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wundayatta's avatar

What three novels have you reread the most in your life?

Asked by wundayatta (58367 points ) September 14th, 2012

For me it was the Foundation series, by Asimov, Follow My Leader, and A Wrinkle in Time by L’Engle. Two science fiction novels, both of which were about saving humankind, and one straight novel about a kid who is blinded when a fire cracker is thrown in his face, and he learns how to train his own guide dog.

Somehow, I feel these plots are crucial for my psychological development, but I’m not sure I want to really think about what they mean.

What are your novels? What are the stories of those novels? Are there many more novels you have read several times? Those are actually the only three I have.

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52 Answers

janbb's avatar

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (when I was a girl)
Time and Again by Jack Finnyt

Tiesha154587's avatar

November blues by Sharon Draper
Romiette and Julio by Sharon Draper
Darkness Before Dawn by Sharon Draper

Coloma's avatar

None. I have a handful of “spiritual” and self improvement books I keep and revisit for tune ups now and then, but, overall, I am a very in the moment type and once I have read a book or watched a movie I tend to not feel the need to revisit it. I absorb and retain information well so it seems redundant to re-read a story I have already read.
I am a mover on-er type, and enjoy a constant stream of NEW interests and information rather than recycling the old.

Seek's avatar

Three?

Well, Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are going to have to count as one. Throw The Silmarillion in there, too. It’s all the same story, and for all practical purposes it’s all the same book. The Hobbit is the first book I ever read, and my love affair with Tolkien’s Middle-Earth is a lifelong obsession.

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I’ve always loved the Arthurian legends, and when I was introduced to Bradley’s version of the events, I was instantly hooked. Now I’ve read all of her historical fantasies, and have moved into her science fantasies, like Darkover. Still, I always find myself coming back to Mists.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Sometimes I think it’s important to be reminded why knowledge is so important. This book is fun and educational, and makes apology for neither.

SuperMouse's avatar

Ordinary People by Judith Guest and the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling.

linguaphile's avatar

When I was little, I re-read my books constantly. I must’ve read many at least 10 times—All of S.E. Hinton’s books and Noel Streatfield’s entire_Shoes_ series comes to mind, along with the Little House books. I also read the Anne of Green Gables series several times—LM Montgomery has a lesser known series called Emily of New Moon- I read those quite a bit. I’ve also read To Kill a Mockingbird at least 10 times.

I can’t think of a book that I’ve read more than twice as an adult, other than To Kill a Mockingbird.

lookingglassx3's avatar

Stolen by Lucy Christopher.
Notre Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Dune – -Frank Herbert

Stranger in a Strange Land – - Robert A Heinlein

The Foundation Series ( all seven volumes ) – - Isaac Asimov

wundayatta's avatar

For those of you who just listed the three, if you don’t mind, could you provide a sense of the plot of each and why the stories appealed to you?

gailcalled's avatar

Ulysses by James Joyce (Use of language)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin (use of character and use of satire)
Moby Dick by Herman Melville. (use of big words)

The last time I reread Moby Dick, I actually listened to it on Books on Tape. That kept me from cheating and skipping the odd chapters on the whaling industry.

janbb's avatar

@gailcalled I loved the chapters on whaling and skipped the spiritual stuff!

tinyfaery's avatar

Frankenstein: I think it’s just brilliant.

The Awakening: I had to read it about 5 times in college. (It’s technically a novella.) I’ve reread the book on my own once.

Girlfriend In A Coma. I still don’t know how I feel about the ending, so I reread it once a few years to see if my thoughts on it have changed.

flutherother's avatar

The first three that come to mind and that I have probably read about seven times in total are…

The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien)
The Third Policeman (Flann O’Brien)
The House on the Borderland (William Hope Hodgson)

I have promised myself that someday I will read The Lord of the Rings one more time.

Seek's avatar

@flutherother As someone who has done it numerous times, let me recommend that you do not try to read LotR in chronological order, starting with the Silmarillion.

Somewhere about the middle of the First Age you’re going to get sick of reading the Bible and give up. I keep swearing I’m going to do it this time, because I love the Sil, but when what I really want is the Battle of Helm’s Deep, it’s pulling teeth to get through Beren and Luthien.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Love this question!

Wuthering Heights, the darkness intrigues me.
The Beauty Series of Erotica, obvious why
Jane Eyre, beautiful & unique love story

WestRiverrat's avatar

Huckleberry Finn – Sam Clemens
Tom Sawyer – Samuel Clemens

The Old Man and the Sea – Hemingway

bookish1's avatar

Really interesting question, @wundayatta. I’ve thought of asking it here myself before.

-Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe. A fantastic, rich, hilarious portrait of Manhattan in the mid-80s when bond salesmen were Kings of the Universe, a tale of hubris, of the way racial assumptions affect everything in the U.S.

-The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Ok, it’s young adult fiction I guess but I still re-read it. Coming of age story of a high school freshman in the early 90s, very intense and sensitive and bright, who is, as the title suggests, more of an observer than a participant. It took me years of re-reading this book to understand that the main character had been abused as a child… And I think that’s why I needed to read this so much.

-The Great Gatsby. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past.” The most beautifully constructed story I have ever read. It’s funny, I didn’t like this at all the first time I read it in high school. It took writing a paper about it and really thinking about it, to learn to appreciate it. I’ve pretty much got the whole thing memorized now, I’ve read it so many times.

wundayatta's avatar

@bookish1 Glad you answered it. Brilliant answer. I only thought of asking it today, inspired by some other discussion, but I don’t remember which one now. For me, I am a lot like @Coloma in that I feel like I never read books more than one. But there were those three books or series I mentioned that are the exception.

And in addition, there are a couple of books I’m reading again due to my children. The Phantom Tollbooth is one, and A Wrinkle in Time is the other, although that appears on my original list. My daughter also had to read Ender’s Game for school, which is weird to me, since I read it originally just for fun, and loved it, and got the author to sign my copy a couple of decades ago. Wow! TIme sure does pass fast.

josie's avatar

Atlas Shrugged-Ayn Rand
The Whisper of the Axe-Richard Condon
The Three Musketeers-Alexander Dumas

augustlan's avatar

If I liked a book the first time, I’ve reread it. I’m a huge re-reader, just because I’m a compulsive reader and can’t afford to keep myself in new material. I can hardly think of a book in my collection that I haven’t read multiple times. Good thing I have a terrible memory!

To Kill a Mockingbird I’ve read it at least once a year for the past 20 years. Atticus Finch is my all time favorite literary character, and my role model for being a good human being.

My other most read books are all short story collections, so I guess they don’t count here. The other novels I’ve read most are probably all Stephen King books, but I’d be hard pressed to tell you which ones.

laurenkem's avatar

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn – I have read this book at least 30 times. My all-time favorite!

bea2345's avatar

Pickwick Papers, by Charles Dickens; A House for Mr. Biswas, by V.S. Naipaul; The Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling.

Sunny2's avatar

I was a slow reader, and I fancied being an actress, so I read a lot of plays. These three colored what I thought of as ideal ways to live.
“You Can’t take it with You”: A family whose individuals did what they they wanted to regardless of practicality. They were kind of off beat and non conformist. Terrific, thought the child me.
“Life with Father”: A father who was an efficiency expert and used his principles to manage a family that has 12 children. I admired this family too.
“I Remember Mama:” a family led by a strong Norwegian mother, who made things work even though they were poor. Warm, sensible problems with good solutions.
I loved these stories and their lessons.
I just remembered the other reason I re-read them as often as I did. I I used them in drama classes I taught in junior high. These 3 plays were published together in paper back and were available in the school district.

Bellatrix's avatar

I don’t tend to re-read books over and over again. I have read some repeatedly though.

Papillon by Henri Charrière. I like the story but also his determination. He never gave up.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I like the story and the characters. I get more out of it each time I read it.

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra. I haven’t read it for a long time but there were times when this little book really resonated with me. I found it helpful when I was troubled.

glacial's avatar

Do parts of the bible count?

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Jane Eyre
The Hobbit

I could probably add an early Stephen King or two – maybe Salem’s Lot or The Shining. When I was younger, I wanted to re-read everything a million times. Then I started to realize how many books there are out there to read, and that I have a finite number of years to work on that.

glacial's avatar

@wundayatta I’m so glad you mentioned The Phantom Tollbooth. It is such a brilliant book, so full of wisdom for both young readers and adults. Maybe I’ll go re-read that now…

Edit: Ah! I’ve been reading backwards – now I see that it was @Seek_Kolinahr who mentioned it first. :)

wundayatta's avatar

It’s a little sad, though, @glacial. My son had to read The Phantom Tollbooth this summer as required reading for school. He hated it. I’m sure it had to do with it being homework over the summer, which is really sad because it is such a delightful book. I read it as a child—don’t remember how old—and enjoyed it. But when I read it as an adult I got all the jokes and puns and references and it was so much better. I hope my son decides to read it again sometime when it isn’t homework. Perhaps there are some books that just shouldn’t be assigned. They must be found on one’s own.

PhiNotPi's avatar

I don’t typically reread books, although there are a few that I have reread. The ones that I reread are almost always short-story collections (or relatively small novels).

“The Disappearing Spoon” by Sam Kean. It a book that tells a lot of (non-fiction) stories about all of the elements.

Big Ear Two” by John Kraus. It is about his experiences with radio astronomy.

“The Lost World” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is about a person discovering prehistoric life in South America.

The Mad Scientists’ Club series of books by Bertrand R. Brinley. It is about a group of boys who go on various adventures with DIY stuff. They build submarines, catch bank robbers with seismographs, and build a haunted house to mess with people.

“The Hot Zone” by Richard Preston. It is a longer (non-fiction thriller) book, but it is about the discovery of Ebola and the attempts to locate its source.

gailcalled's avatar

@janbb: This reinforces my view that you and I are yin and yang.

@KNOWITALL; “The Beauty Series of Erotic”: I never heard of this book; what is obvious about listing it?

I see one book listed here that would be on my list of three books I could never bear to reread.

glacial's avatar

@gailcalled I have a sneaking suspicion that we had the same reaction to the same book.

augustlan's avatar

Me, three.

Linda_Owl's avatar

I still have the copies of these books that I have had ever since I first read them & I re-read them on a regular basis.

Jane Eyre
Tom Sawyer
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

bewailknot's avatar

Pride and Prejudice – read it the first time for English 101, and was surprised I liked it – I usually hate assigned reading.
The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings – read them for the first time in Jr High (not assigned reading). I guess I read them every 5 years. My first fantasy books – I usually read SciFi back then.
Shape Changers by Jennifer Roberson – the first time I read it through I immediately read it again. A fantasy version of a classic romance novel – and I don’t like romance novels.

filmfann's avatar

The Harry Potter Series. I think I have read them all 10 times plus. Considering how long they are, that has to be some kind of achievement.

Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson. A constant companion in my 20s.

The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller. Yes, it is a graphic novel, therefore not much more than a long comic book, but it is the best of the Genre. Easily 20 times.

@wundayatta In the 7th grade I read Follow My Leader, and ended up stealing that book from my English teacher. I loved that book!

Nullo's avatar

It’s difficult to be sure. For years I only had access to a fairly small number of novels, so I re-read a lot. Lessee…

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
From the Earth to the Moon
The single-volume edition of the Chonicles of Narnia, though that may count as seven separate novels

fremen_warrior's avatar

Frank Herbert’s DUNE
Stanislaw Lem’s SOLARIS
Jack London’s… everything?

Adagio's avatar

Somewhere between the ages of 13 and 20-something I must have read all the Narnia books dozens of times, well perhaps that is somewhat of an exaggeration but it was certainly lots and lots of times.

Ponderer983's avatar

@SuperMouse I’m with you on Ordinary People. My favorite book! I finish it in one night over and over again.

Symbeline's avatar

Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I love how the book paints a vivid image of everything that’s going on, and sets up the according mood; fear or warmth, at any given time. It’s the kind of book that I still think about when I go to bed, so it’s like exploring the story some more…aah the night, what it can do. Lol.
I found it rather interesting that a lot of Dracula is shaped by the fear he spreads, possibly a lot more so than when he’s actually around.
Plus you have to love all the parts where everyone is smoking cigars and sipping on brandy like as if that’s all people ever really had to do back then.
Currently reading the French version, which kind of sucks, despite having good translation. I prefer the original English version.

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. A story about fucked up youths in Scotland, mostly heroin addicts…but there are plenty of other characters. I find it so fascinating, and most importantly, so much fun to read. I really love all the Scottish slang and everything. Some is funny, some is enlightening, mostly it’s just really depressing and disturbing. But it has a frightening sense of realism that I can’t ignore. Not just because the world sucks and this book reflects that quite well, but it describes a lot on how all characters think. It’s a very honest book, plus it swears the whole time. Whether you’re wanting something deep or some light hearted reading, it has it all. I’ve read it so many times, and the last times I have, I didn’t even read it in order. It’s all ’‘mini stories’’ surrounding the characters that all amount to something bigger in the end, but most just describe their lives without any real conclusion in sight. It’s an odd format, but one that easily grew on me. Also, Spud rocks.

The Black Castle by Les Daniels. another vampire story about a vampire so evil, so heartless and cold…yet, he’s disgusted by humans. Taking place during the Spanish Inquisition, a series of events occur to some conclusion I can’t really talk about, else it would ruin the whole book for anyone who might be interested. But what struck me about the book was how well done the characters were, even if most are a bit raw and cookie cutter; they are so in such a delightful way. I love how they act in a story that seems to drag on and on, yet something always happens at every corner. A bit hard to explain…but even if it weren’t for all that, the vampire featured here is how I like them; badass with a slight bid of a soft spot. There’s a whole series that the author made about Don Sebastian De Villanueva, our vampire protagonist, but sadly…most of the following books are mere repeats of the original story, and nowhere near as good. :/

Serevaetse's avatar

Some of my favorite books that I have read a million times were “Holes” by Louis Sachar, “Love is a mix tape” by Rob Sheffield, and probably all of my Junie B. Jones books by Barbara Park!

In case you couldn’t tell… After I got out of high school, I kinda lost the drive to read.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Animal Farm,
To Kill a Mockinbird,
Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
I read everything Steinbeck ever wrote, especially The Grapes of Wrath. I refer to his books, travel journals, autobiographical and writing notes regularly.

trailsillustrated's avatar

Of Human Bondage, The Painted Veil, (both Maugham) and Watership Down. And the Nathaniel Hornblower series,( Forester) and A Movable Feast, (Hemingway).

this_velvet_glove's avatar

The Catcher In The Rye by J. D. Salinger (I just love the main character, Holden. Really.)

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh (Don’t ask me why I like it so much, I just do.)

There’s also a book that I used to read all the time when I was 11, but I don’t remember the title.
Right now, I’m thinking of rereading either Christine by Stephen King, or The Secret Life Of Laszlo, Count Dracula by Roderick Anscombe.

Adagio's avatar

@trailsillustrated GA for Watership Down

Seek's avatar

@wundayatta I hope he reads it again, too. Maybe when he’s a few years older, and the memory of the book being shoved down his throat is long past. ^_^

That said, I still haven’t re-read Narnia since being forced to suffer through it in fourth grade, but then, I was already a hardcore Tolkien fan at that age.

Adagio's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I loved both the Narnia Chronicles and The Hobbit.

gailcalled's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr: Fourth grade? We were still at the Dick and Jane stage, I seem to remember. In Fifth grade, the treat was to have our teacher read “Stuart Little” to us at the end of the school day.

Seek's avatar

@gailcalled I remember that the teacher read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe out loud, because there were a lot of kids in the class who couldn’t read well on their own. I was… eight(?) then, and had already been reading for four years. My dad and I read The Hobbit and LotR together before I finished third grade.
I read Narnia pretty quickly so I could pass the test, then while the teacher was reading, I probably had a handful of Fear Street and Goosebumps books I was chewing through.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@gailcalled The Beauty series is basically erotic fiction, much more so than 50 Shades. I thought with Erotica in the title it was obvious why I re-read it…lol

wildpotato's avatar

I read Incident at Hawk’s Hill by Allan W. Eckert until it disintegrated into individual pages, and then I taped it together and reread it a few dozen more times. Haven’t thought about that book in years. It’s about a boy who loves animals, gets lost on the prairie, and is cared for by a mother badger who lost her newborn pups.

I did the same to Walter Farley’s Black Stallion – boy gets shipwrecked with awesome horse, becomes buddies with horse, and I won’t spoiler the end for those of you who somehow haven’t read it.

Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, and the rest of the three as I got a bit older, I must’ve reread countless times. Um…ailens, genius kids, Battle School, more aliens, Portugese, AI, OCD, more aliens…hmph, let’s see you try to sum it up then!

Thanks for the memory trip, wundy – I think I’ll revisit some old friends, just as soon as I finish up with this Tad Williams behemoth I’m working on at the moment.

Edit: oh yeah, also White Fang. It’s interesting to realize, in answering this Q, that I reread books a lot more when I was a kid.

AngryWhiteMale's avatar

Wonderful question!

Like @linguaphile and others, there are quite a few children’s books I have read more than once. However, for the purposes of my answers, I’ll restrict myself to adult literature, however you define it. I often don’t re-read books, simply because there’s way too much to read as it is, and I know I’ll never be able to read everything I want to. But there’s a handful I’ve read more than once.

1) Time And Again, by Jack Finney. It’s the story of a man who becomes part of a government time-travel project and travels back to 1880’s New York. Very charming story, and indulges my love of history.

2) Addie Pray, by Joe David Brown. You may recognize this by its reprint title, Paper Moon. It’s the story of Addie, a young orphan, and her traveling companion (who may or may not be her father), con man Moses Pray, and their adventures during the Great Depression; the first half of the book is set in Alabama (and was adapted into the movie “Paper Moon”), while the second half takes place mostly in New Orleans. Not sure why I re-read this one, except it’s a well-written book (but then again, that’s true for most of what I read…).

3) This is somewhat cheating, since it’s not a novel, but Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology is a book I’ve read quite a few times. It’s a collection of poems about the fictional Midwestern town of Spoon River, as narrated by the dead in the town cemetery. Individually, it’s 244 short poems, but taken altogether, it’s a novel of sorts. It’s a theatrical, free-verse commentary on 19th and early 20th century middle America, and I’ve always enjoyed revisiting these poems every so often.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A Heinland

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

A Catskill Eagle by Robert B Parker

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