reread as soon as humanly possible” list, but of course being a grad student in English, that list gets perpetually deferred.

    Alyce, my partner read The Time Traveler’s Wife recently and had the exact same reaction — you’re not alone! It was very awkward, actually, because I raved about it when I read it, and then he would come home from his commute (which is when he reads) and rant about how mediocre it was.

    Everyone: stop apologizing for the perceived nerdiness of the books you read! I am a grad student; nerdiness is my bread and butter.

  37. I should also mention that Mrs Dalloway was amazing the first time, but SO FUCKING AMAZING I DIED the second time. So, uh, I recommend that.

  38. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. I’ve read it, oh, about ten times, and it never ceases to amaze me. I get teary-eyed every time!

  39. Hm…I dig anything Barbara Kingsolver does. The Poisonwood Bible is a fave of mine. I also dig East of Eden…I hated it the first go round (I was a senior in high school at the time) but I recently bought myself a copy…love, love, LOVED it the second. And I plan on reading it again. Another favorite is The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison…that is top runner in my list of faves.

  40. I re-read everything because I tend to devour books so that they’re gone before I can replenish my supplies.

    Certain books are more re-reading friendly, though. I do love Margaret Atwood, and Cat’s Eye is probably my favorite, but the soap-opera-ness of The Robber Bride also stands up well– I think because you get three main characters for the price of one.

    When I was a tiny child, The Sneetches and Other Stories was the go-to book when I was sick. My mom insisted it had powers.

    Through most of my 20′s, Kitchen, by Banana Yoshimoto, was my #1 bittersweet read and re-read book. I do still love it.

    Probably my favorite book ever is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, but it’s not one that you can read back-to-back-to-back.

    Graham Greene’s The Quiet American gets better after a couple reads, or it may just be that it’s gotten more relevant as I’ve grown up and the world has gotten messier.

    Both Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse, by Jared Diamond, are worth multiple reads– they’re just so full of amazing juicy detail that it’s easy to miss everything after just one attempt.

    Finally, I barely choked down 30 pages of The Time Traveler’s Wife. My opinion? Gecchhhh.

  41. I would recommend the Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King. The first book, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice I read usually once a year.

    Got ‘em. Love ‘em.

  42. Both Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse, by Jared Diamond, are worth multiple reads– they’re just so full of amazing juicy detail that it’s easy to miss everything after just one attempt.

    You know, I didn’t even think of non-fiction until I saw that. And DUH, I’ve read The Obesity Myth 3 times since it came out in 2004, and it definitely gets better every time.

  43. Jannette, my favorite thing about Collapse (which I’ve only read once) was the part about the Greenland Vikings. For weeks I was walking around going “Did you know that the Viking settlers in Greenland starved because they DIDN’T EAT FISH?!?! Did you know their cows were only four feet tall?!”

  44. Probably my favorite book ever is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, but it’s not one that you can read back-to-back-to-back.

    I would go a step further and say you shouldn’t read two Murakami books back to back. I’m reading Norwegian Wood right now, and I like it, but it would be practically intolerable if I’d read any other Murakami recently. John Irving and Kobo Abe are the same way.

  45. Yay, another Banana Yoshimoto lover! Kitchen and that one Sinead O’Connor album can transport me instantly back in time.

    And seriously, y’all who love The Namesake, look at Lahiri’s first set of short stories, Interpreter Of Maladies, and you will lose your mind. Another short story set I have read eight hundred times and recommended eight million times is For Relief Of Unbearable Urges by Nathan Englander. Mmph, girl. I promise you they will become your re-reads too.

    The Name Of The Rose by Italo Calvino is the only work of his I’ve re-read (although we had a set of the Italian folk tales he edited when I was a kid) and I tried and failed to read The Island Of The Day Before. What I’m hearing is that I should try some of his other books, yes?

    I need to re-read The Sound And The Fury and to try to get into Mrs. Dalloway again. It’s so exciting to have a book list!

  46. What I’m hearing is that I should try some of his other books, yes?

    Actually, you should just try some of his books; you’ve been reading Umberto Eco. :) (But yes, read some more of that too.)

    I need to reread The Sound and the Fury too! But actually I have some Faulkner I should read for the first time first. Would you believe I’ve never read Light in August?

  47. Oh my god! That’s so funny, because I’m rereading Heart of Darkness now (only the second time for me). The first time I didn’t get much out of it and just thought, “meh.” The racism and sexism didn’t help win me over. But this time it actually might be one of my favorites! (Racism and sexism aside–a caveat so many good books seem to require.) It’s really pretty astonishing how Conrad understands the voracious hunger that leads people to darkness…I find Kurtz a completely sympathetic character.

  48. Oops, sorry. (Someone fill me in sometime on how to italicize on here…)

    Anyway. Comfort food to comfort books…..I tend to read this one when I’m ill in bed: Daddy-Long-Legs. Had a copy in the house when I was a kid – I think it belonged to someone in my mother’s family. Lost that copy during one of my moves and found another one second-hand somewhere. I find people over here tend not to have even heard of it. Judy Abbott reminds me very much of me, at that age and now. And knowing the twist at the end never spoils it for me.

    Another one, which may surprise anyone who knows it: Johnny Got His Gun, by Dalton Trumbo. About a young man horribly injured in WWI and unable to communicate with anyone, lying in his sanatorium bed and thinking about his past life growing up in the American midwest. Yes, it’s harrowing, but the in-between bits are so sensual and idyllic in places, it’s heartbreaking. I cried openly on the bus when I first read this one.

    Perelandra by C. S. Lewis. The middle book of his Space Trilogy and my favorite, mostly for the world he creates – I don’t agree with his theology and I’m always arguing with him in my head as I read the bits where that comes in!

    I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan…Philip Pullman, for me, is much more intriguing. I’m on tenterhooks to see if the Golden Compass movie will be any good.

    And oh, Chiara, Always Coming Home – yes! Sonmeone else has actually heard of it! I would love to live in the Valley…

  49. When I was a tiny child, The Sneetches and Other Stories was the go-to book when I was sick.

    Oh, I still remember how freaked out and frightened I was by the nightmareish pale green pants with nobody inside ‘em. I’m amazed that my kid isn’t frightened by them at all.

  50. Someone else here who has read Always Coming Home. It moved me to actual sobbing. LeGuin is a treasure.

    I’m a huge fantasy fan, and I see a few other people here have leanings in that direction. I still feel like a sore thumb. My tastes are old-fashioned and very pulpy.

    Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars books. I came to these late, but my heart knew it had found a home on Barsoom with John Carter, Dejah Thoris, and Gahan of Gathol. (Sorry. Turan the Panthan.)

    I return to Steven Brust’s Taltos novels and the Viscount of Ahdrilankha books, especially when I am sick, because they always make me laugh. I am in love with Morrolan.

    Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser books were my first real adult books, and like a first lover, they brought me out of one phase of life and into another. They grew me up. Mouser was my first openly sexual crush. I burst into tears at the mall when I learned that Fritz died.

    Robert E. Howard. People sneer at barbarian sword and sorcery, but there is an uncompromising ethos at the core of Howard’s work, a powerful message about the will and strength of mankind. It is just not a message popular with readers or writers today.

    Lovecraft, Dunsany . . . Clark Ashton Smith, who was an amazing short story writer that shamefully few have heard of. I love weird fiction and keep an anthology by the bed at all times.

    And my guiltiest pleasure: Nora Roberts’ series she writes as J.D. Robb, her In Death books. They are simply fabulous cop/mystery stories with just a little romance and some wonderful characters. She is the only romance writer I can bear to read, and really, only when she writes as Robb.

  51. Dr. Seuss is also wonderful, I don’t think we should ever outgrow him. And I forgot to mention Daniel Pinkwater, who writes wonderful books for kids (even if the kid happens to be 58″, such as “Looking For Bobwicz”, “Fat Camp Commandoes”, “Fat Camp Commandoes Go West”, his collections of essays from National Public Radio, & his very quirky adult novel, “The Afterlife Diet.” He creates interesting, quirky, & overall positive fat characters & his sense of humor is unique.

  52. Johnny Got His Gun, by Dalton Trumbo. About a young man horribly injured in WWI and unable to communicate with anyone, lying in his sanatorium bed and thinking about his past life growing up in the American midwest.

    I’ve been a huge Metallica fan for years, and if my memory serves me correctly, it was this book that inspired James Hetfield to write the song “One.”

    Also, Emerald, I’m pretty sure I’ve read Daddy Long Legs, too. When I read the title, alarm bells went off in my head, but I’ll be damned if I can remember anything about it whatsoever.

    (Oh, and a hint: to italicise, use < instead of [ — other than that, you’ve got the idea.)

    Patsy, my 7-year-old would certainly agree with you on Dr. Seuss!!! She’s got one of those Best of… books and reads it every single night before falling asleep!

  53. Rachel, the thing that I find amazing about Heart of Darkness is how much the book deconstructs/complicates that racism and sexism throughout. Like, yes, Marlow says that women live in their own beautiful world devoid of facts — but then he lies to the Intended, deliberately keeping her in that factless world (which, incidentally, is filled with objects made from mahogany and ivory — i.e., objects paid for with the blood of Africans). Many times when the book seems to make an essentialist statement, that statement is implicated as a part of the false split between the “dark” world of Africa and the “light” world of Europe.

    For more information, please attend my Friday discussion section! ;-)

  54. Oh, but I can’t say I find Kurtz sympathetic at all. Or Marlow anymore. Everyone seems tainted to me now.

  55. Kurt Vonnegut also gets better and better. He’s my novel-equivalent of comfort food. He was one of the only authors I found comforting when depressed, because he validated my unhappiness with the world but still found some hope in it.

  56. Anything written by Virginia Woolf,
    The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgeson Burnett (sp?)
    the Narnia Books by C.S.Lewis,
    On Green Dolphin Street by Sebastian Faulks,
    The Constant Gardener by le Carre
    Witch Child / Sorceress by Celia Rees
    The Loop / The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans
    Slow Waltz on Cedar Bend by R.J.Waller
    Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
    and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    Bit of a mix, but I can read all of them repeatedly and never get sick of them :o)

  57. I had to read Pride and Prejudice 3 times between highschool and undergrad, and the first two times I HATED it, but the third time was a charm. I love Hart of Darkness, the language is amazing, and there is this fabulous perfectly Victorian quote about women near the beginning that I absolutely adore in a pop cult history sort of way.

  58. Will report back if I get my sonorously-named Italian authors straightened out.

    Chiara, don’t worry about it, it was cute! And it means that Calvino gets to be completely new to you. I have a feeling you’ll really like him.

  59. nuckingfutz – Daddy-Long-Legs is by Jean Webster. Judy Abbott, an orphan, is sent to college by an anonymous trustee of the orphanage, on the sole condition that she writes and tells him of her progress. She knows nothing about this guy apart from having glimpsed him leaving the orphanage one evening and he’s very tall and lanky, so she addresses him, for want of another name, as Daddy-Long-Legs. Her letters to him form most of the book, and you get to see her discovering life, the joys of education, becoming a writer, making friends and eventually, falling in love. It’s a great little American coming-of-age book (a lot of it set in NY state, around 1910 I think) – I’m still not sure how someone in my family came to have a copy.

    And yes, Johnny Got His Gun was the inspiration for “One”. Love Metallica! (You should hear the version of “One” by Apocalyptica, though…four long-haired Finnish guys on cellos, what’s not to like?!)

  60. Okay, now that you described the book, I’m absolutely CERTAIN I’ve read it. Must have been a long time ago, though.

    As for that other version of “One”… I remember when Metallica did that whole album and tour with the symphony, so I have a little idea what that must sound like. I don’t know where I’d go about getting my hands on a copy of that particular version, but I’m sure it sounds GOOD! :)

  61. sweetmachine – I’m always full of those types of facts, but Collapse and Guns, Germs, and Steel have both been a particularly awesome source of them. For me, that’s what makes both books totally re-readable.

    fillyjonk – To me, Norwegian Wood is the total opposite type of Murakami book. Even though it’s unbelievably sad, it’s not as weighty. More like After Dark than Kafka On The Shore.

    Finally, the green pants were just as scared as the weird little guy! They were good!

  62. I mostly meant that it has the Murakami hallmarks… detached protagonist, fragile troubled girls, awkward sexual banter, otherworldly places or events, and I’m willing to bet an unsatisfying ending. (Hard-Boiled Wonderland is exempt from the last one, as I actually thought it wrapped up nicely.) Don’t get me wrong, I love Murakami, but he can seem a little monomaniacal if you overdose. Like Irving and his bears and incest and horrible deaths.

    I don’t think I ever found out that the green pants were good, because I was too scared to read that far!

  63. I mostly meant that it has the Murakami hallmarks… detached protagonist, fragile troubled girls, awkward sexual banter, otherworldly places or events, and I’m willing to bet an unsatisfying ending.

    I think you just convinced me not to read Murakami. That’s pretty much the master list of things I don’t enjoy in novels. :) (Of course, I’ve mentioned both Harry Potter and The Time Traveler’s Wife on this thread, but those are about the only books with otherworldly places or events I dig.)

  64. Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees. I liked the sequel (Pigs in Heaven) less, but I reread The Bean Trees at least twice a year. I’m also forever attached to Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary, ever since I first discovered it in kindergarten; Faust; and any of Madeleine L’Engle’s works.

    I’m also in the pool with To Kill a Mockingbird. :)

  65. Amanda and Emerald–I have never met anyone, even other LeGuin fans, who has even heard of Always Coming Home; I always thought she wrote it just for me to randomly find on a bookstore sale pile when I was in tenth grade.

    I actually wrote her a fan letter about that book, years ago, and she wrote me back to tell me how special it is to her too–one of the most awesome moments of my life was getting a letter with her name on the return address!

    I think I immediately loved P&P when I first read it…I had read Sense And Sensibility in high school and not thought much of it, but I still remember how excited I was in college to realize that Austen had written six whole novels, and the weird balance between looking forward to reading the next one (except I have never got that into Northanger Abbey) and being sad that there were only six. One of my goals as a reader is to find a good edition of her juvenilia one day.

  66. Ooh, I hit Submit too quickly…I was just going to add that one of the best things about re-reading is that sort of happy internal sigh of relief you get when you read the first few pages of a beloved book, that sense that everything is going to be all right while you’re inside it–that even though you know “how it’s going to end,” you know that there is a completely new experience waiting for you there anyway. I also like the sense that you get to spend time with characters you love (or love to hate), as if you’re visiting friends.

    Combined with a snuggly blanket and some of the yummies mentioned over on the comfort food thread (I nominate ginger nuts dipped in tea with milk and sugar), there are few better ways to spend an afternoon, I think.

    Rereading is AWESOME.

  67. I used to read a lot more new stuff than I do now, like browsing the new stacks at the library, but with little time, I’m definitely up for re-reads that get better, or at least are the equivalent of comfort food.

    My current comfort reads:
    - Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books, especially those dealing with the characters from the Watch (Sam Vimes is my Discworld boyfriend)

    Previous items on that list:
    - Into the Forest
    - Heyer regency novels: they’re like something Jane Austen might write after a few martinis, with the attendant snarky attention to fashion details and social missteps.
    - Louisa May Alcott books (even the more obscure ones like Eight Cousins or Jo’s Boys)
    - Little House on the Prairie series
    - The Fifth Sacred Thing, a bit of spiritual sci-fi by Starhawk that I enjoyed for a while. Being in the Bay Area at that time, I enjoyed identifying places that I’d been that were in the book.

    Books that get (even) better on reading
    - Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell: such a delightfully detailed back story! This was my introduction to alternate-history fantasy, and I yummed it up…

    Weighing in on the Time-Traveler’s Wife: I cried at the end, and I normally don’t for books.

  68. I was so excited to read everyone’s picks! So here is mine, but first:: Katherine Dunn wrote “Geek Love” I believe. Big book for me in college.I re-read Margaret George’s “Autobiography of Henry VIII” yearly, and sometimes I just pull it out and read passages to “visit” with my “friend”. Is that sad?Annie Dillard’s For the Time Being- so spare, so beautiful, so DENSE. Worth re-reading. I too love Stephen King, JK Rowling. I’ve read “Time Traveller’s Wife” twice and loved it both times. I’ve re-read Sue Miller’s “Family Pictures” half a dozen times. I’ve re-read Anne Rice’s “Witching Hour” probably as often. I’m a huge re-reader. In fact most of the time the first time I read something I do so to get the plot out out of the way so I can re-read it for the language. Speaking of Anne Rice- I loathed “Interview with the Vampire” the first two times I tried to read it. Now I appreciate it. Also had that reaction with Edith Wharton’s “Age of Innocence” – I appreciated it more with additional readings. Happy reading, all!

  69. Forgot to add: I’ve been a fence sitter on “Name of the Rose” for years and keep picking it up and putting it back down- after reading the comments…I’m reading it, starting today. Anyone want to advise me on “Lonesome Dove”, which is the other book I Cannot Get Through But For Some Reason Feel Compelled To Read?

  70. I’ve read every Discworld novel (by Terry Pratchett) at least 3 times; most of them 5 times. #^_^# They’re my favourite ‘default’ read. I particularly like the ones focusing on the witches and Sam Vimes.

    Pratchett’s Discworld novels for young teens, starring a young witch called Tiffany Aching, are also excellent when I’m in the mood for something fun and comforting with enough substance to stop it from being pure fluff.

    Neil Gaiman’s ‘Sandman’ graphic novels are a must read. They’re what first got me into this genre, and they get better every time I read them (but they’re pretty heart-breaking so avoid them if you’re feeling down).

    Other graphic novels that I enjoy very much are ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’, ‘Hell Boy’, and ‘Lucifer’.

    For straight-up, uncomplicated comics, I read my ‘Get Fuzzy’ and ‘Dilbert’ collections over and over again. :)

    I saw some people mention Stephen King. I absolutely LOVE ‘The Green Mile’ and ‘Shawshank’, as well as the less popular ‘The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordan’, which I found really beautiful in a tense sort of way.

    For non-fiction, ‘Virgin or Vamp: How the Press Handles Sex Crimes’ is a book that will stay with me forever. I think everyone should read it.

    And, as someone who focused on Eastern Religions as part of my degree, I absolutely love Bernard Faure’s ‘The Red Thread’ and ‘The Power of Denial’, which look at gender and sexuality in Buddhism (focusing on monastic life and famous doctrines).

    ‘The Sword and the Flute: Kali and Krsna, Dark Visions of the Terrible and the Sublime in Hindu Mythology’ by David R Kinsley is one of my favourite books. Absolutely beautiful and a very good introduction to two of the most complex Hindu deities. Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty’s ‘Siva: the Erotic Ascetic’ is also a classic.

    And, since I just looked at my bookcase, there’s one more that deserves a mention: ‘Kissing the Witch’ by Emma Donaghue, where she retells traditional fairytales in a queer-friendly, female-orientated way. BEAUTIFUL.

  71. nuckingfutz – try this:

    Gemma – Sandman! Yes, yes, yes! Actually, I love anything Neil Gaiman. American Gods was pretty cool, and Stardust…although I’m half scared in case the movie’s crap. I have this problem with the movies of books, so often. And Alan Moore – Promethea turns some people off with all the magical stuff, but I like it.

  72. bigmovesbabe: OMG, how did I forget Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell!! I’ve only read it twice, and I’m not sure I liked it more the second time, but it definitely moved instantly into those books that are very comfortable and pleasurable to reread (I think Chiara’s description is perfect).

  73. Anyone want to advise me on “Lonesome Dove”, which is the other book I Cannot Get Through But For Some Reason Feel Compelled To Read?

    Read it in high school and LOVED IT, though I loved McMurtry’s Anything for Billy even more. Read that one first and then plowed through a few more of his, including Lonesome Dove, immediately after.

    So I’d recommend giving it a shot, with the caveat that what I loved when I was 16 might not be what I love at 32.

  74. I read all the classics when I was a kid, Black Beauty, Kidnapped, Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Tom Sawyer (my mom got me a set of like 20 classics for Christmas one year and I had read them all by New Year’s). Most of what I read now is either is science fiction/fantasy (love Piers Anthony, what a wicked sense of humor that man has, and Robert Heinlein, E.E. “Doc” Smith, Jack Chalker, Robert Zelazny, and the list can go on and on). Right now, I’m reading everything I can get my hands on by Susan Sizemore and Sherrilyn Kenyon (romances with vampires and werewolves/tigers/lions/bears oh my). Sherrilyn Kenyon did one with a plus size heroine who found true love (a HOT guy, werewolf) without losing weight (he liked her as-is). I tend to reread a lot, mainly because I get something new every time I reread a book, mainly because I’ve grown and learned and see things in a different way as time passes. I have more personal experiences to draw on and reference as time passes, so I can see new facets in something I’ve read years ago.

  75. Hmm. My post got eaten, and I don’t know if it’s because I included a link.

    But I’ll try again. I loved Time Traveller’s Wife as well, but can’t read it over too often because I can only cry so much.

    I’m surprised no one has yet mentioned Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy (which has been on my mind and a subject of my latest blog post) because the Christian fundies are tying themselves up in knots about it. It’s one of those books where you read it first because of the driving narrative, then you read it because you want to know what the author means to tell you, then you’re reading it to see how it can shape your personal worldview. I cannot recommend it enough.

    I also want to add my voice to the chorus of LeGuin (although I thought “Gifts” was pretty weak) and L’Engle. Beautiful books.

  76. Armistead Maupin’s ‘Tales of the City’ books I’ve re-read many times and still adore. The characters are like good friends to me – even when they screw up I still love them and care about what happens to them.

    I love a good intriguing family drama you can get your teeth into and heartily recommend ‘The Crow Road’ by Iain Banks.

    I’ve read all the Harry Potters but feel no need to revisit them – however, Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy I will definitely re-read at some stage. (And the film clips look amazing).

    Rachel, I really like Richard Mattheson and have only just discovered he was the author of ‘Bid Time Return’. I plan on reading it as soon as I can find a copy as the film kills me – I mean, kills me every time, no matter how many times I see it. I have a big thing for time travel, parallel dimesions and paradox. So, yeah, another massive ‘Time Traveller’s Wife’ fan here; my all time favourite book ever. Cried buckets. Love the love story for it’s sheer ordinariness and the tragedy that makes it so epic.

  77. The Name of the Rose always tops my list. I read it every two years or so, mostly to see what new references I pick up. As the years go by I become more and more convinced that Eco didn’t so much write the novel as cobble together references and homages to every other book he’s ever read. If you don’t believe me, go find a copy of Walpole’s The Castle Otranto. Read it, and then go back and read the prologue and first chapter in Rose. In case you still managed to miss it, he gives it you – the name of the first monk to be found dead in the dungheap is…Otranto. I read Rose in high school and then Otranto in college and couldn’t figure out why it seemed so familiar. When I read Rose again I couldn’t stop laughing.

    Tam Lin by Pamela Dean is second on my list for similar reasons. I think that this is partially because I happened to read it when I was the same age as the heroine of the book. I honestly can’t tell if I re-read it because it’s a great nostalgia trip for me, or if it’s really a good book.

    I enjoyed The Time Traveller’s Wife, but I don’t think I’ll read it again. It is a great story but Niffenegger’s writing skills aren’t actually up to the challenge of presenting it the way she did. On several occasions in that book I’d be reading along and halfway through the chapter she’d use a pronoun and I’d have to go back and look at the chapter head to see who was narrating, and then I’d have to reframe my thinking about the story because it was actually somebody else doing the talking.

    The story is brilliant, but she just can’t handle writing in two distinct voices. For multiple examples of that technique done right, read anything by Barbara Kingsolver. My personal favorite is Prodigal Summer.

  78. I am also firmly in the fan column for Special Topics in Calamity Physics, but I can absolutely see why it would drive some people nutso. I’m interested to see what Pessl does next – it smells like a one-hit-wonder to me, but I could be wrong.

  79. Joie, I adored His Dark Materials when I read it last year but haven’t had time to reread it. It’s another on my list of “things I desperately want to reread but probably won’t get to until I finish my PhD, or at least pass my orals.” ;-)

  80. I know this is old, but I want to add my votes for Pride and Prejudice, Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin, and pretty much everything but specifically A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle (despite the fact that she only seems to write beanpole heroines who don’t understand that being a tall skinny kid usually means you’ll grow up to look like a supermodel, at least in their cases).

    Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man got better each rereading. I haven’t read it in years, but back in high school I read it 3 times in a year (which, for Joyce, is quick succession) and loved it.

    Gatsby got better upon rereading but I don’t feel the need to read it again. I will never, ever touch Heart of Darkness again in my entire life. I hated it more than The Scarlet Letter.

  81. I hated it more than The Scarlet Letter.

    You know, I LOVED The Scarlet Letter when I read it in college, but I know a ton of people who couldn’t stand it. Maybe that’s one that gets worse on rereading?

  82. BTW Kate: I expect you would not like Murakami. Norwegian Wood turned out to be atypically mundane, but most of his books have some magical realism going on, and his female characters drive me nutso. (The one exception being, again, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, where ironically the female characters are a hypercompetent, independent fat girl and a woman who’s got a gastric abnormality that makes her eat constantly.) I think I started reading Murakami when I was feeling more fragile myself, and so the “lost little girl” trope didn’t bother me. Though to be fair, the person who was making me feel that way did tell me to read Hard-Boiled Wonderland and then not read any other Murakami ever. (On this, as on so many issues, I totally ignored him.)

  83. Patsy Nevins–I believe John Bellairs is from my hometown. At the very least the house from The House with the Clock in Its Walls is there, and I knew the people who lived in it. We always got to read lots of Bellairs in school due to this connection, which was cool. :)

    alainn_mactire, The Secret Garden is on my list too now that you mention it! Also A Little Princess, and in a similar vein, those “shoes” books by Noel Streatfeild. I’ve read all of them a bunch of times and I’m sure I will do so again.

    I think I must be one of those people whom truly smart people bemoan for enjoying books based mostly on plot and turn of phrase rather than on character development, symbolism, etc. (nobody here is saying this, but I recently heard a radio discussion on the topic and this characterization of the modern reader hit home uncomfortably). I hated Lonesome Dove more than just about any other book I have ever read, 90% because the violence scarred me for life and 10% because I don’t think I cared that much about the mostly-male characters, nor did I enjoy reading about the aspects of frontier life that it covered. But everyone else I’ve ever talked to has loved it, so I would say go for it if you have any inkling that it might be something you would enjoy.

  84. I remember reading that when Le Guin sent the manuscript in for Always Coming Home she had to persuade someone that she didn’t need copyright permission from the Native American tribe she was describing because they didn’t exist. For those who have read it: in my mind, I build a summer house every year.

    I re-read constantly and if under stress, it’s about the only kind of reading I can do. Ursula K. Le Guin and Connie Willis have created people and worlds I can live in and not be a stranger. I depend upon being able to go there and be refreshed and renewed.

    About recorded books, I just recently started listening in the car and thought that it would be better to get light stuff to listen to since my attention would be divided. WRONG! I never realized that prose I could read might not be prose I could listen to. If the book isn’t very well written, I just can’t do it. You can’t skim recorded books. However, P.G. Wodehouse is unbelievably wonderful to listen to. I can’t recommend it enough. Also Patrick O’Brien.

  85. Okay, so I have to nod along with a lot of what’s been mentioned…although I am another not-so-Potter and have never had the urge to pick up The Time Traveler’s Wife. My shortlist:

    * Poetry (yes I’m that geeky!) – Cummings, Millay, Frost, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Shel Silverstein. Aw, yeah.

    * Anything, but anything, by Patricia McKillip. Her prose reads like poetry. Gorgeous writing.

    * Political satire. Al Franken, Joseph Amann and Tom Breuer, Keith Olbermann…I’m slightly lefty. Some of this requires tolerating some anti-fat bias, though.

    * “Waking the Moon” by Elizabeth Hand. It’s dark and twisty and not usually my style, but there’s something about it that brings me back to it again and again.

    Yay books!

  86. Oh thank you, Tari, thank you!

    How could I forget Shel Silverstein???? Especially considering I just did a blog post about him a few weeks back, after introducing my 7 year old to the genius that is Shel Silverstein. :D

  87. Jane Eyre and all of Austen, but particularly P&P and Persuasion. Great feminist classics, in my view. I also adore Northanger Abbey because it is just a symphony of snideness and a great take-off of gothic novels. I still blush with mortification for Catherine when Henry finds her out. And the part at the end about her parents deliberately not noticing that sh was getting frequent letters.

    Connie Willis, every word. Despite knowing all the jokes I laugh my ass of at Bellwether every time I read it. If you love Dilbert you MUST read Bellwether. And Doomsday Book is sublime.

    I LOVE Daddy Long Legs, and hardly anyone knows about it. So many excellent authors have died in childbirth, Jean Webster and Charlotte Bronte among them.

    I love all of Charles deLint too.And gaining Marmee’s perspective in Little Women is interesting! And my brother was braindead for years starting at nineteen, and LW was a comfort because I felt for him what Jo felt for Beth.

    Anything by L’Engle. A Swiftly Tilting Planet is one I go back to often. Also Deerskin and Beauty by Robin McKinley.

    Sheri Tepper. Joyce Carol Oates. George Eliot. I think The Scarlett Letter imporves with time as well.

    Comfort books indeed! BTW, I read the comfort food thread and was forced (FORCED!) to make creamed peas, which I consumed a half pound of.

  88. I’m a major fantasy girl, and I’d have to say Ms. Robin Mckinley my absolute comfort-food author. I can reread her for like a week solid, and I read pretty damn fast.

  89. Almost anything by Terry Pratchett (except the books with Rincewind, those are kind of annoying). I didn’t expect his books to be funnier the second and third time, but they are.

    Also Notes from The Underground, 1984, Animal Farm, Sherri Tepper’s “Raising the Stones” and “The Family Tree”, and both “Dead Souls” and Gogol’s short stories.

    Dude, what is it with me and gloomy Russian novels/dark humor? I guess it must be a residual goth thing.

  90. OK, sorry for the multiple comments but…yeah, Stephen King. He’s one of the very few male authors who seems to totally Get It in terms of women being people. This wasn’t so obvious in his early books, but as time went on…well, I remember reading Gerald’s Game and being all “holy shit, a man wrote this?”.

  91. Reading through the archives, though massively late, I feel the need to comment because y’know: it’s about books!

    The Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke, though I’ve never read it in the original german (as I can’t), is exquisite, and I not only want but need to re-read them.

    A book that grew on me, and still continues to, from not finishing the first chapter out of boredom to searching out the sequels, is Anne of Green Gables. I’m not quite sure why, but it’s quirky and a good tale and with every read I love it more. I think spacedcowgirl has already mentioned it above.

    Best for last is the His Dark Materials Trilogy which I loved before I read it because as a kid I had read the titles. It never occurred to me to read them, and in all likelihood at six or seven would not have got it. Then I did, I don’t know how, I don’t even remember the first time, it’s been that long ago and that many rereads. It goes from them being titles on a shelf at home to being the most amazing books. They’re my designated ‘favourite’ books, I read them, and start again as soon as I’ve finished.

    Also fillyjonk mentioned Good Omens, which I just can’t leave out now and must second as it got, if possible, better on rereading.

    I have to stop myself there, as this list could go on a long, long time.

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