Having last week discussed unfinished books, I thought I’d turn my attention to books I have re-read. I’m not even going to call them favourites, but they are books I keep coming back to time and time again.
‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen
I have lost count of how many time I have read this. It’s comforting- I know what’s going to happen- but I do find fresh insights every time I read it. Most recently, a little of the dialogue seemed a little stilted to me, but this is not to say I will not be reading it again and again. However, I avoid all the critical notes in my battered Penguin edition. I am not reading as an academic and they detract from my enjoyment.
‘Truckers’ by Terry Pratchett
In fact, anything by Terry Pratchett; but I feel I should stick to one book. In this, aimed at children but so enjoyable for adults, a tribe of nomes (sic) are living in the spaces between humans, in the countryside and in a department store. It sounds ludicrous and fanciful, and it is, but Pratchett makes it playful, logical, and deeply insightful into our world and our condition; as he does more extensively with his Discworld books. I read this many times to children. Again, I now find some of his later work less fluent and enjoyable than when I first read it; but the invention, as ever, is always entertaining.
See also “It should have been me.”
‘Stolen Journey’ by Oliver Philpot
This is one few people now will have read. It is the true story of the “Wooden Horse” escape from Germany in World War 2, written by one of the three escapees. I suppose this is again a repeat read because it is comforting; I know he always escapes. It is from my grandfather’s collection and it is precious.
‘No Highway’ by Nevile Shute
Again I could pick anything by this author. He is now deeply out of fashion, but I read him again and again because he is very strong on the virtues of common men and women, triumphing because of their humanity. I wish I could persuade others to read his work; in fact I plan a future post on him, as I do with the next author….
‘Mona Lisa Overdrive’ by William Gibson
I picked this book out of many I could choose by William Gibson because it has a great title. He is apparently the originator of cyberpunk. I reread his entire output every few years. His language use, plotting and invention are what keep me coming back. His novels repay rereading in that you start to understand just what is going on…..
‘The Village Cricket Match’ by John Parker
This is a delightful tale of…. of the village cricket match of the title. It reminds me of watching village cricket in a village much like this one in Sussex, when I was a boy. (And I went to school with the author’s son, who was eventually the captain of Sussex. And was outstanding at all sorts of sports. And Oxbridge.)
‘The Pickwick Papers’ by Charles Dickens
I like just about all Dickens, and this used to be my favourite. I used to read it when things were really bad. If I haven’t re-read it for some time, perhaps that’s because things haven’t been so bad.
As so often, by writing this post I found some new insights. I discovered that it was authors I reread, not individual novels, apart in the case of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Stolen Journey’. Of course, there are others, but Shute, Gibson and Pratchett are the writers I keep coming back to. (There is some non-fiction I re-read: ‘The Blind Watchmaker’ and others; but mostly I dip into it.)
And your choice is?