I have this thing about not re-reading books. My TBR pile is enormous these days—it takes up physical and virtual space. I have TBR piles in my bedroom, closet, and library (yes, a whole room dedicated to books. Dreams really do come true sometimes).
My TBR list also exists on an Amazon wish list that numbers in the thousands. I’m not sure I’ll live long enough to read all those books. (In fact, I know I won’t and I add books to the list almost daily with a devil-may-care attitude.)
That’s why I try not to spend a moment re-reading. But, honestly, the pure joy of rereading a book with which I’ve become familiar over time is unparalleled.
Discovery of new books and diversifying my reading is important to me, but I just can’t stop myself from rereading the following five books at least once every couple of years.
1- She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
Lamb is one of my favorite authors. He has such a knack for writing from both a male and female perspective. I know this is a tired accolade for successful male authors, but whatever, it’s true ok? She’s Come Undone was his first novel, which rose to fame on an Oprah-fueled rocket. Its protagonist is smart-mouthed Delores Price who, as the publishers put it “has bed her childhood good-bye.” It is soon to be a movie. Woot!
2-White Oleander by Janet Finch
(What is it with me and Oprah’s Book club?) Astrid’s mother, a renowned poet, is in jail. This novel follows Astrid’s journey through a slew of kooky (and, yes, damaging) foster homes. We see her grow up and watch how her relationship with her mother changes while the two are separated. Also loved the movie.
3- Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott
A good friend gave me this book when she learned I had had a baby at 20. I was a young mother of a young child and that was hard. Anne Lamott’s words helped me through. One of my favorite lines is sleep-deprived Lamott’s description of her sleepless son as he raises his “loathsome reptilian head.” How can you not love her?
4- Another Place at the Table by Kathy Harrison
This amazing woman has cared for more than 100 foster children. The book details her family’s life with the daily ins and outs of caring for children with traumatic histories and uncertain futures. After reading her book, I thought I wanted to be a social worker. It’s that powerful.
5-Goodbye Without Leaving by Laurie Colwin
Colwin has passed on but her work has suddenly become trendy again. This book is a witty look at the life of protagonist Geraldine Colshares who becomes the only white Shakette in a Motown-esque group called Ruby and the Shakettes. When she leaves the group, she settles down to family life with a lawyer husband, kids, and a longing to be part of the music world she left. One of my favorite reviewers of all time, Maureen Corrigan, has a great spot on Colwin’s renewed popularity in recent years.
So here I am again, spurning the mounting TBR pile for a fling with Goodbye Without Leaving.