Friday, November 14, 2014

Most Reread Works

I have been thinking lately about the act of rereading, especially after finishing Patricia Meyer Spacks's thoughtful book On Rereading.  I decided to go back through my listing of all the books I've read and see which ones I've reread the most. (Yes, I keep a tally, with hash-marks.) While I don't do nearly as much rereading as I do first-time reading, I find that I have done a fair amount of it, enough to make this interesting to me. It turns out there are a fair amount of second- and third-time rereads in my list. I guess being an English major trained me in the practice, and I've known for years that rereading is really enjoyable, and, for the best of works, essential.

So, I'll start at the top! The work I've read the most times is, by far, at 11 times:

Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Makes sense, as this is my all-time favorite Shakespeare play.

After that, the reread amounts drop off.

Read 6 times:

Shakespeare, Macbeth
Shakespeare, Richard II

Read 5 times:

Faulkner, Sound and the Fury
Shakespeare, Anthony and Cleopatra
Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Shakespeare, The Tempest
Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida

...there's something of a pattern here. But it spreads out a bit with the next number:

Read 4 times:

Fleming, Thunderball
Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Joyce, Ulysses
Nabokov, Lolita
Pynchon, V
Pynchon, Crying of Lot 49
Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow
Shakespeare, Henry IV Part 1
Shakespeare, King Lear
Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing
Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
Shakespeare, Winter's Tale

The ringer here is the 007 book! I won't list out all the books I've read three times; the list consists mostly of the remainder of Shakespeare and the rest of the James Bond books (I got started on both of those authors pretty early). Other notable 3-time reads:

Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Cooper, The Dark Is Rising series
Homer, Iliad (different translations)
Homer, Odyssey (different translations)
King, The Gunslinger
Milton, Paradise Lost
Nabokov, Ada
Nabokov, Pale Fire
Pullman, His Dark Materials trilogy
Rowling, Harry Potter series
Sorrentino, Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things
Sterne, Tristram Shandy
Tolkien, Lord of the Rings
Twain, Mark, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

As for books I've read twice, there are too many to mention.

Rereading list to get to (from my old reading plan):

Ellroy, James. Older books before LA Quartet, and then Cold 6000 trilogy
Faulkner, William. Absalom, Absalom
Gaddis, William. RecognitionsJR
Joyce, James. Finnegans Wake
Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick
Milton, John. Paradise Lost
Nabokov: GiftEnchanterSebastian Knight, etc.
Pynchon, Thomas. Against the Day
Wallace, David Foster. Infinite Jest

I am currently rereading Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen.  After that, who knows?

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