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A few days ago I wrote about my nine books for 2009, but of course I’m going to read a lot more than that this year. Thinking about reading lists got me thinking about the handful of books I’ve read more than once, the books I enjoy going back to every five years or so to see what they say to my older self. I’m thinking I’ll probably make this a rereading year for at least a few of my favoritest favorites, which I thought I would also share with you.
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. I first read this book at the impressionable age of 17, which is about the age you’re supposed to fall in love with Holden Caufield, I think. I guess you’re supposed to grow out of your Catcher in the Rye stage, but I never did. I still love it, and it kind of reminds me of being the age I was one I first read it, but in nice ways.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I don’t remember when I first read this one, or who gave me the book, but I think this was the first book that really enchanted me with the way it played with language. If you don’t know it, it’s the story of a bored kid who gets a mysterious package containing a tollbooth that takes him to the Lands Beyond, a strange, wonderful and punny place (if yo love wordplay, this book is for you). It’s a kids’ book, but it’s more than that, too. If your imagination needs a jumpstart, this is the book to do it.
The Bridge of San Louis Rey by Thorton Wilder. This one I first started reading for the first time a couple days after Septemeber 11, which made it extra profound for me (it’s about a bridge that collapses and a priest who decides he’s going to prove the existance of God by figuring out why those particular people were fated to die that day). It’s a beautiful little book that was made into a pretty rotten movie.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I’m not actually sure I own a copy of this one, and it’s not a required rereading book, but I have probably read it three or four times in my life and there’s always something new to learn from it. The movie version is not rotten, either.
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. Oh, another book I love that was made into a horrible movie! Is it just because we love the books so much that the movies are so awful? As I wrote previously, this one was introduced to me in high school, and I’ve been in love with John Irving ever since. Even his less than perfect books (Until I Find You, as a big example) are still pretty charming to me because he wrote them, but Owen Meany was my first and will probably always be my favorite. Little Owen saying “your mom has the best breasts of all the mothers” always cracks me up.
So there’s four or five more books I’ll be reading this year. How about you? Do you have favorites you go back to over and over, or are you a one-time-only reader?