Out of all the books on your shelf, do you have that ONE copy that’s a bit more worn than all the others? You know which book I’m talking about: The cover is bent and torn, the pages are soft around the edges, and the spine was cracked a long time ago. And if anyone ever asked to borrow it, you would go out and buy them a new one, because there’s just no way you could part with your beloved copy. It's the one book you read over and over.
The thing is, some books are meant to be read once, and then placed on your bookshelf. Perhaps you’ll pick them up again years later, but you have so many other books in your TBR pile that you probably won’t re-read it for a while.
… And then there’s that one book. The one that you always seem to come back to. No matter what emotion you’re feeling, you know the book will be there for you. Feeling happy? This book will keep that going! Feeling down in the dumps? This book will lift your spirits. Missing your favorite characters? They’re all in this book.
We all have that book with a special place on our bookshelves and in our hearts. Mine is Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, a book that gets better every time I read it. So... which one is yours?
1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I'm not sure why, but I read The Great Gatsby over and over and over and over again. I think I'm about to begin my 13th time. It makes me so angry at humanity, but I love the storytelling and how F. Scott Fitzgerald points out hypocrisy without blatantly stating it.
2. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Reading it again on your own, without the added pressure of middle school teachers forcing it on you, is a whole horse of a different color. This was the book you read in school as a kid that you actually enjoyed (and likely cried about when your teacher showed the film in class). Perhaps even more appealing is that it's just short enough that when you need a little break in between books while attacking a daunting series like Outlander or Game of Thrones, I never regret picking up The Outsiders.
3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
It's covered in annotations and dog-eared pages, and it was the first work of literature that really hit me!
4. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
It reminds me of the good in the world.
5. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
It's downright hilarious — it made me laugh out loud. It's a quick read that I always take on planes. Rather than having a strict plotline, it's a collection of stories/essays, so the ending of a story isn't ruined for you, making it conducive to reading over and over again.
6. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Every time I read it, it changes. It's my favorite book. It's so full of hope and it's so funny.
7. Hinds' Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard
This is the only book I have intentionally read more than once. Reason being that each time I read it, I was at a different place in life and facing different "fears." It always makes me cry.
8. Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen
It's cliché, but I've read Pride & Prejudice over a dozen times. It's as comforting as a steaming mug of tea, but still arch and funny. Every time I'm in a used book store, I look for the Jane Austen shelf; if they have a P&P with a cool or kitschy cover, I buy it. I'm running out of space for my collection, but I can't stop. There is no such thing as having too much Mr. Darcy in your life.
9. Breakfast Of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
I have read Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions four or five times now, and every time, I love it more and more. It's one that I keep revisiting because, no matter what mood I am in or where I am in my life, there's a part of that book that can make me feel hopeful, or at the very least, make me laugh.
10. One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
The writing makes me swoon and there are so many characters that I discover a new story each time I read.
11. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
I actually make a point to read it once a year, because I always get something new out of it each time I read it. The beauty of re-reading books comes from the fact that you are a different person every time to go back to it.
12. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
I read it at least once a year. I just love the playful language. And the life lessons never cease to be universal, simple and profound.
13, 14, & 15. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
The seventh book is the book that I have reread the most ever. The sheer level of detail made it necessary to begin with and then simply because it was over and I wanted to keep reading it.
I've grown up on the Harry Potter series, and The Prisoner of Azkaban for me has all of the things that I love and attribute to the magical world: time travel, the Marauder's Map, the Knight Bus, and Hogsmeade. Harry experiences all of these things for the first time in this book, and I have always loved re-experiencing that with him. This book is also the trio's last real innocent adventure before the realness of Voldemort's return hits.
Harry Potter, hands down. I think the reason I come back to it so much is because it takes me back to my 8-year-old self when I first fell in love with reading and fantasy. Also because it is just one of the most transporting books. It can really take you out of your own head for a minute (which is true of most reading to be honest haha).
16. The Remains Of The Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
I always come back to and consistently re-read The Remains of the Day. It’s about a life almost lived, about quiet desperation. And there’s something so acutely tragic about it, that universal feeling of when our heart beats and beats for someone whose heart keeps on beating even when our own feels like it’s breaking. I reread it to remind myself to always voice my feelings no matter how much is scares me, whether I know they’re going to be reciprocated or not. Because to not voice it out of concern for all of the little things that don’t matter but I talk myself into believing are the biggest roadblocks out there? That would be the real tragedy. Stevens takes four decades to fail to declare his feelings. As a character he breaks my heart but at the same time reminds me — four decades of my life can pass me by in the blink of an eye leaving me with so much to look back on. So what the heck am I waiting for?