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View Diary: Bookflurries: Bookchat: Will The Book Hold Up? (280 comments)

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  •  I hope everyone will chime in with re-readable (20+ / 0-)

    picks of their own, since this is a subject I've been chewing on lately.

    Frankly, I was raised in a family of intellectual snobs (papa and two brothers being professors), and I always felt I was smart enough not to re-read books. Why bother when there are so many left I haven't read once?

    I mean, okay, if you're trying to grasp Ulysses in one go, that's just hubris. But I wouldn't reread a Dickens or an Austen, for instance. Yeah, my ego can be pretty insufferable.

    Earlier this year I re-read The Great Gatsby, and found twice as much there as when I read it in my teens. And if Faulkner re-read Don Quixote every year, he must have had his reasons. So I look forward to hearing about other people's favorite books to re-read.

    Thanks for bringing it up, cfk.

    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

    by Brecht on Wed Nov 02, 2011 at 05:11:17 PM PDT

    •  You are very welcome (11+ / 0-)

      Sometimes books are re-read as comfort...old favorites that hit the spot over and over.

      Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

      by cfk on Wed Nov 02, 2011 at 05:20:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Some books have their own peculiar charm, (13+ / 0-)

      so that if you're in that mood, no other book will do. A lot of people re-read The Lord of The Rings, because they want to walk in Middle Earth again.

      For me, Tristram Shandy, Ubik or The Man in The High Castle, the Amber books, at least the first Gormenghast book, The Master and Margarita, Douglas Adams, and Borges all create irreplaceable worlds.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Wed Nov 02, 2011 at 05:23:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  All good books. Except Gormenghast, (7+ / 0-)

        which goes to the top of my list of books I hated so much I couldn't read it, and threw it away when I was a kid, all three books of the trilogy.  It was marketed at the time in a box with the same kind of art as Lord of the Rings, so I expected something similar, and ended up yawning myself to death.  God, I still feel resentful about it, forty years later.  How interesting.  Those three books were expensive when I was in high school.

        For Phililp K. Dick, I rank Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch up there near or at the top, if just for the wonderful scene where we finally find out what people on Mars do with all the Can-D and Simulacra.

        Deus Irae, written with Roger Zelazny, was another great one, although I think I can tell easily which parts were written by Zelazny (the crappy ones) and which by Dick.  

        And, oh, oh, oh, the best PKD book of them all, very tip-top: Flow my Tears, the Policeman Sang.  I gave away way too many copies of that book as part of a personal Dickian missionary crusade.

        •  Yes, Flow My Tears is very fine (6+ / 0-)

          and I enjoyed Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch too. I'll have to check out Deus Irae, thanks.

          Small confession: I've actually never re-read either Gormenghast or the Bulgakov - they just struck me as having unique flavors. I originally read Gormenghast when I was going to the oldest boarding school in England (The King's School, Canterbury - pretty weird in itself), and it was like a marvellous caricature of my school. For instance, the scene where the boys are sliding on planks, firing spitballs at each other, and jumping out windows, while the master sleeps.

          That may account for how compelling it was (and why I so preferred the first volume). I think I'd still enjoy it now, but that world is pretty harsh and sinister if you let it sink in.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Wed Nov 02, 2011 at 07:35:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Palmer Eldritch might be my fave of his (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cfk, Brecht, RunawayRose, Dumbo

            (along with Androids, Ubik, Maze of Death, A Scanner Darkly, and Flow my Tears  --guess I'm a fan).  Deus Irae is a rewrite of Dr Bloodmoney from earlier (50s) in his life.  

            •  Hmmm... I can't remember (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Brecht, Urizen, cfk, RunawayRose

              Dr. Bloodmoney, so I'll guess that I didn't read it.  I'm reading the wiki entries on that and Deus Irae, and although there are some slight similarities, they still sound very different.  They both have a post-apocalyptic world and a main character who is armless and legless.  But the main character in Deus Irae kills Lufteufel without ever knowing who he is or was.  Most of the story is about his pilgrimage to see Lufteufel in order to paint his portrait for village church.

        •  Try "Boy In Darkness" by ... (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          newdem1960, cfk, Brecht, Dumbo, RunawayRose

          ... Mervyn Peak -- a short story on a similar theme.

          Perhaps a more palatable liqueur than the moonshine of his admittedly overwrought, un-completed trilogy.

          It's ... ridiculous to expect the market to police itself as it would be to expect a baserunner to walk off the field if no one is calling outs.

          by MT Spaces on Wed Nov 02, 2011 at 08:02:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  "Peake" your curiosity? (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cfk, Dumbo, RunawayRose, Brecht

            M.P. was an illustrator, but he also wrote a fair number of books -- often with a satirical edge towards religion, which might seem strange, considering he was a solid Christian.

            His beliefs were more of the "God knows, I'm only human!" type.

            It's ... ridiculous to expect the market to police itself as it would be to expect a baserunner to walk off the field if no one is calling outs.

            by MT Spaces on Wed Nov 02, 2011 at 08:29:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I had a completely different reaction (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RunawayRose, Brecht, cfk, Dumbo

          to Gormenghast.  I also bought the trilogy as you did, as a kid, since it was the next thing that Ballantine Books came out with after LOTR.  And it is true that it was completely different from Tolkien, and that I was surprised by that.

          But I loved Peake's world and his writing.  As much as I adore Tolkien, I think Peake is actually a more skilled writer.  No way did Gormenghast supplant LOTR for me, and the second and third book of the trilogy were not as exciting to me as the first book.

          But I ended up re-reading the trilogy a few years ago, and liked it even more.

          Of course, the Gormenghast "readers club" is much smaller than the Rings "readers club".

          Ancora Impara--Michelangelo

          by aravir on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 05:39:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am happy to hear you say that (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cfk, Dumbo

            I would hate to re-read the books, only to find them diminish before my eyes.

            Now I'm encouraged to try some other Peakes (e.g. Boy In Darkness, which MT Spaces recs) as an appetizer, and then return to Gormenghast.  

            "I think Peake is actually a more skilled writer" may well be true in literary terms.

            But Tolkein fed into his books his vast knowledge of myths and Eddas, of what made stories that grab at our hidden dreams and last the generations; and also he lived in a Europe where he could feel the omnipresent threat of Hitler's Mordor. Nobody else could have written LOTR.

            "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

            by Brecht on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 08:28:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  lots of reasons to re-read (15+ / 0-)

      Revisiting favorite places and characters is one.

      Or writers with exceptional language, or voice, or humor, because it's impossible to remember every great sentence or subtle snark.

      Masters of plot, because Checkov's Gun can be as much fun the second time around, when you actually notice it. Any good mystery for that reason.

      Or if you're learning to write. Because when you learn each new technique or trick, you can now see the author working the craft instead of just experiencing it. And even "bad" writers tend to have something working that you can learn from, even if it's only how to write a cheap cliff-hanger.

    •  I did re-read "Gatsby" recently. And (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cfk, RunawayRose, Brecht, ferg

      it seemed to me an entirely different story than when I first read it.

      Also re-read Pico Iyer's "The Lady and the Monk."  Either I missed a lot the first time through or just found more in it on second read.  Terrific book.  

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