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Confessions of a Read-Me-Once Reader: Twelve Books Worth Reading Twice

Maybe you’ve experienced this, you read a book once and you’ve got it.  That’s it.  It’s a good book, but you know how it is going to end, so why would you read it again?

Who are these people?  Why would they do such a thing?  I mean we’ll go out and buy DVDs and watch them multiple times to no end, why not give books the same courtesy?

I confess, I am one of those people.  I know, I know, try not to stone me all at once.

I CAN say, however, there are a handful of books that have merited a second read, even knowing what is going to happen, and how things end up.

Twelve Books Worth Reading Twice (from a girl’s perspective)

1) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Have you given Darcy and Elizabeth a chance?  If not, DO.  It will be one of the most rewarding reads you ever endeavor at.  There are many film adaptations, but none of them does the justice of Austen’s sweeping tale.  I blush to admit, the first time I read it, I knew nothing of Jane Austen, I was 14 or 15, and thought that Mr. Darcy was a pig.  Until the very end when Austen pulls out all of the stops, I was rooting for Mr. Wickham.  Oh the power of an author’s manipulation.

2) Emma by Jane Austen – Okay, if you yawn easily while reading, this one you may want to take in small doses.  The first time through, the middle chapters were a bit dry (to a 13-year-old), but there is SO much there.  There is such intricate storytelling in those pages, Austen keeps you guessing just as she does in her others.  This one is different from Austen’s others as the other heroines of her stories don’t hold a position, or a respectable amount of money.  Emma Woodhouse is quite different.  Well worth two reads.

3) Mansfield Park by Jane Austen – You’ve guessed it, I’m a bit of Janeite.  The special quality of this one is the psychological manipulation again.  Austen gets the reader into the world and then shows you the tentacles of the octopus, Mary Crawford.  Austen has this rare talent of being able to tell a story that could have actually happened in the time period in which she was writing.  Jane Austen actually had a bit of a hard test set before her while she was writing.  Her books actually fall toward the end of the Enlightenment Era and just into the Romantic Era.  The Romantic Era is known for it’s creative imagery and stories.  They’re fantastical, that’s just the style of it.  To put a simple character like Fanny Price in a book published in an era with popular books such as Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and have it still be popular today – that says something.

4) Persuasion by Jane Austen – Not to be redundant, but this woman really knew how to tell a story.  Never have a I read a tale in which the hero of the story is so torn.  Austen employs her artful storytelling to take you on a journey that spans more than seven years.  In my mind, that takes talent.  To be able to keep the story going for seven years in the diegesis of the book – that is talent if I ever saw it.

5) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen – I was hesitant to read this one the first time.  Two snarky sisters on either side of practical and crazy on the personality scale trying to survive when they’re kicked out of their house?  Something about it just sounded like a cop-out.  As I read, I could clearly see that one sister was the sensible one, and those other had the feminine sensibilities.  The oddest part?  The first time I read it, I identified with Elinor the sensible one as I usually see through people and usually make sound decisions as opposed to rash ones.  The second time, I was horrified to find that I saw some Marianne-like tendencies.  It is an interesting look at being practical versus the alternative and how you can change over time.

6) Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen – This is the last Austen, I swear!  Just like watching shows or movies more than once, you notice different things.  The first time I read this, I thought that Isabella Thorpe was a good person, and had Catherine’s best interest at heart.  (Thus the ending came as a bit of a surprise).  The second time it was more obvious to me that Isabella was not Catherine’s real friend, but merely a girl with an agenda.  This one is also interesting as it is a bit of a spoof on the gothic literature of the time.

7) Princess in Love by Meg Cabot – If you haven’t picked up the Princess Diaries Series, don’t rely fully on the films.  While Anne Hathaway is a perfect reincarnation of Mia Thermopolis, the films took certain liberties.  This one being the third book in the series, is the cutest teenage love story I have ever found.  Find it.  You will not be disappointed.

8) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – This one comes as a surprise to me every time I find it on my shelf.  I am a sucker for happy endings, and this is one of those books that makes you want to throw it at the wall when it is through.  (Maybe even before it is through . . . .)  I won’t spoil the ending for those of you who haven’t read it, but the imagery and depiction of the post-World War I 1920s is positively phenomenal.  Must read.

9) The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton – Well there’s a curve ball out of left field, huh?  I think everyone goes through a period in their life where they want to be a rebel.  For me, that was seventh grade.  It was a tradition in my family, almost, to pick up this book or the sequel, (That Was Then This is Now), and read it as a coming of age thing.  My mom did it, my brother did it, and I found myself at twelve doing it.  If you haven’t given S. E. Hinton a chance, she is fresh, different, and writes for men surprisingly well.

10) The Dear America Series The Royal Diaries Anastasia: the Last Grand Duchess by Carolyn Meyer – You may notice that many of these books are in the young adult genre.  We’re all going read books that shape us, affect us in some way, sometimes even make us recognize our own failings and make us better people.  Okay, maybe not, but books are a form of entertainment that give the audience a bit of creative license that is unique to the medium.  I’ve always been fascinated by the rumors and tales of what happened the Romanov family – did Anastasia survive?  And yes, the 20th Century Fox movie may have a lot to do with that.  That legend of Anastasia’s survival has given the family a notoriety that has transcended time.  This book gives an interesting look into the lives of the Romanov family before their demise.  Sometimes it is good for us to see these historical figures as the people they were, and more than a wives’ tale.

11) Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare – Didn’t see that one coming did you?  Read this one on a whim after watching 10 Things I Hate About You which is loosely based upon the play.  My first perception of the play left me thinking that Heath Leger was jumping out though the pages, funny collar and all.  The second time I read it, I realized what kind of fun Shakespeare was actually poking at relationships.  The premise of the play is for a man to tame the woman he’s going to marry, as she’s got quite a sharp tongue.  Somehow, it isn’t quite as insulting as it sounds – only Shakespeare could do this.

12) Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers – This list really is a mix bag, huh?  Only the second book in the genre that I ever read, this book opened my eyes to the crafting of writing that allowed for the Holy Spirit to shine through without being preachy.  Only Francine Rivers could take a character like Sarah, who has sunken so low, and bring her up before the Lord to be changed forever.  It reminds readers that the love is always there, forgiveness is always there.  This one would be good for a third and even a fourth read.  Sometimes we all need reminding.

What about you?  What are your twelve?  Do you think I’m crazy?  You probably do, but I already knew that.  I accept it, because if I wasn’t crazy, I wouldn’t be me.

Happy Reading!

– A. R. Conti Fulwell ><>

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