The 5 Books I’ve Reread the Most

In an ideal world, I would reread all of the books I consumed during my formative years in high school. I’d find new layers and previously undiscovered insights and marvel at just how much I’ve grown intellectually. The only problem—and as far as problems go this is a nice one to have—is there are just too many good books out there! Since my brain is permanently stuck on the “scatter” setting, I’m currently in the middle of reading four different books—all of which I ignored last week because something titled Sharknado was on television. Sharks and tornadoes? Together?! Take the night off, Hemingway, because I need to see how this situation out.

I do spend some precious time rereading, though; here are the five books I’ve returned to again and again.

5. Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, by Tom Shales & James Andrew Miller (three times). I love devouring a compelling oral history book. It’s like sneaking a peak at a more interesting person’s high school yearbook. The fact that I read this detailed history of Saturday Night Live three times might not seem too impressive, but this comprehensive history weighs in at just under 600 pages of tantalizing late night gossip. It’s also a great reference source. Its conversational tone and unintimidating, abbreviated storytelling structure lends itself to spontaneous reading sessions when you merely set out to find out the joke that instigated the David Spade/Eddie Murphy feud.

4. Killing Yourself to Live, by Chuck Klosterman (four times). On the surface, this Klosterman classic should be nowhere near my top five most read books. A nonfiction story that’s ostensibly about a “famous deaths of rock ‘n roll road trip” doesn’t seem particularly interesting to someone who once—and possibly still—believed that a conversation regarding musical supremacy must include the words Counting, Gin, and Matchbox, but Killing Yourself to Live is more about the journey and less about the destination. Hidden within the morbid hook is a thought-provoking tale about people, love, and our expectations regarding both. If you’re someone who has an old shoebox full of movie stubs and summer camp letters buried deep in your closet, chances are you’ll appreciate the nostalgic nature of Killing Yourself to Live.

3. My Custom Van, by Michael Ian Black (four times).

My Custom Van isn’t my favorite Michael Ian Black book—that would be his equal parts touching and hilarious memoir You’re Not Doing it Rightbut it is one of the smartest collection of comedic essays ever assembled. Plus, books containing a multitude of small, humorous stories are ideal companions for both the busy professional on the go and the man who loves to nap! With titles like, “What I Would Be Thinking If I Were Billy Joel Driving to a Holiday Party Where I Knew There Was Going to Be a Piano” and “Vampires—Good for the Economy?” this eclectic collection of clever setups and witty musings contains laugh out loud passages for everyone, no matter how offbeat your comedic proclivities may be.

2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger (six times).

While this J.D. Salinger classic is a personal favorite of mine, I probably wouldn’t have read it as many times as I have if it weren’t the only book left in my childhood bedroom. Every year, after I invariably finish whatever book I brought home over Christmas break, I’m left with the choice between Holden Caulfield and my 7th grade journal. It’s entertaining to revisit my youthful confusion about women and the difference between “there” and “their,” but Caulfield’s adventures in New York City usually wins out.

1. The Winter of Our Discontent, by John Steinbeck (eight times).

The story of how a person discovers his favorite book should be a magical one. Maybe it was a gift from a high school sweetheart or a mentor. The point is, it should be a tale worthy of the significance of the book. I am both horrifically embarrassed and surprisingly amused by the fact that I discovered my favorite book by watching Chad Michael Murray squint his way through the angst-ridden tribulations of life, love, and basketball on One Tree Hill. My copy of The Winter of Our Discontent looks the way I feel when someone walks in on me watching One Tree Hill–tethered, with the cover (my dignity) barely hanging on by a thread.

What are some of your favorite books to reread?

  • Michelle Brandley

    I have read Blindness by Jose Saramago three times and I still find myself wanting to read it again. After finishing a book I will have a mini-debate of which book to read next and I will always go to Blindness first. The only reason I haven’t read it 20 times is because I feel bad for the other books that have piled up in my “to read” pile.

  • tullers

    Honestly, I’ve read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books at least once a year since 1978. It’s a great story that just never seems to get old (obviously). Also, there is Ivanhoe (x4), Sarum (x4) &Londinium (x4), The Maltese Falcon (x3) and King Solomon’s Mines (x3)…plenty of other multiple reads.

  • scenicsunshine

    Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, read it approx. 12 times in childhood (and adulthood)! And the copy shows it! All taped up on the sides and yellowing pages, but I just can’t bring myself to get a new one haha.

    • Becky

      I love that series!

  • Kathy Katopodis

    I bought a new book called A Synthetic Illusion by Christian Clarke. I have read it 4 times. For an unknown author his book was fantastic. I just couldn’t stop reading it. Now I cant wait for what else he will publish next.

  • Kathy Katopodis

    Oh and Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein just keeps me intrigued also (3 times)

  • wenweeks

    I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for the first time in 6th or 7th grade. I pick it up every few years to read it again. I am in my fifties so you do the math! I love “visiting” with my friends in the book.

  • jazdia

    I reread a lot of books. There’s a lot of sci-fi/fantasy books that I’ve reread multiple times, such as Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series, with “The White Dragon” being my most favorite. I reread my mystery books as well, with the Janet Evanovich Plum series being number one, and Donna Andrews’ Meg Langslow series being a close second. Of classic books, I’ve read “Gone with the Wind” the most, probably 6 times. I read it in my early 20’s every new year’s weekend. I’ve reread “The Chosen” by Chaim Potak several times as well.

  • Becky

    Wuthering Heights, The Great Gatsby, and fine…Twilight :)

  • patrick

    “Replay” by Ken Grimwood, “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio, “Flower for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes, the Harry Potter series, the Percy Jackson series and the Chronicles of Narnia.

  • ame12443493

    i’m always re-reading virgina woolf’s short stories – so much happens and there is always something new to discover.

    • Thomas Garman

      Vagina is for lovers.

  • Alma Perry

    Once a year I re-read the complete Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, Hobbit and Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. There are many others that I re-read, but these are consistently read, and read aloud to my children.

  • Linda G

    Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank I don’t know why, but once a year I read this book.

  • Linda

    I have read Robertson Davies’ “The Deptford Trilogy” at least 6 times, and I have listened to the adio books 3+ times. The books (which must be read in order) are “Fifth Business”, “The Manticore” and “World of Wonders”. I have read Robertson Davies’ “What’s Bred in the Bone” 6+ times and also listened to it several times as an audio book.

  • Tinea Mayse Ortega

    Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. This is my reread choice. I’ve read it four times, usually every winter for some reason, curled up in my blanket next to my Christmas Tree.

  • Joy Johnson

    The Stand by Stephen King (I read this once a year), The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, and Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. Those are books I read time and time again.

    • Michele

      I read The Stand once a year too!!!!! Usually around the last week of June……ahhahhah

      • Joy Johnson

        That’s the same time of year for me, too. I guess it makes good summer reading. ^5!!!! :-)

  • mamakat

    the one book that I reread is Jeffrey Archers book Kane and Abel…it is without a doubt one of the best stories ever written and the two follow-up stories to it are also excellent but it is Kane and Abel that I reread…

  • Jenn Burwell

    I am rereading The Bible by God

    • Debra Louise Barry

      ghost written by many!

      • Jenn Burwell

        Correct

    • paula Majersky

      God wrote the Bible?????

      • Jenn Burwell

        Yes. God inspired each of the human writers.

  • Michelle

    Jane Eyre

  • Deborah Craytor

    Great Books, by David Denby. If I can’t read all of the classics myself, at least I can enjoy someone else’s reading experience!

  • Kelly

    The Pretty Little Liars series
    10 times

  • David

    I have read The Great Gatsby over and over and over! I try to read it once a year.

  • Elizabeth

    I reread most books, if they’re good. I’ve reread all the Harry Potter books innumerable times, but “Gone with the Wind” and “Pride and Prejudice” are probably my most frequently reread books. “Gone with the Wind” is at least once a year, sometimes more often than that.

  • Michelle Spring

    For me it’s “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton. I’ve read her other books and loved them, but I keep rereading her first book. This is also probably the only school assigned book I loved while we read it in class and read it after. “The Outsiders” is timeless!

  • Adelyn Biedenbach

    I’ve read the hobbit and dracula so many times over and over! Love your number 5 though, unexpected and something I’m going to check out.

  • reneek

    I have re-read Pride and Prejudice many, many times. I also have a somewhat irritating need to re-read all the books in a series (in order) before I read the new book in a series. For this reason, I can pretty much recite One for the Money by Janet Evanovich.

  • Judy Rahn

    To Kill A Mockingbird, even though I the first time I read it was 5 years ago when my nephew had to read it while in high school. I think I’ve read it 20 times since, it seems every time I read it something new is important. Oh, and an out-of-print fantasy title: Emergence by David Palmer. It begs the question are we humans done with evolution?

  • LesYeuxHiboux

    Every book in the Harry Potter series at least four times, just read through them all again. Order of the Phoenix six or seven at this point. Feed, The Hobbit, White Oleander, and To Kill a Mockingbird I am nearing or over ten times. I’ve worn out two paperback copies of the last one, just got the fancy Barnes and Noble hardcover.

  • Katherena Boulden

    THE hOBBIT 5 TIMES

  • Pam Owen

    “One For The Money” by Janet Evanovich – 4 times and counting!

  • Debra Louise Barry

    The Outlander series! Jane Eyre, A Christmas Carol, Twas the Night Before Christmas, Hop On Pop!

  • Vincent Mohan

    Stranger In A Strange Land by Heinlein and Cold Mountain by Frazier.

  • Cathy Sumers Lunde

    When I was in the second grade Barbara and Ed Emberly came to my school and Drummer Hoff was big then. I got to buy the book and have it signed. I read and re-read that book until I had it memorized. Ed also did some drawings to “I don’t know why she swallowed the fly,” and still have the horse drawing he drew from that song.

  • James Peters

    I’ve reread Finnegan’s Wake the most, and I still don’t understand most of it.

  • RichmondMom

    Waiting for Godot, due to an incredible sequence of English assignments. Little Women, first for the sisterhood, then for the romance, then to see how it grew with me, then twice to my kids. Same with Jane Eyre.

  • Elizabeth

    His Dark Materials and a Tree Grows in Brooklyn I reread a few times. And Something Wicked this way comes I read every halloween :)

  • BustemLoose

    Giovanni’s Room is a heart shattering, dark and depressing short novel, but for some reason I find myself coming back every so often. Also Fear and Loathing is a good rollicking book that is great to kill time with! Thanks for the posts…need some good suggestions and I got a few!

  • JerseyGator

    I have reread LOTR so many times (as well as read it aloud to my kids one winter) that one year when my hubby and I were taking turns reading it aloud at night (yeah, we read to each other at night) he stopped to take a drink of water and I fed him the next line of dialogue. His first present to me was a paperback boxed set, at 10 years he upgraded to a leather bound set, and for Christmas a few years ago I got an engraved gold ring…but it doesn’t make me disappear.

  • Mel Luthy Henderson

    I read C. S. Lewis’s *The Great Divorce* at least once a year.

  • Karen Wilson Turner

    I’ve read “The Hobbit” 3 times and “The Lord of the Rings” 2 times.

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