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In this wondrous age of the internet, we’re never more than a couple of clicks away from some form of ‘Best 100 books ever’ list (here’s a link to one produced by Time Magazine, back in January this year). 

These lists are usually chocked full of ‘classic’ literature like To Kill a Mockingbird, War and Peace or 1984.  Many of the novels listed are required reading in English classes, and (from a ‘classic’ literature point of view) rightly so, but I sometimes wonder whether there’s another test books should have to pass before they can truly be hailed as one of the best, and that’s the number of times folks come back to read them again.

Call me an uncultured numpty, but over the years I’ve read quite a lot of the books on those ‘Best 100…’ lists, and while I don’t doubt their (and their authors’) contribution to the world of literature, a major factor in deciding whether something went on my ‘best book’ list would be how many times I came back to read it again. 

With the exception of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, (both of which I’ve read at least twenty times), and the handful which I’ve read a couple of times in the last thirty years or so,  I don’t think I’ve seen any book mentioned in a top 100 list poll which I’ve wanted to read more than once.

On the other hand, novels like Terry Pratchett's Night Watch (along with many of his other Discworld books) have a permanent place in my tbr pile.

Of course, that’s just me. It’s possible everyone else has read most of those top 100s over and over. In any case, I’m not saying that makes them ‘bad’, I just don’t see how a book can be considered one of the best 100 books ever if folks don’t reread it time and time again.  If multi-reading were a factor, I suspect those lists would look dramatically different.

I’m sure Jane Austen fans re-read all her novels on a regular basis, but I do wonder how many other folks are like me and have only read most of these ‘best books ever’ once, and if they’d have read them at all if they hadn’t been required reading at some point in their academic lives.

How about you?

If you were compiling a 'Best ever' list, would you take into account the number of times folks reread the same book?  




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Comments

peadarog
May. 10th, 2010 04:55 pm (UTC)
Probably not. I almost never reread anything -- I always want something new.
jongibbs
May. 10th, 2010 05:00 pm (UTC)
'I almost never reread anything'

Lol, I hope your editor doesn't see this :P
peadarog
May. 10th, 2010 05:04 pm (UTC)
Don't worry, he knows I'm the new Picasso. 20 minutes to write a novel. 6 months by the Med to spend the proceeds on my yacht. Then we start over.
msstacy13
May. 10th, 2010 05:10 pm (UTC)
The new Picasso?

You mean you can make Gertrude Stein look better than Hemminway made her sound?
peadarog
May. 10th, 2010 05:15 pm (UTC)
I can make Hemingway himself look better than Gertrude Stein. I can make supermarket food taste good. Animals? I will cause them not to poop in unexpected places.

I, in short, am a writer of genius and excellent taste.*



*Your Mileage May Vary. Slightly.
msstacy13
May. 10th, 2010 05:19 pm (UTC)
Which reminds me--
The missionaries were ready to eat,
and took comfort in their certain assurance
that the local people would get a taste of Christianity.
peadarog
May. 10th, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC)
:-)

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there


No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there















 











THE MEAGER PUDDLE OF LIMELIGHT AWARDS


Books by my writer friends - compressed

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