Friday, June 05, 2009

Old Friends on My Bookshelf

What are the books that you pay repeat visits to?

Last night, I was perusing our upstairs "library," trying to decide what novel I wanted to read. I have several new ones, given to me by friends during this past year. But ... no, not right now. It is the start of summer. My children had their last day of school and we did our traditional dance in the living room to -- of course -- Alice Cooper's School's Out.

There is nothing like the joy on a school child's face when they shout, "School's! Been Blown! To Pieces!!!"

It is summer and I didn't really get a summer last year. I want to travel to a well-familiar place, not somewhere new. Ah. "Dandelion Wine." I plucked it from the shelf.

The novel had been in the back of my mind ever since Jots and I discussed the book for about half an hour before we realized we were talking about two different books. (Jots, I still don't know what the hell you were talking about, Ray Bradbury doesn't have any other books with "Dandelion" in the title that I can find.)

Dandelion Wine is not Bradbury's usual sci-fi genre. If you miss the thrill of summer, I recommend it.

How many times have I read it? Gosh, at least a dozen. It is warm and familiar, and yet every time, I get something new out of it.

My other book like that is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which I have probably reread even more times than Dandelion Wine. Dandelion Wine affects how I see things, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn helped form me, it shaped my values.

What are the books that you return to, again and again? And why? I want to know. They might be the next things I read.

8 comments:

Chalicechick said...

I've read everything Robertson Davies has written multiple times. I'd start with the Salterton Trilogy. They only get more complicated from there.

CC

Jess said...

My "classic" go-to is _To Kill a Mockingbird_ because Scout is my freakin' hero. But other books that I read again and again because I love their characters and worlds are Juliet Marillier's "Sevenwaters" and "Bridei" series on the heavier side and anything by Christopher Moore on the lighter side. Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books are comfy, too -- plot-driven mind candy.

patrickmurfin said...

My stack of unread must read books is too high and my schedule to crammed. But some books I have read more than once and would read again in a heat beat if I could:

Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
The Once and Future King by T.H. White
Almost anything by Mark Twain
Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe
The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck
The Devil’s Disciple by George Bernard Shaw
Attorney for the Damned b Arthur Weinberg
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger
Sandberg’s Lincoln biographies
The Autobiography of Mother Jones by Mary Harris Jones
The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters
The USA Trilogy by John Dos Passos
Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guinn

These are books, none of them new, few of them non-fiction, which I first read many years ago—some before I could shave—and each of which changed me utterly.

ccr in MA said...

I could give you dozens, as I am a confirmed re-reader. One classic I frequently go back to is Captains Courageous, by Kipling. Right now, I'm re-reading (for the umpteenth time) Greenwillow, a lovely novel by BJ Chute. Happy reading!

Elizabeth said...

My Dad loves Dandelion Wine too, LE. Somehow I never got to it. Perhaps this summer.

For me:
To Kill a Mockingbird (like Jess) Harper Lee
The Color Purple Alice Walker
Texasville Larry McMurtry
The Prince of Tides Pat Conroy

I read them all when I was way too young to read such books and get them and appreciate them, but somehow I loved SOMETHING about them and reread them year after year and loved them more each time. I think part of the reason I love them is because they were all part of me understanding the world I live in (although Texasville is mostly just HILARIOUS) and coming into being as a teenager and then adult and understanding the world better - in all its beauty and tragedy and magic.

Runners up: Peace Like a River, Plain Song, Evensong all ready later on in life....

The Eclectic Cleric said...

My stack of unread books is also way too high, and I keep contributing to it more quickly than I can read them anyway. And they STILL have to compete with the things I love to return to again and again and again.

So, The Wind in the Willows is always good, but Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea books are the one's I REALLY love. Love in the Time of Cholera, Lonesome Dove, Swallows & Amazons plus any of Ransome's other Lake District novels. Patrick O'Brien is another of my favorites, and how can I possible leave out the Bible (which I find myself returning too again and again).

Anything by Annie Dillard, but especially Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and Teaching a Stone to Talk. The Writer's Life basically duplicates the workshop I took with her as a graduate student in 1982, and I return to it whenever I find myself growing lazy in my own writing.

Huckleberry Finn, Walden (again and again and again) plus Emerson's Essays, and poetry of all types, from Whitman, Dickinson, Eliot, and Frost to Mary Oliver and Billy Collins and a lot of stuff in between. Oh, and let's not forget Joshua Slocum's Sailing Alone Around the World

Heck, with old familiar friends like these, why would I EVER want to buy another new book? (LOL so hard I can hardly keep from peeing in my pants...)

Aimee said...

The Fifth Sacred thing by Starhawk
The Moon Under Her Feet by Klista Kinstler
Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card (the sequels are also worth reading as well, these first two are profound and entertaining)
Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead Spears
Don't let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
The Spiral Dance by Starhawk
Big Christianity by Jan G. Linn
Animal, Vegetable and Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
A Year of Living Biblicaly by A.J. Jacobs

And a bunch of other ones that I can't remember without looking on my many bookshelves which are in another room.

I have reviewed the last three on this list on my blog. They were all very thought provoking and the last two were very entertaining I've only read those last two once each, but plan to read over and over. Big Christianity, I've read once all the way through but keep going back to it to look up things that it talked about, so probably 1 and a half times, with some parts more than twice.

The Fifth Sacred Thing is one that I've read probably 5 or 6 times. Every two or three years...so it's probably about time right now again. Same with Ender's Game.

All of these are ones that I've recommended to people over and over. I've even bought extra copies to give or loan out of: Fifth Sacred Thing, Moon Under Her Feet, Big Christianity, Spiral Dance, Enders Game and Speaker for the Dead.

Diane Meier said...

Maybe I'm not a "typical" UU member, (what does "typical" mean in a UU church, anyhow? haha) but I've just blogged about the book that shook me, transformed me, and transported me to a place between this world and the next. But, don't read my blog unless you're ready to find out who you really, really are.
http://spectrumofbeliefs.blogspot.com
Thank you for being a favorite blogger of mine! Blessings!