I'm a big re-reader. If I find a book I like, I will read it again and again in an attempt to absorb every metaphor, every nuance, every idea. This is part of my obsessive personality, but it's been a benefit to me when it comes to things like writing my Master's thesis. By the time I sat down to write it, I'd read and re-read the Harry Potter series four or five times - in the five years since I first discovered it. The same sort of thing goes for the books below - I've read and re-read each of them so many times that I know them like the back of my hand. The copies on my shelves are dog eared and damaged from numerous re-readings, which is, in my opinion, the best state of being for any book. 5. A Wrinkle in Time - Madeline L'Engle
I don't remember the first time I read A Wrinkle in Time. It gets confused with The Giver in my mind for some reason, so I must have read them both around the same time when I was quite young. Regardless, this book has said different things to me at different times in my life.
4. Til We Have Faces - CS Lewis
I first read this when I was a junior in college and was required to read it for my CS Lewis seminar when I was at Oxford. It's a dense and deep novel, and has many, many margin notes and bookmarked pages. It's one of Lewis' lesser known works, but is worth numerous readings.
3. The Giver - Lois Lowry
This is a simple, deceptive novel. This is the first book I can remember loving the characters so much that I didn't want the book to end - I wanted to know what happened at the end, with the house and its glowing lights in the snow. I wanted to know if Jonas affected the change he was supposed to and what happened to the town when the memories were released. The sequels, which I discovered in college, were ultimately a major disappointment, so I just pretend they didn't happen. I still think of the admonition of precision in wording in my daily life - don't say starving when you merely mean that you're hungry, and so on.
2. No Country for Old Men - Cormac McCarthy
I first read this in graduate school, and had seen the movie long before I read the book. McCarthy's simplistic syntax and yet incredibly complex themes make for a dense and intense novel. The themes about the nature of evil and the role that profit and greed play in society are important and necessary for discussion. Highly, highly recommend.
1. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
I'm a big fan of text tattoos, and if I could paint my entire body with quotes, the last lines of this novel would feature prominently. I love Nick's closing words: "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." It is a tale of decadence, of the rottenness beneath the American dream, and, at its heart, an examination of the giant "why?" questions of life. It is one of those novels that I did not initially appreciate, but have re-read in the years since and developed a great affection for it.