Ten Books By Which Ye Shall Know Me

… As of this moment.

I was re-reading The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction and the author was talking about how you would know him by the books he re-reads.

This list is based on number of re-reads, not on anything else (quality, influence, etc.).  It was hard to make!  It is in no particular order.

1.  Dune – Frank Herbert (SciFi) (my cover is cooler than this, though)

2.  Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte (Classic, Gothic)

3.  Arrows of the Queen – Mercedes Lackey (Fantasy)

4.  Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader – Anne Fadiman (Essays)

5.  Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott (Advice)

6.  Gaudy Night – Dorothy L. Sayers (Mystery)

7.  The Initiate Brother – Sean Russell (Fantasy)

8.  Going Postal – Terry Pratchett (Fantasy)

9.  A College of Magics – Caroline Stevermer (Fantasy)

10.  The Blue Sword – Robin McKinley (Fantasy)

The runner-up list had even more fantasy on it!

Does #2 have a list?

[No, but if she did it wouldn't include Dune, or Mercedes Lackey.  I'll have to check out Sean Russell-- hadn't heard of him.]  I can make an off-the-top-of-my-head list that isn’t well thought out.  Rereads are heavily populated by classics and children’s fiction.

1.  Frederica by Georgette Heyer

2.  Jane Eyre

3.  Pride and Prejudice, though honestly I haven’t been able to read it again since I took a class on Austen in college.  I think I have it memorized.

4.  Captain Blood by Raphael Sabatini (Free on kindle!  Also the movie is wonderful.)

5.  Anne of Windy Poplars (also Anne of Green Gables)

6.  A College of Magics – Caroline Stevermer, though it bugs me that my copy is still at my parents’

7.  Witch Week and The Lives of Christopher Chant (and many others, but especially the entire Chrestomanci series) by Diana Wynne Jones

8.  The Thread that Binds the Bones by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (though A Fistful of Sky is close)

9.  Another Fine Myth by Robert Asprin

10.  Spindle’s End edges out Hero and the Crown or Blue Sword for the Robin McKinley spot.  Because I’m older now.

What are your rereads?  What books should we know you by?

40 Responses to “Ten Books By Which Ye Shall Know Me”

  1. Steph Says:

    In terms of re-reads over my entire life, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire wins, hands-down. Between 4th and 8th grade I read it at least 50 times. I also reread “The World of Pooh” a lot growing up.

    Now I frequently re-read
    -Fahrenheit 451
    -Pride and Prejudice
    -Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
    -Interpreter of Maladies (Jhumpa Lahiri)
    -The Soulforge (Margaret Weis)
    -The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness (Karen Armstrong)
    -The Body Project (Joan Jacobs Blumberg)

    Flatland (Edwin Abbott Abbott) could actually also be on there, although half the re-reads have been for classes (my freshman writing class, preceptoring the same class the next year, and then another interdisciplinary math class a year later). Hmm.

  2. myscientificlife Says:

    Definitely Hero and the Crown and Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. Also The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce.

  3. plantingourpennies Says:

    Hmm… On my shelf means it’s a re-read, so here’s most of what’s on my keep shelf

    East of Eden
    The $64 tomato
    Proofs from the book
    Flatland
    Logicomix
    Emma
    Atlas shrugged
    Harry potter (all)
    Carl hiaasen (all, including children’s novels)
    Matilda

  4. Dame Eleanor Hull Says:

    Apparently I am the imaginary love-child of the two of you.

  5. rented life Says:

    That’s rough. There aren’t many books that I’ve re-read because there was so many that I have that I want to read and haven’t yet. I’ve re-read Harry Potter a few times though.

  6. Thisbe Says:

    What fun!

    My McKinley spot is taken by Beauty. I recently bought a new copy, because my old paperback copy had been read until it fell apart.

    Gaudy Night, for sure.

    Arrows of the Queen, also for sure.

    In a similar vein, Dragonsong by Anne McCaffery

    Pride and Prejudice

    For the Time Being by Annie Dillard

    Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset (Tiina Nunnally translation)

    Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenter and Seymour, an Introduction by Salinger

    The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K LeGuin

    The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

    I had to cut from the list:
    All four of the Sarah Caudwell books.
    All of Diana Gabaldon’s books
    and The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

    But those get a pretty intense amount of play from me, too.

    I re-read Spindle’s End recently and loved it again. Though I did notice that she is not that great at coherent endings. I think I just skipped the last ten pages or so.

    Something interesting that I just noticed about my list is that it is almost entirely books written by women. So are your lists!
    I think if I extended my list to “The Fifty-Two Books I Re-Read Every Single Year” there would be more male authors on it. Peter Beagle, John McPhee, William Goldman, Wendell Berry. But those are not the Books by Which I Shall Be Known!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      sooo many good books. I’ve re-read Dragonsong a lot, too, though not as much as the other listed things. (#2 probably hasn’t.) The Susan Cooper books are amazing. The Sparrow is mind-blowing and one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. (Jesuits in space!) I have Thus Was Adonis Murdered on my shelves too, and I think #2 would like it. Word up, #2!

      • Thisbe Says:

        One of my secret fiction obsessions is “monks in space” and associated works. The Sparrow (and sequel); Anathem by Neal Stephanson; A Canticle for Leibowitz; Eifelheim by Michael Flynn; and I’m sure there are others that I’m forgetting.

        It’s not clear from context – when you say you have Thus Was Adonis Murdered, do you mean that you don’t have (or haven’t read) the other three? They are sequels, and are equally amazing.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I have not read the rest of Caudwell but I probably will someday *grin*
        I liked A Canticle for Leibowitz a lot, but I had trouble with Anathem. There was an interesting story in there but unnecessarily obfuscated. Have you read Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Urth or whatever that series is called?

  7. Chelsea Says:

    Not a re-read, but a multiple re-listen on long car rides (pre-baby): Confederacy of Dunces.

    • Liz Says:

      I tried, as I tried once to read Catch-22, but I just couldn’t make it through. The insanity (inanity?) was too much for me. Similarly, haven’t been able to finish Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell – the writing style is just too much. I feel so uncultured.

  8. Foscavista Says:

    Sadly, I have no time for re-reads, so I have to offer literature courses so that I can: Don Quixote, Life is a Dream, Don Juan Tenorio, The Disenchantments of Love

  9. Debbie M Says:

    I didn’t know Captain Blood was made from a book. And a re-readable-often book. I’ll have to check it out.

    Here’s my list.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I have re-read Snow Crash and The Diamond Age multiple times, too, and we both love The Grand Sophy! (along with similar things like Frederica, Cousin Kate, Venetia, etc.) And we’re always recommending Your Money or Your Life over here. Rock on!

  10. chacha1 Says:

    I re-read a lot of books … am probably close to 50/50 on re-reading versus new reading. There are many books I have read more than ten times each, and countless books I’ve read at least twice. A representative selection, in no particular order, of the most-often-read:

    Daddy-Long-Legs (Jean Webster)
    The Whispering Mountain (Joan Aiken)
    A Wrinkle in Time
    The Black Stallion
    The Chronicles of Prydain (inclusive, once I start on them I read them all)
    Tarzan of the Apes
    Straight (Dick Francis)
    Artists in Crime (Ngaio Marsh)
    The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
    Crocodile on the Sandbank
    Die for Love
    Fox Running (R. R. Knudson)
    Big Red (Jim Kjelgaard)
    Summer Campaign (Carla Kelly)

    • Thisbe Says:

      I am re-reading The Beekeeper’s Apprentice *right now*. Ha.

      Also I just read Daddy-Long-Legs and sequel for the first time, inspired by a mention on this very blog. Not sure how I missed those as a younger person.

  11. oilandgarlic Says:

    I generally don’t re-read books but a few I will pick up again are Wuthering Heights, Gone with the Wind, and Into Thin Air.

  12. J Liedl Says:

    Hrm, my list is subject to change as I discover new books that have to be read and re-read. Nevertheless, here are some constants that lean heavily on fantasy with a bit of historical content as well:

    Pride and Prejudice (always and forever my favourite Austen, although I reread most of them regularly)
    The Riddle-Master Trilogy by Patricia McKillip (Harpist in the Wind if you made me pick one volume)
    The Armor of Light by Melissa Scott and Lisa Barnett
    The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
    A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
    Bath Tangle, The Grand Sophy Arabella or Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer (I could substitute 4-5 others, too)
    Austenland by Shannon Hale
    Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer (Getting two fab authors for the price of one!)
    Old Books and New Histories by Leslie Howsam (non-fiction & very academic but I love it!)
    What the Best College Teachers Do by Ken Bain (refreshes my teaching on a yearly basis)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      oooh interesting. I also really like those Deborah Harkness books, and Arabellla, and we love Sorcery and Cecilia of course. I actually *hated* What the Best College Teachers Do, because I thought it was wildly unrealistic if you ever wanted to do any research and/or to get tenure.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        #2 says:the semester I tried what the best teachers do was an unmitigated disaster. Should be called, what the best middle aged old white guy teachers can do but should not be attempted by cute young women.

  13. jlp Says:

    I recently began to re-read A Confederacy of Dunces, and had such a wildly different experience than the first time that I stopped midway through. Unfortunately, it has put me off re-reading any others I have fond memories of (Catch-22 was in the queue, but no longer), for fear of ruining them.

    On the other hand, I’ve read a bit of The World of Pooh to my kids, which was an absolutely delightful re-read, and picked up A Wrinkle in Time recently to see if DC1 might be ready for it (probably not), which I also enjoyed.

    Happily, however, many (but not all) of the books on your lists are new to me, so perhaps I will try one of them. (Dragonsong was a past reread, to be sure, along with many others in the series — though not for many, many years now.)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Dc1liked wrinkle in time age 6. I also read it age 6.

      • jlp Says:

        Hm, I can’t remember when I first did. DC1’s only 4.5, so maybe I’ll take a look again in a couple years and see how he feels about it.

        Right now his passion is nonfiction astronomy books, with occasional forays into fiction if they have some relationship to astronomy (he likes to skip around in the Hawkings’ George’s books, for example — all chapters having to do with interpersonal relationships are passed over, but he adores the chapters with interplanetary adventures). So I thought that it (Wrinkle) might be a good choice until I read through the first chapter and was reminded of all the interpersonal angst.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        At4 dc1 was into nonfiction and magic. We have a post somewhere about what appeals for advanced readers age 3 and 4

      • jlp Says:

        Oddly, I can’t seem to reply below, so I’ll do it up here: thanks! Will read the link. We’ve had only moderate luck with chapter books due to inappropriate themes. (DC1 was working his way through the Magic Tree House books until he got to the one about the Titanic, which scared the bejeesus out of him, and that was the end of MTH books.)

  14. delagar Says:

    By the way, jlp, around here we call that experience (re-reading an old favorite book and being horrified to find out it’s awful) a visit from the suck fairy. This is not original with us, though — Pamela Dean has the characters use the phrase in her wonderful book Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary, which I highly recommend. (Three sisters who don’t know they have magic-user parents are growing up in a small northwest US city, having a fairly normal childhood, UNTIL — )

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We have an unfinished post on books that are better as grownups because there’s an extra layer we didn’t get as kids, and books we wish we hadn’t reread. (Wrinkle in time, sadly, did not improve with age.)

    • jlp Says:

      Ha, the suck fairy.

      To be fair to CoD, it is entirely possible that the book has held up and that it’s just my sense of humor that has been visited by the suck fairy. (Er, I realize that is not the intention of that phrase, nor is the analogy really parallel, but I suspect the meaning is clear nonetheless.)

  15. Revanche Says:

    I love that my reads match about half your list, and the other half – room for discovery!
    I’m picking up Ursula Le Guin (anything will do, feel free to suggest something), Diana Wynne Jones, started some of John Scalzi, just blasted through several Diane Gabaldons.

    Old favorites: Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey, David Weber, Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett (just reading The Long Earth now. Good writing is balm for the soul).

  16. Sharing is caring: Looking for the good Says:

    […] Identity by books, Nicole & Maggie. I love books. […]


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