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favorite books

May 18 2012

Are You Well Re-read?

by Jimmy L

Some people re-read their favorite books every few years. I, however, am not one of those people.  I almost never re-read books because there are so many books out there I still haven’t read yet that I get a little panicked thinking about spending time with a book I’ve already read.

Still, there are definite benefits to re-reading, and many smart people have disagreed with me by making a case for re-reading. Vladimir Nabokov, for instance, famously said “One cannot read a book: one can only reread it,” implying that the first time through is only a preparation for the true pleasures of re-reading. Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall, says a “good book is never the same twice. Rereading is a pleasure and duty of middle age, and illuminating, even if it only sheds light on how you yourself have changed.”

The Prime of Miss Jean BrodieIn this Guardian article, she tells us that she recently re-read Evelyn Waugh‘s Sword of Honour trilogy. The article also has thoughts from many other authors. For example, Ian Rankin likes to re-read Bleak House and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. John Banville says “each time we revisit [a favorite classic,] we see more clearly the cogs and flywheels of the writer’s technique behind what at first had been its opaque and burnished surface.” As an example, he cites The Great Gatsby. The article contains opinions about re-reading from many other authors, but if that’s not enough for you, The Millions has published a follow up article with still more opinions.

Do you like to re-read books? What are the pleasures of re-reading? Which books do you return to again and again and why?

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Dec 21 2011

2011 Favorites

by Joseph M

As this will be my last post in 2011, I thought it would be appropriate to take a look back and mention some of the books that I enjoyed this year.

I may have mentioned before that I keep a book list, which tracks all the books I read over the course of a year.  I don’t include magazines, newspapers, or blogs, but I do count audiobooks and graphic novels.  After I finish each book I try to include a little blurb describing how I felt about the reading experience.  Looking back over my list for 2011, I’m a bit hard-pressed to decide on a single favorite; I read a lot of good stuff!  Even so, I’ll try to limit myself to just a handful of worthies to namedrop.

First off, I read a great short story collection entitled Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories by Lauren Groff.  It was recommended by a friend and did not disappoint.  In fact, it is one of the best short story collections I’ve ever read by a single author.  As it happens, I’m currently reading another short story collection, Karen Russell’s St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, which is also quite good.

I read several great nonfiction works, but the one that really stands out is Just Kids, Patti Smith’s memoir about her time with Robert Mapplethorpe in New York City during the late 60s and early 70s.

I eagerly devoured A Dance With Dragons, the latest installment of George R. R. Martin’s masterful fantasy epic Song of Ice & Fire.  I can hardly wait for the next one!

Later in the year I finally took the advice of the many people who had been recommending it and read The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins’ gripping work about a dystopian future.  I really enjoyed it and will definitely be checking out the other two books in the trilogy.

Finally, I have to talk about the Scott Pilgrim series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, one of the best graphic novels I’ve read in a long time.  I saw the movie and really liked it, so I figured I would probably like the comic it was adapted from as well.  I was not wrong!  Luckily, DCPL has all six awesome volumes.

Was there a particular book, movie, or CD that you enjoyed this year which deserves mention?  I’ll happily take recommendations for 2012!

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