“Come, turn the page with me…the best is yet to be (again)” – A Special Feature on Rereading.

Today, I finished The Lord of the Rings for the second time. (The last time I completed it, I was in my fresh-faced teens.) Today, as I closed the cover, placed it back on the shelf that holds my most treasured tomes, I knew that I would read it again, and again, until my fingers turn gnarled with the passing of time.

This feature is not devoted to a review of The Lord of the Rings, however.  (That challenge I shall save for a future time.) When I began this particular reread, it occurred to me that many readers dislike (and specifically avoid) any rendezvous with books. “Why should I do that?” I remember a distant friend retorting, when I pressed the issue, as part of a lively discussion. “There are so many other books in the world to read—if I enjoyed it when I read it the first time, then that’s all well and good, but I’m not going to waste the effort to go through it again.”

In turn, I posed the simple question, “What is your favourite book to reread, and why?” to a handful of my dear colleagues and bookish comrades. I am pleased to share ten thoughtful responses, ranging from the whimsical to the wistful, to the wise, in no particular order.

The Harry Potter series ~ J.K. Rowling

The Reader: NickRAWR

The Reason: “I’ve been an avid fan of the Harry Potter series since I was a kid. There’s no doubt that some will debate its legitimacy as an amazing series, but what cannot be debated is the impact it has had on pop culture as a whole. My  obsession with the series might have something to do with nostalgia, but for the most part it’s because the world and the characters that Rowling weaves are not only believable but a joy to delve into. The fact that the series is essentially seven years long means that I basically grew up alongside these characters. Everything about the Harry Potter series feels comfortable, like an old friend. That is the reason I constantly re-read the series. That is the reason I don’t get bored of it.”

NickRAWR can always be found on the online battlefield of Call Of Duty, making music or tap-dancing to aggressive heavy metal.

{You can read Nick’s original creative writing at his personal blog, Dusty Mindroads.}

The Discovery of India ~ Jawaharlal Nehru

The Reader: Sumana @ Books with a Cup of Coffee

The Reason: “In The Discovery of India, Nehru sets out on a voyage of self-discovery and offers a penetrating analysis of his own motherland. The book, first published in 1946, prompted Albert Einstein to write to Nehru: “I have read with extreme interest your marvellous book…It gives an understanding of the glorious intellectual and spiritual tradition of …India.” India’s past, her glory, her victory, her shock, her reminiscence, her philosophy, her geography, her fate, and her everything… This is a compelling read from the man who lead India in her darkest hour; the man who was chosen by destiny to enlighten the Indians, proves himself to be an enlightened soul when it comes to knowing her. The history is nothing like a research material, as it was intended to primarily ignite curiosity in a nine year old girl to know about her motherland. At times the book seems a little bit exaggerated, but it was written to make readers passionate about India.”

I am Sumana, a stay at home mother to 2 little boys. I am from India, but living in U.S. for 10 years now and I love, love and love to read. Why? Because…

{You can read Sumana’s insightful thoughts on books at her review blog, Books with a Cup of Coffee. She’s also amenable to Facebook friendships, here.}

The War of the Worlds ~ H.G. Wells

The Reader: Rae

The Reason: “Why do I keep going back for more? The War of the Worlds was the first sci-fi book I ever read. I’ve never been into sci-fi, even as a kid, but H.G. Wells painted a picture that lived on in my young mind. Gargantuan machines sent from Mars to enslave our Earth, coupled with the rich language of the Victorians; what was not to like?! It certainly made a refreshing change from Star Wars and Star Trek! Over the years, I’ve read and re-read this tiny book and, with it, my collection of Wells’ work has grown as has my love for this early version of science fiction. Star Wars? No thanks, I’ll take dirty, great machines from Mars please!”

When she’s not being the world’s most awesome events manager, Rae spends her days writing novels set in a Victorian world of sex, drugs and heavy metal.

{You can reach out to Rae, by befriending her on Facebook, here.}

Summer and Smoke ~ Tennessee Williams

The Reader: Pixxy

The Reason: “In high school (a long time ago!), I fell in love with Tennessee Williams’ works. It first started with buying The Glass Menagerie for my literature class. After reading it, I thought to myself that I had to have more! This desire led me to the very dear to my heart play, Summer and Smoke. My emotions and part of me became attached to that play; it felt like if the character Alma and I were feeling the same sort of self conflict at the same time, if that even makes sense. The main characters are Alma (who is my favourite) and Dr. John. Her angelic character of almost suffocating and debilitating purity is in love with the scandalous, drunkard, broken but almost fixable and redeemable Dr. John. One of the main reasons this play is irresistible is that people love this sort of love story; the characters are flawed but love each other so there is a possibility of ending in bliss, or their flaws can lead to utter destruction.”

Pixxy is a kind soul that devours dark chocolate, sips tea, loves pixies, gnomes and music.

The Complete Book of Marvels ~ Richard Halliburton

The Reader: Books, Personally

The Reason: “This was the book I came back to over and over as a child. I believe it was my father’s book when he was a child. Richard Halliburton was a world traveler back in the earlier half of the 1900’s, when travel was not so easy or so commonplace. His adventures took him to every exotic corner of the world, from which he compiled his travel stories and photographs. From the mountainous Tibet, where he met the Dalai Lama (then a child!), to the secret city Petra carved out of stone, to the ruins of Angkor Wat to the pyramids of Egypt, the places in this book so captured my imagination, I never tired of reading it. The book was quite old already when I came to love it, and by the end it was barely held together with tape.”

Jennifer of Books, Personally is a mom, avid reader, and blogger. Oh, and traveller, both in person and in armchair.

{You can read Jennifer’s thoughts on books of all sorts at her review blog, Books Personally. You can also follow her on Twitter, here.}

Ender’s Game ~ Orson Scott Card

The Reader: K @ Baffled Books

The Reason: “This is the first book I had to read for school and actually enjoyed enough to read it again. In those days I didn’t read very much, and the mere idea of having to read something for school automatically negated any chance of me ever actually enjoying it. However, I did enjoy reading it…I would like to say it is because I could relate to the main character, Ender Wiggins…but I’m no boy genius, and if an alien race called ‘the buggers’ had any designs on world destruction and they needed a brilliant strategist…I would certainly be the last person they would call. I think I enjoyed it because I was just a kid reading about another kid and I’m still that kid…just a bit taller with some facial hair…”

K is a Literature major who is looking that perfect job where all he does is read…which he does anyways!

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy ~ Douglas Adams

The Reader: Lisa @ Baffled Books

The Reason: “This is one of my all time favourite books. I don’t usually re-read books, and if I do, never too often, but this is one book that I always come back to! It’s the book I read when I can’t get into anything else and the audiobook I listen to if I can’t sleep. “Why?” you ask? Douglas Adams writes in such a friendly and outright silly style that never makes me fail to giggle (or snort inappropriately). His characters are sweetly dysfunctional and get themselves into the most ridiculous situations. Adams’ writing is so perfect and absorbing that I never stop to question some things that wouldn’t have made any sense in any other book: How on earth did we get onto this spaceship? Who knows! But something entertaining is going to happen next and no matter how many times I’ve read it and despite the fact that I know exactly what’s going to happen next, I can’t stop myself from laughing when it does happen! He even sneaks some very interesting philosophical questions in there. For example: Why do we do the things we do? Because the Earth was destroyed of course! I love this book, and the rest of the series, and it is the only book I ever come back to like this!”

Lisa has a very busy life trying to study philosophy and read enough to satisfy the cravings while six cats have a very busy life trying to stop her.

{K and Lisa co-engineer the eclectic book review blog, Baffled Books. You can also keep up with Baffled Books on their official Facebook fan page, as well as Lisa’s Twitter, here.}

The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Reader: Liza

The Reason: “I first read The Little Prince in my seventh-grade French class in high school, and I have loved it ever since.  Most books intended for children are often overlooked as being unsophisticated.  However, this book not only presents social commentary on the absurdities of the adult world, it does so in plain and simple language.  And, in my opinion, a person or text that simplifies abstract concepts is more worthy than one that complicates.

The descriptions of the adults are silly and comical, but not written with malice or cruelty.  More like the honest reflections of a child observing something he doesn’t understand.  Whenever I need a little rest from the absurdities I see around me, and need to renew my faith in humanity, I pick up this book, and remember these words: “On ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur. L’essential est invisible pour les yeux” (“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.”)

Liza Kane is a full time reader, writer and dreamer, though she pays the bills as a store manager.  She shares her writing journey on her blog, Redeeming the Time and on Twitter, here.

What It Is ~ Lynda Barry

The Reader: Almah the Alchemist

The Reason: “I keep coming back to this book for more because I never really leave. I wander into a thicket of images and get caught in a tanglescape of memories. This densely, intensely illustrated creative guidebook shows and tells, every page a well. Through constellations of collage Barry offers a map for “writing the unthinkable.” She offers such lush permission to write, dream, remember, draw. But she does so elliptically, impishly. What it Is manages to be an irresistible invitation to create and a stirring meditation on the slippery, fugitive nature of what is.

Almah the Alchemist enjoys color, and is the director of the Institute of Imaginary Books. Friend her on Facebook, here, to receive the spectral book catalog!

Great Expectations ~ Charles Dickens

The Reader: Andre Bagoo

The Reason: “I come back to this for its opening sentences: “My father’s family name being Pirrip, and my christian name Phillip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit that Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.” In other words the protagonist is in a battle between forging his own destiny and fate: between naming himself and being named. A few lines later we learn that the “father” of the first sentence is dead and just as his name has been cut short—both advertently by others and inadvertently by himself—so much of Pip’s life has also been cut short of prospect, of opportunity, of expectation. This is a miraculous opening for a miraculous book. While Great Expectations is heavy-handed, perhaps, in some of its symbolism, its miracle remains the fact that every single line Dickens wrote in it is pregnant with possibility. Whenever I go back I always see more.”

Andre Bagoo is a journalist and blogger with a crush on Foucault.

{You can – and should – follow Andre’s blog, ::: P L E A S U R E :::, here.}

My friends and rereading allies have made a brilliant case for novel and reader reunitings, so I will add only that it has been a pleasure to unearth a treasure trove of new and familiar titles through their eyes. Merry reading (and rereading) trails, to all.

15 thoughts on ““Come, turn the page with me…the best is yet to be (again)” – A Special Feature on Rereading.

  1. Brilliantly written by all involved. For me, rereads are like visiting old friends that I haven’t seen in awhile. While we “talk”, I remember why we were friends in the first place. And I look forward to our next meeting. Because as I change, my understanding of these friends change. I find out new things in the form of bits I’d missed. I understand more about my friend through the changes in my own life.

    I could no more read a favorite book only once than I could cut off a friend because I’d already spent time with them.

    Oh, and my favorite rereads? Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong, Harry Potter series by JK Rowling and A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. Now why they are some of my favorites… that would take a lot longer to write and I have a 5 year old begging for the computer. 🙂


    1. Amber, I love your analogy of rereading as akin to visitations with old friends, and I agree with you wholeheartedly!

      I’m planning another themed issue devoted to rereads, which I expect I’ll feature in April, so if you’re interested in contributing, let me know, and I’ll send you an e-mail with some more information. 🙂 It would be a pleasure to feature your thoughts on either ‘A Prayer for Owen Meany’ (which I’ve heard about, but not yet read) or the ‘Women of the Otherworld’ series (of which, I confess, I’ve not heard until now!)


  2. Great post! I have a few favourite rereads that I get to every 2 years or so – Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books and Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time Series. There are some others that I go back to time and again. It’s like catching up with old friends and I feel the excitement almost like I’m reading it for the first time!


    1. Thank you for reading! 🙂 I’ve been meaning to get my teeth into the Discworld series. Would you recommend beginning the series chronologically, or just jumping into the fray with whichever book catches my eye?

      (Also, if you’d be interested in contributing to a future issue on rereads, then do let me know 🙂 I would be thrilled to include your insight!)


      1. I’d love to contribute to a future issue! Let me know details.
        Discworld – you can really start anywhere. See what catches your fancy – stories about the witches, wizards, Death (not as morbid as it sounds) or one of the others. And your question gave me an idea for a post!


  3. Sumana

    Thanks Shivanee, for hosting such an wonderful event and your introduction is so well written.
    I am so glad I joined and came to know about some great reads that went into my TBR pile and not to mention got to check out a few good blogs along the way.


  4. Thanks for having us! There are so many great books up there and I’m definitely going to have to do some blog investigating! The Lord of the Rings is a series I like to flip through from time to time but I’ve never actually fully reread them, maybe I will have to now. 😀


    1. It was my pleasure to feature both your thoughts as well as K’s, Lisa! I look forward to collaborating with the pair of you in the future, on guest reviews, special features, and any bookish goodness we can cook up. Also, yes, doooo read ‘Lord of the Rings’! The writing style definitely isn’t for everyone, but I am not ashamed to say that the book changed my life…and probably will every time I read it anew.


  5. Pingback: » Roundup! BaffledBooks

    1. Thank you, Zohar! I’m hoping that you’ll want to be involved in future special features here at Novel Niche — I’d be beyond pleased to collaborate creatively with you, just as I was thrilled to be featured on BDCWB’s book blog list with you, and other brilliant review sites.
      Like I mentioned to Lisa of Baffled Books a comment earlier, ‘Lord of the Rings’ really isn’t for everyone, stylistically, and that’s not meant as a pejorative reflection on your reading tastes, at all. I hope that whatever you’re reading currently is really holding your interest!


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