In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray lives the same day over and over again.
Well in homage, today’s blog is devoted to the books that I read over and over again.
First of all, let me tell you that I am not a big re-reader. There are several reasons why that is. One is that I have a very good memory, not photographic or perfect, but good enough that I usually remember books that I read 20 years ago pretty exactly. Second, I prefer to experience something new in search of the next Great Find than repeating works.
Sometimes, I may look up a passage or phrase that I remember in a certain book and then become so engrossed that I start re-reading the whole thing again. This happened recently when I wanted to use the phrase “droit de seigneur.” I was paralyzed because I couldnt remember if it was spelled droit de seigneur or droit du seigneur (turns out that either spelling is acceptable) so I decided to look up the very memorable section in Bertrice Small’s Skye O’Malley and before I knew it, I was going over Skye’s first marriage to the cruel Dom, her ill-fated second marriage to the Whoremonger of Algiers, her return to England and her marriage #3 to some selfish rake, her forced affair with the Earl of Dudley, and on and on.
I. Could. Not. Put. It. Down.
Skye is inexhaustable but I was exhausted reading her adventures but Small tells her story incorporating very dense historical details among all the melodrama. It makes for a rich reading experience that has stood the test of time.
Homer’s Odyssey is the book I have re-read the most (about 10 times). Half of those times was because I was trying out different translations. I read the Lattimore translation. I read the Fagles. I read Alexander Pope’s translation. But I always go back to the Robert Fitzgerald translation from the 1960s. To me, it’s the most poetical translation and best captures its lyrical epic qualities.
The story itself just fires my imagination. It has everything. The hubris of Odysseus. The misandry of Circe. Men eaten by cyclops. The girlish softness of Nausicaa. The strong, resourceful constantness of Penelope. The faithfulness of poor Argos, the dog. And always, the universal theme of wanting to go back home.
Top Five Romances I Have Re-reads the Most:
1. Uncommon Vows – Mary Jo Putney (9 times)
2. Forbidden — Jo Beverley (8 times)
3. The Painted Lady — Lucia Grahame (6 or 7 times)
4. The Conquest — Jude Deveraux (probably my all-time favorite romance novel)
5. The Sinner — Madeline Hunter (5 times)