Repeat Reads

Some books are a one-time shot. Once the magic has been spent, there is none left.

Then there are the lovely re-reads that keep on giving. Here are a couple of those I keep in my library:

  • The Phantom Tollbooth. This is one of my Desert Island books — you know, the one you'd want with you were you stranded on a desert island. I watched the television show when I was a child and stumbled upon the book during my first week at college. I've never been the same since. It's a book written on so many levels. It is classified as a children's book, but I assure you, it's a delight for readers at any age. Milo is bored, so he takes a trip to a fantastic land and makes a discovery that I've found to be true time and again. Every time I read it, I find something else wonderful and new.

  • Good Omens. Rarely have I laughed this hard and this long. Every person to whom I have recommended this also has laughed aloud. In fact, one friend said he wanted to read the funny stuff to his wife and, well, found himself reading the entire thing aloud to her. What happens when the end of the world is nigh because an angel and a demon kind of lost the spawn of Satan? Bonus: it's written by two of my favorite authors: Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

  • The Spoils of Time: The Lytton Trilogy. To be fair, the first book is my only re-read of this trilogy, but I look forward to subsequent re-reads of all three novels. The books are hefty, but worth the read. Penny Vincenzi knows how to write scandal and suspense, romance and tragedy. Celia Lytton is determined to marry Oliver, and her life is never the same — nor is the British (and, ultimately, American) publishing worlds the same. The story spans more than half a century, and it's breathtaking and sweeping and yet personal and tender. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder aloud to your friends (who must also read the books) how these characters can do what they're doing.

  • Lord of the Rings. I re-read these hefty tomes every year before the movies came out. I have re-read them every couple of years since. It's not the easiest read, and I have to admit I found it easier to imagine what was going on after watching Peter Jackson's vision of it. However, Tolkien is Tolkien, and his magic is more than legendary: it's sweeping and timeless.

  • The Moon is Always Female. Marge Piercy is accessible and yet still mysterious. I get her poems, but in every re-read there's more to discover. And yet reading the same images are a comfort and still powerful year after year. When I read Piercy, I suspect I might have a clue.
What will you read over and over — and why?

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