Rereading Books – Part 2

I’ve been a bit absent on the blog since my last post, but I spent a lovely week or so visiting family. It was great to spend time away from the internet and computers, and instead enjoy spending lots of time outdoors and catching up with family.

I didn’t even manage to get that much reading done. I started and finished Amy Sackville’s Orkney which is beautifully written, and I started Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling which I just finished yesterday and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series. I’ve got a couple of reviews of books I finished before I was away to publish, but you can expect my thoughts on Orkney and The Cuckoo’s Calling in the not too distant future I hope.

Anyway, here’s part 2 of my Rereading Books post I published earlier! If you missed part 1, you can read that here.

Atonement Ian McEwan

Atonement – Ian McEwan
Vintage, 2002

Atonement – Ian McEwan

On a hot summer’s day in 1935, Briony Tallis watches from an upstairs window as her older sister undresses and climbs into the fountain in the garden, as childhood friend Robbie stands by and watches on. Briony can’t make sense of what she has just seen, and so begins to imagine what could have occurred – with dangerous consequences. By the end of the day, neither Cecelia, Robbie, nor Briony’s lives will ever be the same again, and Briony will spend her life trying to atone for the crime she commits.

I’ve reread Atonement many times and I even wrote about it in one of my dissertations for Uni last year. Ian McEwan is a writer I admire: I love his descriptions, the evocation of place, and the way he creates a story. Every time I read Atonement I get absorbed into the book and find something new. Interestingly for a book that I’ve reread many times, I don’t actually like the main character, Briony, and I think she’s certainly a character that divides opinion. I don’t believe you have to identify with, or like, a character in order to enjoy a book, and I think it’s Briony who draws me back into the book time and time again. I find the story and her character so compelling I can’t help but keep returning to Atonement.

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Vintage, 2004

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird probably hardly needs any introduction, and perhaps less so after its recent appearance in the UK press after news it was to be removed from the school curriculum. Told through the eyes of Scout Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird explores race and class in the Deep South as a black man is accused of raping a white girl. Scout’s father Atticus struggles for justice and teaches his children, residents of the town, and readers, many important lessons.

I first read this book for school and again for a university course and it was really interesting to study this at both ends of my education. Reading it again recently, it still held those same important messages and the words still felt as fresh as they did when I first read them. I hope that this book continues to be read, whether it’s part of the curriculum or not, as it’s such an important book with many topics and themes to explore and discuss.

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby F Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Penguin Classics, 2000

Another book which probably needs no introduction – F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Capturing the disillusionment of post-war America and a society obsessed with wealth and status, The Great Gatsby charts Gatsby as he goes in pursuit of his dream.

I’ve reread this a few times, mostly for school/university but for pleasure too. Each time I’ve read it, I’ve got something different out of it, and I think I’ll continue to do so. It was actually the most recent film adaptation that made me pick the book up again because, even though I really enjoyed the film, it couldn’t fit everything from the book into it, so I was eager to read those scenes and nuances that the film couldn’t quite manage to include. It was just as wonderful as I remembered it to be.

The Lighthouse – Alison Moore

The Lighthouse Alison Moore

The Lighthouse – Alison Moore
Salt Publishing, 2012

Middle-aged Futh is embarking on a walking holiday around Germany after separating from his wife. As he starts to walk along the Rhine, he begins to recall earlier trips to Germany with his mother, and the events that have happened in his life. But as Futh continues his holiday, he fails to see the consequences of the things he hasn’t done.

I found out about The Lighthouse and Alison Moore after Salt Publishing followed me on Twitter and I heard nothing but good things about one of their books – The Lighthouse which had just been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. At the time, I was at Uni and had little time to read for fun, but I managed to read this book and I was so glad that I did. The Lighthouse is one of those slow-burning and taut books I enjoy so much. At 183 pages it isn’t a long read, but it’s incredibly powerful and even though it’s been a while since I last read it, I can still remember the feeling turning that last page gave me.

It is written so tautly and sparsely but there’s a tension, intrigue, and menace that simmers through the prose. It’s one of those books where I thought about the ending long after I’d finished. It’s also one of those books where I really admire the writing and would love to be able to create a piece of writing as accomplished – Moore manages to say so much in so little.

The Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter J K Rowling

Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling
Bloomsbury, 1997 – 2007

I can’t talk about rereading books without mentioning Harry Potter. It’s probably quite telling that I haven’t read a series since this one finished. Recently I’ve been thinking about rereading the books again but it feels like a big commitment, especially when there are so many other books on my TBR list. I’ve temporarily satisfied my cravings for the world Rowling created by rewatching the films but, if anything, this has made me want to read the books more…

I don’t remember when I first discovered Harry Potter but I distinctly remember the impact the books have had on me. They were one of the first books I remember reading and thinking that I wanted to be able to write books like this and create a world that everyone wanted to be a part of. The books were enveloping and gripping – I’d read for hours, desperate to know what happened at the end, but sad when I reached the final page. I never queued at midnight to buy the latest book but my Mum used to pre-order it for me so it got delivered home on the release date. I’d normally be off school for the summer and so would have days free to spend reading the book.

Out of all the books, I’ve reread the later ones more because I think the story lines are more complex and the characters more developed. While I know that the books aren’t the greatest pieces of literature, I’m not ashamed to say that I love the Harry Potter books and I’ll definitely reread them again at some point.

 

So that’s it – the books I’ve reread the most often! Have you read, or reread, any of the books I’ve mentioned in this post or part 1?

 

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20 thoughts on “Rereading Books – Part 2

  1. I really enjoyed these two posts on re-reading books and think you have great literary tastes. I struggle with the idea of re-reading books because there are so many new ones in my TBR pile but there are a few that I would like to re-visit.

    From your list, Atonement is definitely a book I would like to return to.

  2. I’ve read all of these books except for The Lighthouse, which I will add to my wishlist now. I’m looking forward to reading the Harry Potter books with my kids. I envision weekend reading sessions in front of the fireplace. Let’s see if the kids find that appealing as well. 🙂 (If not, then I’ll just reread them by myself…)

  3. I own the film Atonement but I haven’t completed the book. I did attempt to read it way back when but I think I was too young to fully appreciate it. I would like to revisit it some time in the future, I always planned to, so thanks for the reminder!

    Also, I read The Great Gatsby not too long ago and I wasn’t as blown away with it as I expected I would be. I think it may be one of those books that I enjoy more when it comes to a reread as opposed to the initial read.

    I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on The Cuckoo’s Calling. I started it last month, or the month before perhaps, but I haven’t actually picked it up since that starting point. I had big hopes for it, I love the communities and people that J. K. Rowling creates, so I don’t know if it is my pedestal or the fact I was going through an iffy period with reading at the time that meant I wasn’t in to it. We’ll see, I do intend to finish it.
    🙂

    • I think The Great Gatsby is one of those books where you can discover something new with rereadings, so you might enjoy it more with a reread 🙂

      Now that we know J.K. Rowling is the author of The Cuckoo’s Calling it can certainly be difficult to start reading the book without any expectations! Hopefully you’ll enjoy it if you get a chance to read it 🙂

  4. YES to all of these 🙂

    I read TKAM at school too, and I’m glad I did because I’m not sure it would have been a book I would have chosen otherwise. I think I worried it would be preaching too hard at me, but actually the life lessons are slotted in nicely with the storyline, so Lee never wades into preaching territory. There’s also so much going on that you always forget some details before rereading.

    When I was younger, I reread the Harry Potter series religiously – rereading them all before the next in the series would come out. However, I only ever read the last two in the series once. Naturally, they are the ones I struggle to remember the plots to, so I’ve promised myself I’ll reread the whole series sometime.

    • I often find there’s something in the plot of the Harry Potter books that I’ve forgotten, so it’s always a joy to reread them! I really should get round to rereading them again soon…

  5. I love To Kill a Mockingbird; Scout has always been one of my favorite literary characters. The story line with her and Boo Radley is one reason I keep going back to this book. (And I reread the Harry Potter books, too. Every time a new one came out I’d find myself going back to all the old ones and rereading them right after. It’s just such a great world that Rowling created–who wouldn’t want to revisit it?) Here’s to rereading great books!!!

  6. I want to start doing some more re-reading. I’ve also re-read the HP series and The Great Gatsby quite a few times. I haven’t done any re-reading this year, which is unusual. I’ve just been trying to get through all the books on my shelves, I guess.

    Thanks for the comment on my post. The T. S. Eliot anthology is certainly a beauty!

    • I think that’s what I like about rereading the Harry Potter series, and other books – not only do you revisit the story, but you revisit how they made you feel the first time you read them.

  7. What a fabulous list! We share a lot of common re-reads (‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, ‘The Great Gatsby’ and the Harry Potter series are ones which I read regularly). I’m working my way through the Harry Potters again at the moment, and it’s such great fun! They might be a good series to read over Christmastime, if you have more time to slot them in then? Also, I can’t now wait to read ‘Orkney’; I bought it from the Blackwells sale a couple of months ago and have been saving it as a kind of ‘treat’ book. Have you read ‘The Still Point’?

  8. Pingback: Death and the Seaside by Alison Moore | The Perfectionist Pen

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