Saturday, October 29, 2011

Just finished the bi-annual re-reading of Heart of Darkness, a book that never ceases to amaze me.  It's the same every time - I struggle with the early chapters and wonder whether I''ve previously overestimated Conrad, only to be sucked ever deeper into the narrative like Marlow himself.  I always feel like it repays rereading with previously undiscovered nuances, although I suspect that I've just forgotten aspects of the text.

The Name of the Rose, I reread every four years or so - just long enough that it feels fresh and revelatory every time.  I could go on at length about the intriguing mystery at its heart or the wonderful evocation of the period, or just praise the novel as an enduring treatise on humanity, forgiveness and understanding, but really - I just like spending time in the company of William of Baskerville, one of my favourite literary creations.  I actually enjoy hearing the cogs of his mind working even more than reading Sherlock Holmes, the character that he's obviously based on.

Other books: I make a point of reading Slaughterhouse Five every few years and Neuromancer every five years or so.  The Crow Road always reminds me of my own callow youth, since I was the same age as Prentice McHoan when I read it, and it's filled with lovable characters - I still get a bit teary when they finally find Uncle Rory.  Oh, and spoilers.

To Kill a Mockingbird has Atticus Finch in it, which is enough on its own to merit regular returns, and I fully intend to read The Quiet American at least five times, so impressed was I on the last reading.  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Treasure Island are usually first into my suitcase for beach holidays.

But still, there are other books that I loved intensely when I read them, but can't quite recapture the same feeling of wonderment.  Lolita, Catch-22, Money, Crime and Punishment - I've tried on numerous occasions, despite being absolutely obsessed with each, once upon a time.

So folks, do any of you find some books are treasures to be enjoyed again and again, and others - no matter how fantastic - are one-shot works?  Are there any that you'd recommend as perennial favourites?

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