The 15 Most Popular Re-Read Books, According To Goodreads
Re-reading can be a bit of a controversial topic among book-lovers. Some people seem to think that you haven't really read a book at all until you've read it at least twice. Others consider re-reading to be a waste of time—why read the same book again when there are so many new books out there? Personally, I've always felt that you get something new out of a book each time you re-read it. Maybe it's because I grew up as part of the Harry Potter generation, or because I used to read a random chapter of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn every single night before bed, but re-reading beloved books is just about my favorite way to relax (and, coincidentally, the reason that my bookshelf is an overstuffed nightmare). Here are a few of the most frequently re-read books in the literary canon, according to the "Popular to Reread Books" shelf on Goodreads.
Some of these books are childhood favorites that get read and re-read until their spines disintegrate entirely. Others seem to be books we all read back in high school or middle school; books we're now finally mature enough to truly understand (or which are upsettingly relevant in the year 2018). Whatever the reason, people can't get enough of these classic works of fiction:
1. 'The Great Gatsby' by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I'm honestly a little surprised to see Gatsby topping this list. I mean yes, sure, it's absolutely one of the "Great American Novels" or whatever. And yes, it has inspired many, many swinging theme parties (most of which seem to miss the point that Fitzgerald was trying to make, but I won't turn my nose up at flapper dresses and champagne). But The Great Gatsby wouldn't be my first thought for a cozy, nostalgic re-read, unless you're comforted by the total disintegration of the American Dream. Although... I guess watching a sad rich boy destroy himself is still quite appealing.
2. 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee
As far as re-reading books, To Kill a Mockingbird is the perfect storm: we all read it in school, it has the nostalgic air of childhood about it, it introduced a lot of us to ideas about systemic injustice, and it's still very relevant in America today though I think we can all agree it's time to move past the white savior narrative. We might not have the same uncritical admiration for Atticus Finch reading the book now, but Lee's first novel still packs a punch.
3. 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' by J.K. Rowling
Of course. Harry Potter is a bestseller several hundred times over, and most true fans have read the series two, or three, or ten times all the way through. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is the book that started it all, as well as the least complicated, most adorable book in the series.
4. '1984' by George Orwell
Yeah, it's no secret that 1984 is back on the bestseller's list. It rocketed up 9,500 percent in sales following Trump's inauguration. So I think it's safe to say that this is less of a cuddly, whimsical re-read, and more a politically motivated attempt to make sense of this administration's Orwellian tactics.
5. 'The Catcher in the Rye' by J.D. Salinger
Honestly, I'm glad that someone out there is re-reading The Catcher in the Rye. It just gets so much hate. I'm going to go on the public record and say that I liked Holden Caulfield when I read this book in ninth grade. He was a whiny brat, yes, but so was I, and I imagine that many other angsty teens felt similarly. Clearly, some of those teens are coming back to an old favorite as angsty adults.
6. Every Other Harry Potter Book
OK, if I listed the rest of the Harry Potter series book by book, we'd be here all night. So I'm just going to say that the next six most re-read books are all Potter all the time. The order is as follows: Deathly Hallows, Half-Blood Prince, Goblet of Fire, Prisoner of Azkaban, Order of the Phoenix, and last but not least, Chamber of Secrets. Not shocked that Chamber of Secrets is bringing up the rear, but Order of the Phoenix needs way more love. Angry teen Harry is the best Harry, hands down.
7. 'The Hobbit' by J.R.R. Tolkien
Not very controversial opinion: The Hobbit is Tolkien's best book. I'm sure there are plenty of people re-reading The Lord of the Rings proper, but The Hobbit is just much faster and a lot more fun (sorry, Frodo). The Hobbit is less of a grand, mytho-poetic epic, and more of a kids' adventure story featuring a lot of dwarves with silly names, and it's delightful.
8. 'Fahrenheit 451' by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451 is only just behind 1984 when it comes to famous sci-fi dystopias. Perhaps Fahrenheit 451 is slightly closer to home for book-lovers, though, since it deals with a world in which all books are burned. Bradbury's vision of a society enslaved by mass media, drugs, and enforced conformity is also pretty dang prophetic.
9. 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen
I'm shocked that Pride and Prejudice isn't higher on this list. Shocked. It's Pride and Prejudice, people! The original rom-com! The awkward, sassy, slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers plot that all great love stories since have attempted to emulate! It's somehow both intensely passionate and entirely calming (like a very strong cup of tea), and it makes for an excellent re-read.
10. 'Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley
Brave New World often gets lumped in with 1984, but the two books actually address two very different (very relevant) aspects of society: 1984 is about a totalitarian regime that warps reality by controlling people's perception. Brave New World is about capitalism and the alluring dangers of consumer culture. They're both worth a re-read in 2018 America.
11. 'A Wrinkle in Time' by Madeleine L'Engle
Just thinking about A Wrinkle in Time makes me want to cry tears of joy and gratitude (and also do math?). This is one of the only books I can remember from my childhood that had an awkward, angry, math-loving girl as a protagonist for a thrilling space adventure. It still holds up as a weird, lovely, philosophically charged masterpiece of science fiction.
12. 'Animal Farm' by George Orwell
I think I'm still a little messed up from watching both the cartoon and the live action Animal Farm movies in sixth grade. Regardless, this is another dystopia (kind of), but with some not-so cuddly animals instead of humans. Like 1984, its political relevance seems to be timeless, reminding us that totalitarian regimes can rise out of the most righteous intentions.
13. 'The Giver' by Lois Lowry
A childhood classic, a middle school read, and a chilling dystopian future? Yes. Please. I remember everyone in our class loving The Giver, even the kids who usually didn't want to do the school reading. It's just the ideal blend of hyper-conformist, murderous suburban hellscape and fun YA adventure novel. Definitely a good candidate for re-reading.
14. 'The Book Thief' by Markus Zusak
This is the most recently published book to snag a spot this high on the "Re-read" list, so kudos to The Book Thief. I suppose this is another sort of dystopia novel, except the dystopia in question is not a pig farm or the distant future, but the reality of Nazi Germany. The Book Thief may be narrated by Death, but the narrative itself manages to balance sheer horror with small victories of the everyday.
15. 'Lord of the Flies' by William Golding
I think Lord of the Flies sums up the entirety of this list pretty neatly: people like to re-read books about childhood and books about violent dystopian nightmares. Lord of the Flies most certainly has both of those things, as well as a blatant critique of British colonialism and toxic masculinity. And if you didn't notice those last two things the first time you read it... I guess it's time to read it again.