7 Books I Read Over and Over Again

I’ll re-read a book for one of two reasons: because I love it, or because I need it. This list features a healthy mix of both.

The Well-Trained Mind, Susan Wise Bauer

well trained mindI read this book for the first time when I was 22, and had no intention of ever homeschooling my someday-children. But the author was my college prof, and when I found out she’d written a book I wanted to read it, whether it addressed rocket science or ancient Persia or homeschooling. But reading this book made me wish I’d been educated this way, and for the first time I considered home education as a possibility for my future children.

Now I’m a homeschooling mom of 4, and I turn to this book again and again to remind me why we’re doing it, to help me get unstuck, and to encourage me to keep it up.

Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry.

jayber crowI resisted reading this one for a long time because I thought the name “Jayber” was ugly. Please don’t make that mistake.

This gorgeous novel has an impressive sense of place. It’s a book you can see and feel. It’s contemplative, beautiful, and sad. It’s a book that stays with you.

The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work, John Gottman.

7 principlesGottman is the famed researcher who can watch a couple interact for 5 minutes and then predict with 91% accuracy if they’ll divorce down the road. Successful marriages have a lot in common, and Gottman shows you how to incorporate these things into your own relationship.

There’s nothing revolutionary about his advice:  successful couples know each other well.  They like each other. They solve their solvable problems. His insights are simple to grasp, if not easy to put into practice.

I like to re-read this book every few years to remind me what we’re doing right–and what we maybe could be doing better. And it’s fascinating and fun to read.

Happier at Home, Gretchen Rubin

happier at homeI re-read this book because I need it. Happier at Home prompts me to think about whole categories of my life that I don’t think about on a regular basis. She offers practical tips on what, exactly, I could be doing to boost my family’s happiness. Above all, Happier at Home reminds me to make the effort. I need the reminder.

Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

bridesheadWhat can I say to capture why I love this book? It’s haunting and melancholy, wistful and reverent. I’m entranced by the story of the Flyte family’s unraveling–along with the rest of Britain’s aristocracy–and by its themes of love, loss, and grace.

A Circle of Quiet, Madeleine L’Engle

a circle of quietThis is my favorite Madeleine L’Engle book. Reading these pages, I feel like she gets me. Of course she does: she coined the phrase “the tired thirties,” after all. On these pages L’Engle is clearly a work-in-progress, but she’s working it through, and this peek into her thought process gives me hope that I can work it through, too.

Emma, Jane Austen

EmmaEmma is different from the others. It’s witty, of course. All Jane Austen is. But it’s bright and fresh and thoroughly modern, and Emma–despite her flaws–is so winning and relatable I find myself cheering her on more than any other Austen heroine. (Yes, even more than Lizzie.)

What books do you read over and over again?

Comments

  1. says

    Some great books that i have never heard about, i have downloaded samples for a few of them so thank you for sharing. I usually only re-read non-fiction books like self help books or anything to do with health, business etc

  2. says

    I am so pleased that you are also a fan of Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited! I read it last summer while following along with the BBC adaption from the ’80′s. It has also become one of the books that I return to time and time again! It is such a moving story and the writing is so well crafted!

      • says

        The BBC adaption from the 1980′s is excellent, very faithful to the book and its spirit! I highly recommend it! I strongly disliked and cannot recommend the adaption from 2008 as it distorted many of the characters and the relationships.

  3. says

    Can I confess that while I have watched the movies and mini series, I don’t think I’ve READ Jane Austen’s books. I will have to peruse my local library shelves!

    Brideshead Revisited is capturing my attention too. I always like checking out other people’s lists of favorites. I really like The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work. Good read!

  4. says

    Great choices! I’m so glad you’re a fan of Brideshead. It’s my absolute favorite novel and I have to read it every year. Did you see the Andrew Davies adaption with Emma Thompson? It had a great cast but it’s probably the worst thing I’ve ever seen. I was so upset and disappointed. Davies seems to have completely missed every important theme of the novel! I should stop before this becomes an angry rant :)

    • says

      No, I haven’t! I’ve been afraid that seeing the adaptation will ruin the book for me! I’m glad the film didn’t ruin the novel for you, even if you did think it was horrible. :)

    • says

      I’ve been told to stay away from the movie, too. The BBC miniseries comes highly recommended from different sources that I have read. I love Brideshead! I read it for the first time about a month ago, and it’s going on my reread list. I also reread The Harry Potter series, Bird by Bird, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Pride and Prejudice. I’m reading The Happiness Project now, and I have Happier at Home checked out, too. Oh, and I haven’t purchased the Well-Trained Mind, but I need to. I’ve read it 3 times now.

  5. says

    I love Gretchen Rubin’s books, both Happier at Home and The Happiness Project. I always find myself loving my space and family more and inspired to be happier. =)
    I”ve never read Brideshead Revisted but I’m going to try it. And I want to read The Well-Trained Mind as well. It’s been on my mom’s shelves for years but I never read it.

  6. says

    Rubin’s books will definitely be rereads for me. I gained so many insights from them the first time around. I read A Prayer for Owen Meany every few years. There are a few series that I’ll either reread or just read certain passages from when the occasion calls for it. The same goes with select nonfiction books, like A Sacred Thirst and Bird by Bird.

    • says

      I’ve been wanting to re-read A Prayer for Owen Meany ever since I read Irving’s interview with The Paris Review earlier this year.

      I love Bird by Bird (of course!) but have never heard of A Sacred Thirst. I need to look into that one.

  7. says

    _A Circle of Quiet_ is among my all time favorite books too! I also keep _A Well Trained Mind_ as a ready reference. I will have to put some of the others on my reading list. :)

  8. says

    I just re-read Emma last month. I can’t tell you what number re-read it was, but I loved it as always. (Then I went straight to Persuasion and finished the cycle of six once again.) Emma certainly is different from the others, but then again they each stand alone and apart in some way.

    If you’d like to know what I’m like, pay close attention to John Knightley. That guy could have been modeled on me.

    Tim

  9. says

    Thanks for the great ideas here. I have read articles in magazines by Gretchen Rubin and liked them; I’ll try to read her book as well, and I’ll check out Wendell Berry for sure.

    I also enjoy re-reading Emma and other Jane Austen as well as some of my other classic favourites like Jane Eyre, Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier), and The House of Mirth (Edith Wharton).

  10. says

    I reread C.S. Lewis’s first two space trilogy books now and then. The first, Out of the Silent Planet, for the story, and the second, Perelandra, for the heartbreakingly beautiful language (“Blessed be he…”). I love Berry’s novels and short stories — rereading those is like visiting with an old friend. Austen gets reread for the same reason. Stephen King’s The Stand and The Green Mile have been repeats, widely spaced. Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series…

    • says

      I love the first two books in the space trilogy as well, Lori, and have read them and re-read them a ton. But my favorite is the third book, That Hideous Strength. Lewis draws everything to conclusion, and shows vividly that even the most innocuous seeming decisions have consequences. It’s a masterpiece.

      Cheers,
      Tim

  11. says

    Great list! the only one I’ve read is Emma, but I’ll add the rest to my library holds.

    My list: Emma, Jane Eyre, Little Women, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, and Into Thin Air (I read it at Christmas time a lot because my climate isn’t snowy enough for me — weird, I know).

    • says

      I’ve never read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but I know so many people (including my mom) who love it dearly. I love Into Thin Air and Animal Vegetable Miracle. I’ve read them each once, but both would be good re-reads for me. Thanks for the reminder!

      • Allison says

        Please read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! Heartbreakingly beautiful. Then go ahead and read her Joy in the Morning as well. Not sequel but in the same vein. Ok I feel better now, I think I’ll go reread Animal Vegetable Mineral. :)

  12. says

    I read “A Circle of Quiet” about six months ago for the first time. Resonated with me so much.

    My latest read was the 2nd book in the “Call The Midwife” series. Simultaneously fascinating and heartbreaking.

    Our oldest daughter is in 1st grade and we mostly focus in on reading, writing, and math – with informal doses of science, history, and the arts.

    • says

      Hmm. I’ve heard the “fascinating” part of Call the Midwife, but no one’s mentioned the “heartbreaking” part to me. People keep telling me I need to watch the series: do I need to see the series before I read the books?

  13. says

    Another I just can’t wait to chime in on … I have a silly little rule for myself (because I love to reread)… whenever I go somewhere unfamiliar (vacations, trips, a move, etc.), I’m allowed to bring along and read old favorites. There’s something comforting in this funny little tradition of mine.

    I have read Emma a couple times, as well as Jane Eyre. I have reread all of John Eldredge’s multiple times (especially Wild at Heart), and I keep meaning to reread The Happiness Project. There was so much great practical advice to glean. I’m also currently reading A Celebration of Discipline and I keep thinking to myself that this will be a reread, possibly yearly.

  14. cheryl says

    I have a very real fear of dying (I’m 54!) before I can read all the books I want to read. So I feel like I don’t dare re-read anything, even though I sometimes want to. Sometimes I get panicky when I think of it. Is that weird?

  15. Sarah B. says

    OK…..I am going to have to give Emma another chance. Its the ONLY Austen I haven’t been able to get through. She drives me insane and I have flung it aside more than once. But many readers whose opinions I appreciate LOVE Emma. Sigh.

    I re-read the Harry Potter series every few years. I always take away something new.

    • says

      I’ve read Emma a half dozen times now. When I’m not actually reading the book, it’s easy for me to forget how horrible she is at the beginning! But I’m watching the web series Emma Approved right now (the follow up to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries), and it’s only on episode 4 or so, and this Emma is AWFUL so far! I don’t mean the acting–she’s just conceited, bossy, and a total busybody! Which is pretty much how she starts out in Jane Austen’s version.

      (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I’ll be happy to explain.)

  16. Abbey says

    Emma is my favorite book of all time! I’ve read it three times in the last year, and it just never gets old. It’s so simple on the surface, but so complex. I get something new out of it every time I read it! :)

  17. Kendall says

    Emma is one I read over and over. I have also re-read Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott and Jane Of Lantern Hil, A Tangled Web, Blue Castle, the Emily series and the Anne series all by L.M. Montgomery. I also never get tired of Tex by S.E. Hinton. I’ll stop there before I get carried away!

    • says

      The Blue Castle! YES. I still need to read Jane of Lantern Hill and Eight Cousins. I’ve never even heard of Tex–thanks for the recommendation!

  18. Shelley says

    I have a couple of questions and I wasn’t sure where to pose them. First off, I wanted to say that I’m fairly new to your blog and it is already my all-time favorite blog! I’m totally addicted to it and look forward to a new addition each day. :) I was wondering where you find your book ideas, and if you get your books from the library or if you buy them to keep. Also, I’d love to hear a blog post about where to keep one’s books because we are always running out, with five people in our family who love reading! ;) Finally, thank you for expanding my literary world and opening me up to try new genres! I’m excited.

    • says

      Thanks so much! I used to have a hard time finding fiction recommendations, but now I get so many from my readers (who have really great taste :) ) that I’m never short of books to read.

      I’m not sure I could help you with where to keep your books—I struggle with that myself! (Although you may find the Other People’s Bookshelves link-up a great resource.)

      Is that helpful? What did I forget?

      • Shelley says

        Thank you. :) I found a link about if you buy or borrow books from one of your posts, so I already got an answer to that question. ;) Thank you and keep the great posts coming! I’m learning and relating so much!! Loved the one on HSP & de-cluttering, etc. etc. I’m still rather in awe of how your work part-time, blog, read and homeschool four kids!! I just homeschool three kids and take them to their various classes and activities, read, workout, clean house, cook and hang with family or go places and it feels FULL! WTG!

        • says

          There aren’t very many places where one would say, “I “just” homeschool 3 kids.” Welcome, Shellley–glad you’re finding this a nice space to hang out. :)

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