Monday, February 5, 2007

The Lay's Potato Chips of the Literary Set

I wrote in an e-mail to the Super Coolest Book Club, EVAH! this morning that I have read The Stand six times and The Talisman (Stephen King and Peter Straub) five times. I'm not sure why, really. I think it's probably for the same reasons people read Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe multiple times: they capture our imaginations and we find ourselves wanting to get lost in those worlds if only for the time it takes to read them.

I also included on this list The Sound and the Fury and how I have read it four times (I've also read As I Lay Dying three times, as well - what the hell is it with Faulkner? F'in stream-of-consciousness). And I qualified that by being more specific: I've read it three times normally and normally being from front to back. I've also read it once starting with the last section and moving my way backward: Dilsey, Jason, Quentin and finally Benjy. Those of you who have read it may understand the method in the madness in this approach. Most readers, when confronted with Benjy's 30-year time-tripping narrative, are instantly put off and never pick it up again. By starting with Dilsey, you can get a "top down" look at the Compsons so that each previous chapter makes more sense (and makes reading the novel a tad easier).

All this is a long way of getting to: what books have you read multiple times? I have plenty of things that I've read twice - I want to know what people have read more than that; the ones they've read so many times the spine of the book is broken.

9 comments:

Her Bad Mother said...

Italo Calvino's If On A Winter's Night A Traveller... so many times that I've lost count. A great many others that I've read countless times don't really count, as some of the re-reads were part of graduate study... among these Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, which is worth mentioning because I'll likely read it many, many more times before I die.

Great question!

Sue said...

IT and The Stand by Stephen King. Those two are the ones that jump right out at me.

Andie D. said...

I try not to re-read books too many times because I don't like to lose that sense that I can't wait to see what will happen next.

That said, I have a healthy sense of disbelief, and have re-read Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises" probably five times. I first read it in High School. Again when I was around 20. And a few times since. Each time I got something new out of it; saw it from a different perspective.

cape buffalo said...

One of the nicest things about my job is that i get to re-read the classics I should have enjoyed the first time... and I get paid for it!

I've read To Kill A Mockingbird... 10 times? (honestly, I've lost count) ditto with A Lost Lady (which I adore and see anew each time) Catcher in the Rye (feh), Romeo and Juliet annually (Romeo=pansy) Macbeth, Merchant of Venice.. you get the idea. I've read Trainspotting and I Don't Know How She Does It multiple times.

Surviving Motherhood said...

The only book I've ever read twice I think is To Kill A mockingbird. The second time I read it was with our English class at school so I'm not sure that really counts. I don't know why I haven't re-read many books, it just never occurs to me to read something that I already know the ending to I guess.

I have read Life of Pi before however and am going to try to read it again as part of this club. Actually I'm quite looking forward to it, I really enjoyed it the first time round. Umm, maybe this will start off a whole re-reading thing on my behalf. Would certainly save me some money :)

Kemp said...

Well... I've read To Kill a Mockingbird no less than 12 times. Walden about 8, Art of War about 5 and Spoon River Anthology about 15. SRA I've read that many times because I created a Reader's Theater out of it one year in college. TKAM I've read that many times because it's my favorite book and I love reading it. I usually discover or read something new when I do. Art of War because I've used it so many times while a student and as a professor. Walden... because it's a nice relaxing book that always puts my mind at ease.

And yes, I know I'm a little odd...

BabelBabe said...

Possession - AS Byatt
Roller Skates - Ruth Sawyer

Stones from the River - Ursula Hegi

arm_chair_rebel said...

The Bell Jar: Sylvia Plath
The World According to Garp: John Irving
To The Lighthouse: Virginia Woolf

Each of these meant something to me the first time i read them and at each different reading i have been at a different point in my life and they have new meaning.

I have reread the Roald Dahl kid books because i read them to my two older kids when they were young and i will probably read them aloud to my three year old twins in a couple years. they are always fun reads.

Flying Officer Blair said...

I know this is a no no in this group but I envy anyone reading Gone with the Wind for the first time. I can't even remember how many times I have read that book throughout my many years.