Books I Couldn’t Live Without

Anyone that knows me would definitely recognize that I’m a book-lover. I’ve been a bibliophile since I was a child, constantly spending my allowance at the Scholastic Book Fairs and then begging my parents for more money because I wasn’t satisfied with the stack of books I’d already purchased.

One thing a lot of people don’t realize, though, is that I’m an avid re-reader of books. Not only do I have a voracious appetite for new titles, finishing a new book about every other week, but I also have an obsession with rereading my favorites.

There are FIVE books that I reread at LEAST once per year.

 

  1. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
  2. White Oleander by Janet Fitch
  3. L’Estrange (The Stranger) by Albert Camus
  4. Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  5. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

 

I was introduced to all five of these titles in school; three out of the five were during middle school.

Why do I keep reading the same books that I did when I was 12-13 as an adult?

No, my reading comprehension isn’t stunted. If you’ve read any of these titles, you’d recognize that most of these are pretty mature books. In fact, only The Neverending Story is truly classified as a children’s book, and it was written in such a way that it’s at a very high-level of literacy.

 

I Love the STORY.

 

TheNeverendingStory

One of the main reasons I reread these titles is because I truly love the story. I’m in love with the hero, I’m in love with the secondary characters, and I have a deep empathy for the plight of the protagonist. Who doesn’t want Bastian Balthazar Bux to save the Childlike Empress and go on a journey with Atreyu?

Man, I love that book.

Emotional Response.

 

FlowersForAlgernon

Another reason I reread these titles is because I find it fascinating how my emotional reaction differs based on my age. When I first read Flowers for Algernon in sixth grade, I hated it. I found the half-illiterate diary entries of Charlie frustrating and I remember the bitter taste of inferiority when his intelligence and knowledge surmounted my own. The crushing fall of his intelligence only angered me further – why would Keyes end the story with a dead mouse and a dumb patient?

As an adult, I find it one of the most poignant stories I’ve ever experienced. It reminds me that everything in life is fleeting – our looks, our intelligence, our relationships – and we must do as much as we can in the limited time we’re given. I also value the moral of the story that Keyes so eloquently delivers: simplicity begets peaceful happiness. The more Charlie Gordon learned, the more he realized he would never know. As his I.Q. trumped those around him, he could no longer stand their company and he craved the innocence and naivete of his ignorance.

My Personal Growth.

 

white

Finally, I think the primary reason I fins myself revisiting these titles is because I like to see the growth and maturity in myself. I see so many nuances in the story that I had overlooked in my childhood; there is so much more depth in the pages than I could understand in my youth!

For example – when I first read White Oleander, I saw it as a wild and crazy teenage girl, rebelling and seeking love. While that was true, in part, it was only a small element of Astrid’s story. Beauty, love, growth, guilt, sex. There was so much complication and darkness… and yet Astrid finally found her light. A damaged teenage girl’s coming-of-age story that I couldn’t fully understand until I was no longer a teenager myself. Funny how we sometimes have to distance ourselves from our present in order to better understand it.

******

While I am constantly on the search for new authors and new titles (I’m on a Tom Robbin’s kick right now!), I find myself returning to these titles every few months and I don’t see this changing in the near future. Perhaps I’ll add a few titles to the mix – I’ve got my eye on Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaimen – but I don’t see any of these five getting cut any time soon.

Am I the only one that does this? Or is this common among my fellow readers? I encourage you to share your own personal favorites in the comments!

Optimistic for a book-filled weekend!

~ Victoria Elizabeth
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2 thoughts on “Books I Couldn’t Live Without

  1. 1st, i wanted to say that i loved your poem the other day and was in too much of a hurry to say so..2nd, i’ll have to read a few of those, after all, any girl that plans to spend the weekend curled-up with ANY Tom Robbins book, has brilliant taste!

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    • Thank you so much! I actually just got an acceptance letter for that poem to e published, so I’m glad to know it was enjoyed! If you like Tom Robbins, you will enjoy White Oleander – it’s basically the same principals but with a negative viewpoint. A reverse point of view, but extremely well executed.

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