Friday, November 16, 2007

Books Revisited

While I was trawling the web looking for something to write about (other than one of the many books I have read and failed to review, because frankly I am not in the mood to review, and one must be in the mood) I found an interesting article linked from Neil Gaiman's Journal, where he quotes The Guardian, but the link isn't from The Guardian. It is from something else. The article discusses peoples' book rereading habits, and lists the top 20 revisited books in the U.K.

I was most particularly interested by this paragraph:

The research shows that well over a quarter (29%) of re-readers revisit a book at least twice, 27% three times and 12% four times. Incredibly, almost a fifth (17%) have re-read a favourite tome more than five times.

I have to say, there are a number of books I have read more than five times. And a number of them appear on the Guardian list. Those would include, in their order:

  • The Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling - I reread before each new book. I also like to listen to them in the car occasionally.
  • The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien - I used to read this about once a year. I love, love, love it. But I got a little Middle Earth'd out after the films, so I haven't read it for a couple years.
  • Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen - I've read this more times then I can count. It is something I turn to for comfort in dark times, and for joy in happy times.
  • The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien - I think I've had this read allowed to me more than 5 times. It is a family favourite.
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - Part of this is because after I read Wide Sargasso Sea and when I was in my wildly postmodernist feminist phase I wrote an essay about that very interesting woman in the attic. I also just really like Jane.
  • The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis - I'll admit it, I'm a Narnia fan - over the top religious symbolism and all.
  • Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding - it is a very fast read, and great to giggle over in the bath or on a plane.

Not appearing on their list, but appearing on mine, and off the top of my head. The likely incomplete list of an inveterate rereader:

  • All seven books in the Anne of Green Gables series, the three Emily of New Moon books, both Chronicles of Avonlea books by L.M. Montgomery - I love Anne. I love Gilbert. I love Matthew and Marilla. I love Emily. I love their worlds. They are also comfort books.
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle - Just such a perfect book in such an awesome series.
  • The rest of Jane Austen's books - She is probably my favourite writer. Her phrasing. Her humour. The beautiful simplicity of the stories. The language.
  • The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce - and maybe some of the others too, but that set for sure.
  • the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman - there really is so much new to take in each time.
  • The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse - this one because it happens to reside in my bedroom at my parents' house. So this is the one I pick up regularly while visiting. But I'd read any of them. They're about the funniest things ever. And they've provided me with some of my very favourite catchphrases.
  • Thornyhold by Mary Stewart - I adore Mary Stewart. Sadly most of her wonderful books have gone out of print. Thornyhold is another that resides in that bedroom. But I also love it. The magic of it. The cottage. I always finish it wanting to be Geilis living as an herbalist in rural England.
  • The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander - Because who can resist the crunchings and munchings, an oracular pig, and an assistant pig keeper.

I'm sure there are a number of others. Many of my books are old friends. Sitting down with them is like revisting something safe and comfortable and happy. Others do offer something new with each reread. They continue to grow and develop with me as a reader.

I have to say that in some ways I'm a little disappointed that my reading habits are so very ordinary and similar to so many others - in that I do reread all 5 of the top 5 on the articles's list. On the other hand that probably just serves to show us that those books are hugely appealing. And that is why we all reread them.


Deranged Squirrel said...

Meanwhile my re-read list includes things like The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Ha.

False Prophet said...

Back in high school I reread books all the time. Some of that was due to these multi-volume fantasy epics that took a couple of years to finish, so I'd reread the earlier books to refresh my memory until the next volume came out.

These days, there are so many books on the "to read" pile, I don't really have the time to reread anything.

MadJenny said...

DS - isn't the whole point of a reread to visit something that makes you happy? I watch the movie of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever almost every year because it is a feel good story! That's a totally respectable reread choice.

FP - I think that in every life their must be balance. My reading levels are low this year. I'm at just under 100 books. Of those, I'd say 20 are probably rereads (it was an HP year) and the other 80 are new titles. Approximately of course. But I always make time for a reread or two.