To ask an English major, book lover, and general literature nerd to name a book you could read over and over again is akin to asking a mother of 69 to pick her favorite child. So, instead of just listing one, I’m going to give you my current top 5 picks off my bookshelf of books to reread.

  1. Lord of the Rings, by J.R. Tolkien; Considering that I’m slogging through my 12th time reading this series, it should be pretty obvious that these are books that I can come back to repeatedly. I would also include The Hobbit in this, as well, because how can you in good conscience separate the trilogy from its predecessor?
  2. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte; Those Bronte sisters really knew how to write about abusive relationships, didn’t they? But there is something about Jane Eyre in particular, probably her approach to life and her way of observing the world and the people around her that makes this book fascinating. I don’t know how many times I’ve read this book, but I do know that every time I do I see something new.
  3. Persuasion, by Jane Austen; Most people rave about Pride and Prejudice as their favorite Austen novel. Personally, Persuasion is much more my speed. Nothing against Lizzy, but Anne has a maturity and confidence in her own abilities that I find more reasonable to strive for, and more attainable, than the effervescent qualities of humor and laughter in Austen’s other heroine. I aspire to be Anne, is what I’m saying, so how could I not read this book again?
  4. Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo; Okay, this one is obviously a beast. I have only read this book in its entirety once, although I do intend to read it again from beginning to end at some point in the future. In the meantime, I always enjoy reading pieces of the story repeatedly. I’ll often just open my big volume and start reading from whatever chapter I have opened to. That counts as rereading, right?
  5. At Home in Mitford, by Jan Karon; This is in a different tone from the others listed here. While the others are recognized as classics, Karon’s work is definitely contemporary, being published in the mid-’90s. Set in the small town of Mitford in rural North Carolina, this book is the first of a series (The Mitford Years) that focuses on Episcopalian rector, Father Tim, and his life in this community. From Father Tim adopting a dog the size of a Buick to the stray boy who ends up tracking mud and obscenity into the rectory to Miss Sadie’s love and generosity in all things but money to the group of men to eat at the Grill every day, All the characters and situations have a ring of truth to them (as anyone who grew up in a small town can tell you), and they will all steal your heart. What is there not to love?

Now obviously I could have gone on to list ten, twenty, fifty more. And it all depends on mood, too. If I’m in the mood for a guilty pleasure, I might pick up a Nicholas Sparks novel. If I’m in the mood to cry, I might go for Little Women. Lately, these stand-by tomes have been calling my name, though, so you’ll excuse me if I just go and read a favorite chapter to two….

-Wilber

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