over and over and over

As I work on my last chapter’s author review (to be mailed off tonight!) I start to dream […]

As I work on my last chapter’s author review (to be mailed off tonight!) I start to dream of fiction. What shall I read when this nightmare of professional diligence is over?

I think of those book I can read again and again.. Ender’s Game, The Princess Bride, The Big Sleep (yes, I like the book also), Persuasion and those authors.. Road Dahl, James Thurber, Ray Bradbury, Ogden Nash that are so familiar and unremittingly pleasant that reading them is like falling asleep on your grandmother’s couch: perfectly safe, familiar and wonderful in a tiny way.

So what haven’t I found yet? What are the books and authors you could read a hundred times?


Add Yours
  1. 1
    dave p.

    “Wind in the Willows” (two chapters, “Dolce Domum” and “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” get me every time); James Herriott; anything Jeeves by P.D. Wodehouse

  2. 2

    I’m reading “The Long Goodbye” by Raymond Chandler for the umpteenth time. Also, another little-read Dashiell Hammett is “The Glass Key”–not a detective novel as much as a mystery. Another rereadable: “The Perfect Vehicle” by Melissa Holbrook Pierson. Not only the best book about motorcycles, it’s a breathtakingly well-written book.

  3. 3
    Austin Govella

    Poe, Poe, and Poe. And then I always like to re-read Poe. He’s the one author who’s works I have read in their entirety at least twice, and there are dozens of stories I must’ve read a milltion, trillion, zillion times.

    Not that he’s so happy, warm, and safe.

    There’s the opening “reel” of William Gibson’s Neuromancer. What a great book, and the story sucks you in, careening through a dark, futuristic sprawl until you come to an abrupt halt where the book, about a third of the way through, suddenly shifts gears.
    Then, in an odd twist, I can read and re-read the initial 100 pages or so of Swann’s Way by Proust. I’ve never actually been beyond the century mark in this supposed classic of Western literature, but those first 100 pages are divine.

    I’ve actually only ever met one person who had read the entire book. Most people I speak with pick it up, enjoy it, read it for a while, and then just walk away somewhere around the 60-80 page mark.

    I agree with Chandler. Eudora Welty. Carver. I like short stories best. Perfect for lunch, bedtime, and waiting for the bus or your tires to be rotated.

    And the Tao te Ching. A wonderful design and IA reference.

  4. 6

    Most of the ones you listed are “comfort food” for the literary soul for me too. I would add Pride and Prejudice, Anne of Green Gables, Madame Bovary, Memoirs of a Geisha, and (*blushing*) Bridget Jones’ Diary.

  5. 7

    Can’t help you with fiction; I rarely read the stuff. Literary journalism, on the other hand…. Soul of a New Machine is deservedly a classic, but if you want to escape the computer industry, anything else by Tracy Kidder is also worth devouring. I particularly like House, about a couple who spend a year building their dream home, and Old Friends, about two gentlemen who bond in a nursing home. Any of these books have stories as compelling as any fiction, with the added filip that they’re real.

  6. 8
    James B.

    Since you liked enders game, have you read Enders Shadow? Its from the viewpoint of Bean, nearly as good as enders and it helps to fill in some gaps.

  7. 9

    I’ve read all the ender books. I think the first two are fantastic, the third is okay then it isn’t quite as good there on… not as tight. but still worth reading.

  8. 10

    Soul mountain by Gao Xingjian

    I think two of the many relevant points are the random chapter’s distribution and disparition of grammatical articles (you/he). You read it once, and then you want to read it again by themes (the temple, the panda’s forest, the passion, Beijing, the temple..), and again by chronology, and again because you feel you’re begening to understand, ect… I love ender’s game to.

  9. 11

    Anything by Jane Austen, “Cyrano de Bergerac” by Edmond Rostand, “The Princess Bride”, “Unaccompanied Sonata” by Orson Scott Card, Oscar Wilde’s plays, Grimm’s Fairy Tales…

  10. 12

    Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver, Fireman’s Fair by Josephine Humphries, Where You Are by George Constable (who has the best name for a protagonist, but is actually the autor), The Love Letter by Cathleen Schine. For kids books: Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle, Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken and The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. I second and third the Austen and Wodehouse recommendations, as well.

  11. 13

    It’s creepy to know Sam just wrote that from my loveseat, where she is sitting with my laptop as I read vineland on the couch. If I hadn’t gotten up to check mail… hmmm…

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