Sunday, November 11, 2007

Re-Reading Favorite Books

The British newpaper, The Guardian, had an interesting article on Friday.

The story quoted a survey that indicated 77% of readers in the UK revisit books they've read before. And the research suggests that respondents re-read their favorite books over and over. Seventeen percentage of the people responding said that they've read their favorite book more than five times.

"The survey also gives a positive spin on readers' reasons for re-reading, with 59% returning because they never tire of their favourite and 34% finding something new with each re-reading. Only eight per cent suggest that they return because they haven't read anything as good."

Here's a copy of the list of the UK's top 20 revisited reads

1. The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

2. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

3. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

4. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

6. 1984 by George Orwell

7. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

8. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis

9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

10. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

11. Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

12. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee

13. Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews

14. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

15. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

16. The Bible

17. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

18. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

19. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

20. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

I would certainly be counted among those who re-read favorite books, and I have a long list of books I've read more than five times. Among those books are two from the above list: Jane Eyre and To Kill a Mockingbird.

I'm not including the Bible because I don't think I've ever read it from cover to cover the way I would a novel. There are certainly sections I return to again and again--especially Psalms, the Song of Solomon and the New Testament--but there are other sections I've only read once--Numbers leaps to mind.

Among my other favorites are The Fountainhead, the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, the Dorothy Sayers mysteries, and single titles by Pat Conroy (Prince of Tides), Jodi Picoult (Keeping Faith), Robert B. Parker (Double Deuce) and Laurell K. Hamilton (Obsidian Butterfly). I like to read aloud Pablo Neruda's poetry, The Merchant of Venice and Romeo and Juliet.

How about you? Do you have favorites you re-read again and again?


Stephen Parrish said...

The Fountainhead is on my list too.

So is the controversial The Education of Little Tree. Others include more obscure titles, including a couple of favorite YAs from a better time. (Oh, Black Beauty is one of those.)

Maya Reynolds said...

Stephen: Thanks. You reminded me. I have a couple of YAs on my list, too, and a volume of verse by Ogden Nash.

Alex said...

I re-read "Heart of Darkness" every couple of years, and work my way through Raymond Chandler's novels and Lovecraft's short stories. And Robert B. Parker's "Ceremony" is on my short list of re-reads as well.

Maya Reynolds said...

Alex: I love the Chandler books, too.

Parker's books are almost a graduate course in writing dialogue.

Heather B. Moore said...

It does make sense to read a favorite book again. It seems you aren't impatient to see how it all ends, so you can really enjoy the journey.

I have read several of Jane Austen's books twice. And the Bible several times, of course.

I've also reread some classics like East of Eden, etc.