Inspired by an older post on one of my favorite blog reviewers (seriously, Greg Zimmerman over at The New Dork Review Of Books does fantastic work! And he has great literary taste too!), I’ve decided to do a pair of lazy posts in a row.
I expect to be back in 3-5 days with a new post about… something a little more thoughtful than a Top Whatever list. But I make no promises.
So… Inspired by this post, I’m going to briefly discuss the top books I wish I could re-read again… for the first time.
10. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
Midnight’s Children is one of my favorite novels… and I’m fairly certain I’ll never read it again. I had to read it for a multicultural lit class in college and loved it… But I think I only loved it because the class went over every nuance in the novel, every metaphor… just exhaustive.
And every time I’ve tried to re-read it… I’ve failed. Maybe next year?
9. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Much like The NDRoB, I’ve found that I don’t enjoy reading this book whenever I try to revisit it. After being frightened to the point of quitting several times through college, when I finally finished House of Leaves… I felt accomplished.
It was scary, mind-bending, and almost indescribable. And I highly recommend it for everyone. Just be warned that you may not want to reread it.
8. Song Of Solomon by Toni Morrison
I distinctly remember this novel being one of the ones that convinced me that I had made the right choice in being an English Lit major. Despite the Oprah Book Club designation… this book excited me.
I was laid out, sick as a dog at a girlfriend’s house and I didn’t feel like doing anything but finishing up this novel, even though the class I was in had only been assigned the first six chapters. I finished it in a single sitting and took another drive at finishing it.
7. Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
I made the almost unforgivable mistake of watching the movie first. It wasn’t an intentional decision, but it happened. I’m not proud of it, but there you are. For awhile, I preferred the film, until I really dug in and got more of the subtext of the novel.
The infection is so bad that any time I read anything by HST, I usually end up with Johnny Depp’s voice in my head instead.
6. Post Office by Charles Bukowski
Simply put, I was too young when I read this. I was 20, thought I knew everything, and didn’t fully appreciate the novel for its humor, or its brilliance.
The strong, short sentences. The heartbreaking story. The man, the myth… Chinaski.
Boy I sound like a tool…
5. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
This was one of the first comics I read when I was trying to get more into the medium, and I was completely blown away. I’ve read it nearly half a dozen times in just a few years, but I always get more out of it. I especially love rereading the fourth issue, when Doctor Manhattan contemplates his past, present, and future from Mars.
Just the same, the shocking reveal of the unlikely villain, the moment you find out who Rorschach really is… the giant squid… all of that. I’d love to experience all over again, especially with my now greater appreciation for comic books.
4. Catch-22 by Joseph Hellar
If you were to ask me, I’d tell you that I love Catch-22, that Hellar’s novel is one of my favorites. And that is true. Mostly.
But I’ve also never successfully re-read the novel since I first read it about a decade ago. For some reason, every time I sit down to try to read it again, I just can’t do it. And I don’t know why. Maybe the timeline confuses, maybe I don’t like the characters as much as I used to, maybe I just plain don’t enjoy the novel any more… but I’d love to read it fresh and unspoiled again, to try to recapture that magic.
3. The Sandman by Neil Gaiman and various artists
There’s little I can say about this except that it was hard to choose between Sandman and Neverwhere. I (obviously) love Neil Gaiman’s work, but I don’t think I fully appreciated Sandman when I first read it. I sort of liked the first volume (and loved loved LOVED “The Sound of Her Wings”), but I found it difficult to keep up with the interlacing stories.
I know, I know. I think I made it harder than it was because it was a comic book.
Just the same, I’d love to experience the story all over again. One of the finest fantasy tales in literature, graphic or otherwise.
2. The Instructions by Adam Levin
This behemoth of a novel was a serious project. I got a copy from the library and had three weeks to finish it. No renewals because the queue behind me was rather long. So I told myself: no video games, no TV, no dicking around with my phone, nothing.
And I did it. I rocked it out in two solid weeks of reading and loved pretty much every moment. A re-read would be great (maybe some day…), but to be reintroduced to all the characters… and to get a chance to experience the climactic and violent final third of the book for the first time… that would be simply divine.
1. Ask The Dust by John Fante
This is the book, for me. Seriously, the book. If I could read one, and only one, book for the rest of my life, it would be Ask The Dust. After picking it up as a completely random recommendation from someone I met in an AOL chat room late one night in college, I fell in love with John Fante’s sparse, beautiful prose.
I wanted to live in that Los Angeles, with smoky hotel rooms, drunken-yet-lovable neighbors, wild Mexican women. I wanted to be a starving artist with a threadbare suit, a typewriter, and a dream.
Most of all, I wanted to write like John Fante. I wanted to infuse settings with character and depth, like he did for Los Angeles. I still haven’t reached any level of success toward this goal in my fiction writing, but whenever I need inspiration, I just flip to a random page and read. My breath still catches, my eyes well up, and I’m captured again.
Don’t Forget to Follow Books and Bits On Facebook (yes, it will open in a new window… for your convenience!)