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What Books Have You Read More Than Once?

I know a guy who re-reads Orson Scott Card’s Worthing Saga every year. I told him he needs to branch out. He told me he likes the story so much he makes it a tradition.

I can’t say I’ve ever gone that far, but I have re-read books before:

  • I read Dune twice. It did not hold up nearly as well on the second read.
  • I read The Fellowship of the Ring twice, but only because the first time through Lord of the Rings, I stopped in the middle of The Two Towers.
  • A non-genre example: I read Lord of the Flies twice; one force-fed reading in high school, and one much better reading as an adult.
  • (I’ve also said I want to re-read The Man Who Fell to Earth.)

That’s all I can recall at this point. I usually don’t re-read books because there is so much other good stuff out there to read and part of me – no matter how illogical and impossible I know it to be – wants to read it all.

What books have you read more than once?

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

43 Comments on What Books Have You Read More Than Once?

  1. Loads, as it happens – but a lot of that came from the fact that, when I was younger, I couldn’t find many new books I liked (unaware of the notion of genre). So I read le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy countless times, as well as McCaffery’s earlier Pern novels. Then, as a teen, I read Julian May’s Saga of Pliocene Exile repeatedly, and still re-read it every few years, simply because it’s that damned good.

    I’ve re-read most of Iain Banks’ stuff (sf and ‘straight’) for the same reason, as with William Gibson and Jeff Noon. In fact, the only probable reason that I don’t re-read so often in recent years is that I’m lucky enough to be sent more new material than I have time to keep up with!

  2. Scads and scads. Until some point. I’m not going to post a list, as that probably would be the point where I get banned!

    I will point out a trend: The younger I was, the more I tended to re-read something. Why? Well, there was less “genre fiction” around, or less that I had access to, so I tended to re-read what I did have access to.

    Later, I would tend to re-read earlier books in a series when a new book came out, to bring me up to date. Now, with the advent of tools like Wikipedia, it is easier to find a synopsis of earlier books to refresh the memory.

    So I do re-read books these days, but the number has dropped. A lot. They tend to be books I have not read since I was a kid (for example, I’m currently re-reading Andre Norton’s “They Shall Have Stars!”) or books I have not visited in many years that I’m trying to get a fresh perspective on (for example, I’m re-reading Gene Wolfe’s “New Sun” books and may–may!–tackle Stephen R. Donaldson again. May!)

  3. One of my resolutions this year was to reread one of my favourite sf novels each month. And so far I’ve managed to stock to it. I’ve been writing up the experience too. Here’s the first post.

  4. Richard Brautigan’s A Confederate General from Big Sur and PKD’s 3 Stigmata usually once per year. They make a good read together for some reason.

    I’ve done Dhalgren quite a few times, because you can always get a few new nuggets out of there…

  5. Only the Narnia books several times.

  6. I re-read “Dune” at least every 2 years and the “Lord of the Rings” almost as much, Asimovs “Foundation Series” and Larry Niven’s Motie series(most likable aliens ever) but I find that I tend to skip to my favourite chapters and/or passages never really doing a complete reading

  7. I re-read the LotR trilogy once a year around this time of the year (finished it a couple of weeks ago). Done it for the last 21 years now.

    I’ve re-read the Honor Harrington series about 6 times from Basilisk Station to At All Costs.

    Back when I was younger, I re-read The Godfather several times (I know that,s out of genre, but it was a book that I re-read obsessively when I was in my late teens)

    Asimov’s Foundation trilogy several times, also back then.

    I actually *have* to re-read stuff, because I read way too much for my wallet to support it (5-8 books a week), and I don’t feel well if I haven’t read anything at the end of a day, something is missing 🙂 So…there’s lots of good stuff I’ve re-read.

    Also, when there’s a new book from a good series that gets published long after the previous one comes out (like happened with Flint/Weber’s Belisarious Saga), I re-read the whole series before reading the new book, to get into the I-so-want-to-read-this-book mood.

    Also, I think re-reading books as you grow older gives you new perspectives on things…I’m amazed that Tolkien managed to write something that I’ve been able to appreciate and love for 21 years, even if for the last 4 or 5 there *are* parts that I skip (those long-ass descriptions do push my patience now, unlike when I was younger), while I’m sadly disappointed that most of Asimov’s stuff has lost its luster as I’ve grown up (Nightfall is still one my top 10 of all times, tho), which makes me not recommend it to older friends…but as soon as my nephews hit their teens, they are getting the Foundation trilogy as a gift from me.

    In other words, re-reading is something that happens to me quite often…and most of the time it’s very enjoyable.

  8. Michael // July 24, 2007 at 2:27 pm //

    I don’t re-read much, but I had to go back and read “Perdido Street Station” and “The Scar” by China Mieville again, mostly because the first time my mind was busy being blown, and it took a second pass to properly absorb everything. Superb books, both of them.

  9. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Dark Is Rising Sequence and Tim Powers’ On Stranger Tides and The Anubis Gates.

    There are others, but these are the ones I’ve reread the most.

  10. I’ve read the LotR 15 or 16 times. I’ve read the Narnia Chronicles 5 or 6 times. I’ve read Les Misérables twice (even though it’s not Sci-Fi) and am looking forward to reading it again in a year or so.

  11. I wish I had time for re-reads, not enough to get through all the good stuff out there first time round.

  12. Richard Novak // July 24, 2007 at 4:26 pm //

    Of Mice and Men and The Hobbit 5 times. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe twice.

    Blessings

    Richard

  13. Back in my long lost youth, I never bought a science fiction book until I had read it at least twice, and knew that I would reread several times over again.

    The most reread book in my collection is LORD OF THE RINGS, which I read on average once a year every year between elementary school and law school.

    In my day, no, there was not that much ‘good stuff’ out there waiting impatiently to be read. There was nothing like Tolkien.

  14. I’m too far behind in my reading (and too advanced in age) to justify (at least in my mind) rereading books. However now that I have a hour one-way (two if there’s traffic) commute I have begun a project of “rereading” most of the classic SF canon as audiobooks. I did the Foundation books, plus Asimov’s prequels and sequels in “historical” order rather than order of publication. Did the same with the Dune books, reading the Anderson/Herbert prequels first, then moving onto the Herbert books proper.

    Gateway, Dispossessed, Childhood’s End, Canticle for Leibowitz, About seven Heinleins, the Rama books, and The Gods Themselves have all kept me company in the past four months.

  15. I tend to reread my favorites every few years.

    A very partial list:

    DIASPORA by Greg Egan

    THE NIGHT’S DAWN TRILOGY by Peter F. Hamilton

    EXULTANT, TIMELIKE INFINITY, MANIFOLD: TIME, MANIFOLD: SPACE, and

    quite a few others by Stephen Baxter

    All of Lawrence Watt-Evans ETHSHAR novels.

    THE HYPERION SAGA by Dan Simmons

    THE HARVEST by Robert Charles Wilson (and most of his other books)

  16. Starship Troopers a couple of times.

    Huckleberry Finn at least three times. Gets better each time.

    Glory Road. Read that twice in high school

    Ender’s Game. Couple of times.

  17. I re-read pretty compulsively, but mostly outside of sf, since I’ve only recently gotten into it. I’ve read LOTR, the Hobbit, and all the Harry Potter books multiple times. I’ve read The Time Traveler’s Wife several times as well. Most of the books on my shelf, actually, I’ve probably read two or three times.

    I love re-reading, but I’m starting to feel guilty about it, since time I spend re-reading I don’t spend reading new material. It’s a balance, I guess.

  18. Anonymous // July 24, 2007 at 8:19 pm //

    I would love to re-read, but I just can’t bring myself to. As many of you, I feel there’s just too much out there I’ll never get to. I keep telling myself I’ll go back to books when I’m old and retired, but I’ll probably still feel guilty. The only book I can remember re-reading is “Franny and Zooey.”

    Some books I’ll want to re-read:

    Yes, I Can – Sammy Davis Jr.

    The Sheep Look Up

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

    Ender’s Game

    The Martian Chronicles

  19. Lord of the Rings 3 or 4 times

    Dune twice

    1984 two or three times

    The Talisman by King/Straub 3 or 4 times

    The Stand, The Eyes of the Dragon, The Gunslinger by King 3 times each

    A Song of Ice and Fire twice

    Gardens of the Moon twice

    Memory, Sorrow and Thorn twice

    The (first) Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever

  20. I read Neuromancer and Starship Troops each about once a year. Both are short enough that I can pick them up when I do not have another book in line to read.

  21. LOTR, of course, and The Hobbit.

    Narnia.

    Flashman Papers (George MacDonald Fraser; historical fiction).

    William Forstchen’s Lost Regiment series (Civil War soldiers on alien planet fighting cannibalistic “horde” warriors with allies from several historical Earth periods).

    To Kill A Mockingbird.

    The Razor’s Edge.

    Tarzan books (and everything else by Edgar Rice Burroughs).

    Anne Rice’s Vampire books.

    Conan (Robert E. Howard).

  22. Forgot:

    Frankenstein.

    House of the Seven Gables.

  23. Like many others, I hardly have time to finish the backlog of books in my cupboard, much less to re-read any of them. However, one book that I do keep going back to is the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

  24. -LOTR, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion

    -the Hyperion books by Dan Simmons

    -The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson

    -The War of the Worlds

    -the Foundation books and Nightfall

    -Dune

    -Neuromancer

    -The Martian Chronicles

    -The Tower of Beowulf by Parke Godwin

    I agree with some of the previous comments that Foundation and Dune have lost their lustre over the years.

    While it is tough to fit in a re-read with the heavy load of new books, I try to do at least two a year just to remind myself why I love particular stories. If they can stand up to the test of a re-read, they’re worth re-reading again in a couple of years.

  25. General X // July 25, 2007 at 2:08 am //

    I have re-read all the Harry Potter books. The goblet of fire in particular, several times, and than I bought the audio version and listened to it a couple of times. I have re-read the Foundation and the Foundation and the Empire several times as well. As for nonsf I re-read the Runaway Jury, A Time To Kill, The Brethren and The Firm from John Grisham several times. Non-fiction books include aviation and course books.

  26. every 2-3 years: catcher in the rye

    lord of the rings

    lord of the flies

    three times that i recall: foundation trilogy

    1984

    animal farm

  27. First post here, but seeing as how I reread quite a lot I thought I’d post – although most of mine have already been mentioned already

    Hyperion – Dan Simmons

    The Last Legends of Earth – A A Attanasio

    Lord of Light – Roger Zelazny

    A Song of Ice & Fire – George R R Martin

    Chronicles of Thomas Covenant – Stephen Donaldson

    And when I was younger

    All the Narnia books – C S Lewis

    The Dark is Rising Sequence – Susan Cooper (though I want to read that again soon)

    And the Belgariad & Mallorean – David Eddings

  28. Which Books Have you read more than once?

    John at SFSignal asks: What books have you read more than once?…

  29. I haven’t re-read much, especially in recent years. Too many new books to read!

    http://www.skyseastone.net/jvstin/unjvst/006636.html

  30. Who’s “Orison” Scott Card? Is he Orson’s baby brother?

  31. The second time I read LOTR I stopped in the middle of The Two Towers, which let’s face it, is very dull.

    I’m just trying to keep up with the new books on my shelf. Haven’t reread anything for ages. However I’d love to reread SnowCrash and the Sprawl trilogy.

  32. Iain Banks’ Culture stuff.

    Hyperion and The Fall Of Hyperion.

    Startide Rising.

    And of course, the Sten series, every so often.

  33. Which Books Have you read more than once?

    Blog, Jvstin Style: Which Books Have you read more than once? …sorta a strange idea to some folks. Reading a book again….

  34. Which Books Have you read more than once?

    Blog, Jvstin Style: Which Books Have you read more than once? …sorta a strange idea to some folks. Reading a book again….

  35. Which books have you read more than once?

    Blog, Jvstin Style: Which Books Have you read more than once? …sorta a strange idea to some folks. Reading a book again….

  36. Easy question:

    Stinger by Robert McCammon

    Damnation Game by Clive Barker

    and any collection of HP Lovecraft stories

  37. In the past 10 years, the only series I’ve been able to read more than once is George RR Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, currently waiting on Book 5.

    I’ve read the first 4 books half a dozen times each.

  38. Like others, I’ve re-read some books because there were no others to read at the time, in addition to liking them a lot too.

    Lord of the Rings Trilogy – 2 times

    The Foundation Series – 2 times

    That’s about it, there are a couple that I’ll re-read when I have the chance again though, like The Etched City and the Silmarillion.

  39. Hmmm.. might be easier to count the books I haven’t re-read. I get through several books a week, and usually one of them is an old favorite.

    My family has a tradition of reading Dicken’s Christmas Carol out loud together every year. It got so that while we all knew the book exetremely well, we also kept seeing new things in it.

  40. When I was a kid (5th grade), I must’ve read the Narnia series a half-dozen times. Read it again when the movie came out and realized it didn’t hold up well (for me at least).

    I don’t know how many times I’ve read Zelazny’s Amber series; probably verging on double digits (at least for the first five). Same for the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (at least the original trilogy). There’s something about them that keeps drawing me back, and I seem to find new bits each time I read them.

    I’ve read The Hobbit probably five or six times, and the LotR trilogy three or four times.

    I’ve read the first four Harry Potter books twice; read them again when book 5 came out, but didn’t feel I needed the refresher for books 6 and 7.

  41. Gosh, lots.

    Dune, I Am Legend (several times), The Man Who Fell to Earth, The Forever War, A Canticle For Leibowitz, 2001.

    Plus a bunch of Philip K. Dick: VALIS, Ubik, Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Divine Invasion, Eye in the Sky, Time Out of Joint, Transmigration of Timothy Archer, A Scanner Darkly, A Maze of Death, and probably a few more.

    Then there are the ones that I want to read again, but haven’t yet, including Rendezvous With Rama and the Time Traveler’s Wife.

    And I can think of three that I didn’t like the first time around that I gave second chances to: Ender’s Game (better the second time, but I still think the sequels are much, much better), Starship Troopers (still detest its politics, but it’s a good read) and Stranger in a Strange Land (which I probably liked even less the second time through).

  42. Sarkika Smith // July 28, 2007 at 6:15 pm //

    From eighth grade to about age 25, I used to read DUNE once a year. Now I just read it every four years or so.

    Off the tope of my head, my favorite readovers are: THE GYPSY by Steven Brust and Megan Lindholm (Robin Hobb), BONE DANCE by Emma Bull, and WHEN GRAVITY FAILS by Alec F. Effinger.

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