Re-reading can be a bit of a controversial topic among book-lovers. Some people seem to think that you haven’t really read a book at all until you’ve read it at least twice. Others consider re-reading to be a waste of time—why read the same book again when there are so many new books out there? Personally, I’ve always felt that you get something new out of a book each time you re-read it. Maybe it’s because I grew up as part of the Harry Potter generation, or because I used to read a random chapter of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn every single night before bed, but re-reading beloved books is just about my favorite way to relax (and, coincidentally, the reason that my bookshelf is an overstuffed nightmare). Here are a few of the most frequently re-read books in the literary canon, according to the “Popular to Reread Books” shelf on Goodreads.
Some of these books are childhood favorites that get read and re-read until their spines disintegrate entirely. Others seem to be books we all read back in high school or middle school; books we’re now finally mature enough to truly understand (or which are upsettingly relevant in the year 2018). Whatever the reason, people can’t get enough of these classic works of fiction:
- The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I’m honestly a little surprised to see Gatsby topping this list. I mean yes, sure, it’s absolutely one of the “Great American Novels” or whatever. And yes, it has inspired many, many swinging theme parties (most of which seem to miss the point that Fitzgerald was trying to make, but I won’t turn my nose up at flapper dresses and champagne). But The Great Gatsby wouldn’t be my first thought for a cozy, nostalgic re-read, unless you’re comforted by the total disintegration of the American Dream. Although… I guess watching a sad rich boy destroy himself is still quite appealing.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee
As far as re-reading books, To Kill a Mockingbird is the perfect storm: we all read it in school, it has the nostalgic air of childhood about it, it introduced a lot of us to ideas about systemic injustice, and it’s still very relevant in America today though I think we can all agree it’s time to move past the white savior narrative. We might not have the same uncritical admiration for Atticus Finch reading the book now, but Lee’s first novel still packs a punch.
3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ by J.K. Rowling
Of course. Harry Potter is a bestseller several hundred times over, and most true fans have read the series two, or three, or ten times all the way through. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the book that started it all, as well as the least complicated, most adorable book in the series.
4. 1984′ by George Orwell
Yeah, it’s no secret that 1984 is back on the bestseller’s list. It rocketed up 9,500 percent in sales following Trump’s inauguration. So I think it’s safe to say that this is less of a cuddly, whimsical re-read, and more a politically motivated attempt to make sense of this administration’s Orwellian tactics.
5. The Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger
Honestly, I’m glad that someone out there is re-reading The Catcher in the Rye. It just gets so much hate. I’m going to go on the public record and say that I liked Holden Caulfield when I read this book in ninth grade. He was a whiny brat, yes, but so was I, and I imagine that many other angsty teens felt similarly. Clearly, some of those teens are coming back to an old favorite as angsty adults.