Old reliable

Others are discussing their favorite re-reads, and I’d like to chime in. I used to re-read books more often than I do now — I’ve accumulated a stack of waiting-to-be-reads. Plus, there are so many movies in my NetFlix queue. (I won’t even go into the movies I’d like to view again.) And then there’s the boundless Inkburns slush pile: I have difficulty justifying sitting down to a couple hours of pleasure reading when I know how many writers await my response. (All the same, I need to keep current with the state of the art, don’t I?)

(More after the link, plus thanks to Syntax of Things for the lead into everyone’s lists.)

Nonetheless, I do re-read certain books, and here are the ones that spring to mind, in the order that they spring:

A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway
A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace (certain essays only)
Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, DFW (certain stories, notably the diving one, the famous author by the pool, and “Octet”)
Naked, David Sedaris
Bird By Bird, Anne Lamott (which is, interestingly, the only Anne Lamott I’ve ever read)
All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren
James Thurber short stories
Robert Benchley, anything by
A Separate Peace, John Knowles
Fight Club, Chuck Palahniak
High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
Motherless Brooklyn, Jonathan Lethem
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson
Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkein (revealing my geeky roots)

The criterion for this list is that I have read each item at least three times in my recollection. Some I’ve read more: I think I’ve read All the King’s Men five times. (Does five count as a lot? It’s a long book, but then again some people re-read favorite books once per year, every year. I wouldn’t like that, because I want to give myself time to grow between readings, to view the book with new eyes, see elements that escaped me previously.)

Of course I’m forgetting some books: I’m looking at my current bookcase to remember what’s what, and it’s weighted heavily to things I’ve read since moving to this house. Which makes me want to reorganize everything and see what I’ve never unpacked (soon to happen anyway! thanks to the miracle of home improvement, as described previously on this site).

Other books to which I refer, when I’m stuck on a bit of writing or want to remember how writing is properly done, include the above plus:

Sam the Cat and Other Stories, Matthew Klam
Julian Barnes, anything by
sections of Infinite Jest, DFW (My three key passages: the opening (“I am in here.”), the face in the floor, and the Irish guy at AA talking about having his first solid bowel movement in memory. And may I point out how hard it is to find a desired key passage in a 1000+ page book in which events happen in an unclear order?)
Elmore Leonard, anything by (I think his dialogue is unbeatable, as is his ability to describe people through others’ eyes, and to capture the electricity between individuals.)
Raymond Chandler, all of
Birds of America, Lorrie Moore