I love to read to stretch myself, sure. I love to read new books, challenging books, books that wreck me or make me think or change me. But sometimes, a woman just needs to read good, familiar, comfort books for the good of her own soul.

I don’t purchase a book these days unless I’ve already read it, and know that I love it. Libraries are for my one-shot wonders. So almost every book in my house has been read multiple times. But these are the ten books that I have read literally dozens of times. I take them to coffee shops, I have passages memorized, I take them to the beach, on car trips, to the backyard, to bed and then I stay up too late reading a book that I’ve already read a hundred times – go figure.

They are so supremely satisfying, I never tire of them.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I’ve worn out three copies now. I never tire of this book. It is intense, sweeping, and consuming.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This was the first American novel that really captured my heart. I read it in Grade 10 English class, stole my copy from Mr. Hoff’s classroom, and then wore it out with re-reading. I still love it, I never tire of it, its unforgettable, compelling, brilliant. And Brian had to really go to the mats with me because I was determined to name our son Atticus which he thought was unreasonable. Piffle.

Persuasion by Jane Austen. This lesser-known novel of Jane Austen’s is one of my two favourites of hers. Anne is a wonderful character, the story is comic, genius, mellow, simply superb. And the climax, in particular the letter from Captain Wentworth, well. SWOON.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Another Austen but it can’t be help. The book spine doesn’t line. This book is the definition of felicity, and I will never cease loving the Dashwood sisters. Drat that Willoughby.

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. Almost the entire catalogue of L.M. Montgomery books should be here, they are my ultimate comfort books, I’ve worn out every paperback, but I chose just this one. The characters are an absolute delight, and it’s just a plain happy-ending satisfying read. It’s also quite funny.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Jazz Age, restless, ferocious, unrequited love. And don’t even get me started about the writing. (If you’re unconvinced, check out Megan Tietz’s love letter to Gatsby….”In order to understand Gatsby, you have to have had your heart broken.”) And did you hear? A movie!

The Reading Group: A Novel by Elizabeth Noble. I have a weakness, and her name is British chick-lit. Elizabeth Noble is one of my favourites in that maligned genre, and this is my favourite one. It follows a group of women in a book club (books! more books! English characters talking about books!). It’s funny, more insightful and complicated than you’d guess by the cover. It’s a great book for a glass of white wine on a summer evening.

The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver tells the story of a ferocious, god-in-my-own-image missionary, his wife, and their four daughters. They travel to the Congo in 1959, and every single thing they brought with them is woefully ill-suited for life in Africa. The book tells the story of the family’s undoing, tragic, slow, relentless against the backdrop of colonialism and revolution.  I actually missed Ada when the book ended, she was such an interesting narrator. The setting, the tragedy, the writing, the story itself, I find something new almost every time I read it.

The Forgotten Garden: A Novel by Kate Morton. I love a good mystery. And this is a good mystery. You might not want to start this one if you want to get anything done for the next day or two.

Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson. This book is absolutely exquisite. I can’t barrel through it, like the others, but I re-read it often. It’s is simply a beautiful, flawless books, a hymn of praise to ordinary things and ordinary passions, it’s a psalm and a poem.

Honourable mention: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I love, love, loved this book. So delightful, interesting. I missed the characters when it ended, actually missed them. And of course, Harry Potter series. I re-read the entire series every year or so. The problem with that is that once I pick up the first one, just as a little treat, a quick snack, i don’t get anything done for the next two weeks while I obsessively read all seven books, cover to cover, once again.

Your turn: What books have battered spines in your house? What books do you read over and over, for comfort?

 

We’re talking about 10 Books a Day for a Week. Share your own favourites on your blog, and post your link in the comments, or just let me know what you think or recommend. I love to snoop bookshelves, and this is my excuse – and yours – to talk books.

Sunday: 10 books that changed my faith

Monday: 10 books that influence my parenting

Tuesday: 10 books by Canadians I wish the world would read

Wednesday: 10 books for tinies and 10 books for older tinies

Thursday: 10 books I read over and over (and over)

Friday: 10 spiritual memoirs

Saturday: My daily books + 10 books of poetry

Disclosure: Affiliate links used. 

In which I share 10 books for tinies
In which I share 10 (okay, technically 14) spiritual memoirs
thank you for sharing...
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  • kristin

    I had given up fiction for a while…then my mom let me borrow The Forgotten Garden. Oh did I ever look forward to baby’s nap time for that week! I devoured that book and stayed up too late to finish it. 

    • Tdowning26

      Me too! My hubby turned the tv and the light off on me. That God I was reading on my Nook.

  • The Blue Castle is I think my favorite stand-alone book by LM Montgomery. (Do you see how carefully I had to qualify that? I’ve read everything she’s ever written over and over.) I think more than most of her others, it’s a love letter to the Canadian wilds. And Valancy is such a great character. She’s my secret inspiration sometimes to do the things I want to do instead of the things I feel like I ought to do to satisfy other people’s expectations. Oh, I want to go read this right now…

  • JennaDeWitt

    This list!! I knew I liked you.

    Other thoughts:
    *small gasp* A Montgomery book I haven’t read?!
    Was totally going to suggest Guernsey about halfway through reading the list. Then I saw it was already on the list. haha
    Persuasion is my favorite Austen, hands down.
    (Saw Preston’s tweet.) You totally picked the right Bronte. Emily wrote some under-rated poetry, but Wuthering Heights was sheer disappointment after Jane Eyre.

    Love this whole series. You can always read a person by their bookshelves.

    • I adore Emily Bronte’s poetry. Sadly, her sisters encouraged her to abandon her poetry and write novels…not the best choice for her.

      • JennaDeWitt

         I know, right? I was doing a paper that required academic criticism of her poetry and only found TWO vague references! (Granted, this was quite a while ago, pre-Web 2.0, but still…)

  • My top three rereads – along with Jane Eyre –  are The Red Tent (Anita Diamant), Till We Have Faces (CS Lewis), and Pride & Prejudice (Austen). My life changes every time I read them and I would be incomplete without them.

    • Tiffany Norris

      Oh, yes, Till We Have Faces is so good! I’ve only read it once, but it’s definitely on the to-be-read-again list!

  • KatR

    The Time Traveler’s Wife. Audrey Niffeneger takes what could be woo woo science fiction and grounds it so thoroughly in reality, time travel becomes totally plausible. Plus, a fantasic, love story.

  • Kelley Johnson

    Well, I am not a fiction person generally.  So for comfort I reread Everything Belongs, The Writing Life, An American Childhood (Also by Annie Dillard), and Awed to Heaven (prayers of W. Brueggemann) and A Timbered Choir (poetry of Wendell Berry), Polishing the Potosky Stone (poems by Luci Shaw) and the Crosswicks Journals.  Also… for comfort I reread cookbooks!  Ina Garten,, Donna Hay, Tom Colichio, Jamie Oliver and my favorite pastry chef, Emily Luchetti, are my go-tos.

    • Bree

      Ditto the cookbooks! 

    • I love Luci Shaw… I’m always amazed at how few people even know who she is. I love the Crosswicks Journals too.

  • I’ve read most of these and adding a few to my list. I cannot believe I’ve missed the Blue Castle. Kate Morton is one of my favorites, I’ve given away the Forgotten Garden to so many friends and read it in our book club. Her new one is out in September. I learned about a wonderful bookstore in England through her called Persephone. Have you heard of it? They publish authors from the early 20th century who were overlooked for publishing but are great writers, mostly women.  Every time I go I pick up a couple more, never disappointed. Enjoying your lists, thank you for sharing.

  • Becominggold2310

    Two of my many many rereads….A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Memoirs of a Geisha 🙂

  • Kathleen Quiring

    I actually don’t really do this (read books over and over). I get panic attacks when I contemplate all the books I haven’t yet read that I want to read before I die. And I’m a very slow reader (and I majored in English literature!), which intensifies my panic. So most books get only one reading from me.

    One book I’ve relished multiple times (OK, twice), however, is C. S. Lewis’ Perelandra. My favourite parts of the book are his descriptions of the Venusian landscape — the shifting floating islands against the golden sky, bursting with colourful fruit and  bubble trees . . . And don’t even get me started on the descriptions of the guiding spirits. I have those pages marked off so I can go back and read them, any time I need to be reminded that there is beauty in the universe (even if it came from Lewis’ brain).

    • Tiffany Norris

      I have the same trouble balancing the old and the new! And I had no idea I would like Perelandra (and the other two in the trilogy) as much as I did. Amazing books!

    • kim

      Loved Perelandra. His trilogy is my favorite of any of Lewis’ books.

  • Amylepinepeterson

    I re-read Pride&Prejudice, the works of LM Montgomery and LM Alcott, and the Betsy-Tacy books ( please, try these for Anne! I’m a Betsy-Tacy evangelist.). I also have to admit that I’ve read The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhoodca number of times.

    Here’s my list of ten lovely modern American novels: http://www.amylepinepeterson.com

  • kim

    Hmm. Over and over, huh? Well, of course, “To Kill a Mockingbird” – is the best thing ever penned – atle ast if you are from the South. ( Atticus was a great idea for a name.) Everytime that I read it, I see/feel more, and everytime, I cry my way through it. 

    I love Calvin Miller’s, “The Singer,” poetic prose…It doesn’t take more than thirty minutes to read through it. Who knows how often I have read it to myself or to others. 

    Of course, Wrinkle and it’s companions: WInd in the Door, Swifty Tilting Planet. ( L’Engle)

    My favorite southern author, well, maybe tied with Pat Conroy, Rick Bragg: “All Over but the Shoutin’,” “Ava’s Man.” I read “The Most They Ever Had” to my classes every semester.

    Pat Conroy’s cookbook. It is a delight to read. He also includes fabulous recipes. 

    “Ragamuffin Gospel.” It’s good to hear Brennan’s voice from time to time. 

    And I love Madeleine L’Engle’s, “Dance in the Desert.” I read it every year. 

    •  I’ve never heard of Dance in the Desert…oh my goodness.  That looks beautiful. 

  • Marina Lehman

    Do I have to tell you?  Do I have to?  I mean, I could just say that The Blue Castle is also one of my read-over-and-overs (and for those of you who haven’t read it – do it!), along with Jane Eyre, and that I really should give a first read-over to some of these.  But it wouldn’t be quite honest to not admit that the whole “Twilight” series is for me what “Harry Potter” is for you.  Every once in a while I pick up the first one (which is definitely the best) for just a little teeny read, and before I know it I’m emerging, blinking, three days later.  *sigh*   

  • Elizabeth

    I’m so glad Poisonwood Bible is on your list.  What a brilliant, brilliant book.  I loved it on many levels.  Also, I grew up in Africa (in a country that neighbours the Congo) and I recognized many people and places and details.  

  • Brittaney

    I remember reading The Reading Group and laughing and crying. At the time I really wished I was part of a group like that, because I felt so isolated. I’m a huge fan of historical fiction. Have you read any Julie Klassen books? She has an Austen writing style. I also really love anything by Siri Mitchell and Laura Frantz. Mitchell’s book Love’s Pursuit wrecked me with its stark picture of love and grace.

  • I think we’re in a fight now because you put Persuasion and S&S up there, but not Pride & Prejudice. ; )

  • Yes! I have such a hard time making lists, this has been burning at me all week. And of course, the one I forgot was on your list (To Kill a Mockingbird) but I am too lazy to go revise. Here are my top 9 novels (and 4 great creative non-fictions writers): http://dlmayfield.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/10-books-a-day-or-13-in-my-case/. So excited that I have some new books to check out from the library. This has been so fantastic!

  • … maybe it’s time for me to pick up Jane Eyre, The Poisonwood Bible, Sense & Sensability, and To Kill a Mockingbird again …

    Anybody up for Gone with the Wind, The Red Tent, or a good John Grisham novel?

    •  GWTW is such an awesome book.

      • My copy is probably 45 years old, a paperbook with front and back covers long gone, the pages so fragile that I’m not sure it’ll hold up to one more reading …

    • The Red Tent is probably my all-time favourite book. I grieve it every time I finish it.

  • Timothy Moody

    Lots of great books on your list and from others in the comment section.  One book I have read over and over and will continue to read is Pat Conroy’s enthralling novel “The Prince of Tides.”  It is a tough, often brutal book, tragic and dismaying at times, but the writing is so lyrical and simply captivating.  I like the book because it includes about every human emotion, conflict, dysfunction and family disaster you can think of.  But it is also a book that explores personal courage and it unveils the unfailing truth that love carries for all of us such redeeming power.  

    http://theuncladsoul.blogspot.com

  • YES to L.M. Montgomery, and Harry Potter, and Guernsey. I reread To Kill a Mockingbird last year for the first time in nearly a decade, and I was blown away all over again.

    I also reread The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice about once a year – such an utterly charming story – and I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. And I love me some Mitford. Also Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos.

  • You have a few on your list that I’ve tried to read, but just couldn’t get into.  I’ll give them another go…

    I tend to reread books from my childhood.  Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan, Beauty by Robin McKinley, and Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson are a few of my favorites.

    • Jacob Have I Loved was the first book I remember that made me cry. It has been one of my all time favorites ever since.

  • I haven’t read any good fiction in a long time…eager to try some of these out, minus Austen.  I just can’t get into her.  But my daughter loves her, which is surprising to me.  So we enjoy the movies together 🙂 My list today is on books about art/writing/faith.  http://www.carisadel.com/712/books-on-art-and-writing/ 

  • Val

    here’s your chuckle for the day.   Peyton has to read “Gatsby” for a summer pre-ap reading assignment and SHE HATES IT !!!  I told her it was one of your “most favorite, re-read, go to books of all time” and she looked at me and sighed and said, “Well……..guess I’ll try to read it again, if Ms Sarah loves it, maybe I am missing something.”    lol

  • Emily

    I love To Kill A Mockingbird! One of my absolute favourites! The other books I wear out are Lord of the Rings. I just finished reading the trilogy for the 12th time!! 

  • I can’t even believe that I haven’t read that L.M. Montgomery book. Off to the library!  My own top reads (which ended up being 6 instead of 10, but at least 2 were series) http://www.expectinghope.com/2012/07/10-books-week-10-fiction-books-i-read.html

  • Harry Potter, definitely 🙂 Add to that the Lord of the Rings series too. And in terms of a L’engle back catalouge, the series about the Austin family is falling apart completely on my bookshelf – Meet the Austins, The Moon by Night, and especially the final one A Ring of Endless Night. The entire Time series too really (A Wrinkle in time especially).
    And in terms of newly discovered and greatly addictive, the Heirs of Cahira O’Conner series by Angela Elwell Hunt – The Silver Sword, The Golden Cross, The Velvet Shadow, and The Emerald Isla. Love those gutsy female leads. 🙂

  • I love your list! As I’m currently in the middle of trying to read 52 books this year, I need all the suggestions I can get. Here’s a few of my favorites from the first six months of my reading challenge: 
    http://talltara.com/for-the-love-of-books/

    Thanks for sharing!

    • bigbonjovifan

      I adore GWTW & read it at least once a year. I find a new nuance to just about every charcter every time I re-read it. (I admit I’ve read the “sequels”. None compare to GWTW.) To Kill A Mockingbird is also one of my all time favorite re-reads. It gets me every time! My Enemy The Queen, is always intriguing. I also love Fried Green Tomatoes. Fannie Flag is insightful & has good, strong, FUNNY females in her books. Going to give some of y’alls suggestions a try. (Accept Austen. I can’t get into her.) I

  • I’ve never read Elizabeth Noble or Kate Morton! I’ll have to check those two out.

    I love all the others on your list though.

    My absolute favorite author is Georgette Heyer. She wrote romances, mysteries, and some historical nonfiction. There are about 60 of them altogether, so I re-read some every year, and get through them all about every 5 years or so. I always describe her as “like Jane Austen, but funnier”. If you’ve never read her, start with The Grand Sophy or False Colours! 🙂

    Lately I’ve been re-reading some of my old Mary Stewarts. I forgot how sweet they are.

    • Handsfull

      YES to Georgette Heyer!

  • Persuasion is absolutely my favourite Austen. I read it over and over. Here’s a recommendation for you which has a nice Persuasion link – Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. Early 20th century novel in which the heroine, who wants to be a writer, says ‘I’d like to write a novel as good as Persuasion’ – it’s gorgeous. I think you’d love it, if you don’t know it – and the mid 90s movie of it, with a young Kate Beckinsale, is a classic! 

    I only heard about Gilead a while ago – and it’s on my absolutely must read soon list.

    As for the Forgotten Garden, you’re so right about not achieving anything while reading it. I’ve got it as an audiobook and I listened obsessively for about a week because I couldn’t put it down!

    Great list!

  • Samantha

    The Blue Castle is my favorite of L.M. Montgomery’s! And I really love The Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter. If you have never read it you should give it a shot!

    • Handsfull

      Have you read ‘Freckles’, which is the first book about the Limberlost?  I think I like it almost more than Girl of the Limberlost 🙂

      • Samantha

        I am currently waiting for it to come in at the library.

  • Oh, The Great Gatsby. That book makes me swoon. 
    ”In order to understand Gatsby, you have to have had your heart broken.” That quote describes it perfectly.  I read To Kill A Mockingbird in 10th grade too. I loved it so much my mom bought me a beautiful hardcover copy of it. And I’m glad I’m not the only one who stole a copy of a book from a classroom (it was purely accidental!)

  • Joy

    Oh. My. Goodness.  This is my first comment ever here, and I just have to say that you are a kindred!! My favorite novel EVER is Jane Eyre, with a close second being To Kill a Mockingbird.  Guernsey is one of my very favorites as well, and Persuasion, well, yes!! One of my new favorites is Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry, wow. That is all I can say about it. Simple, touching, deep, and soul-moving. Another is my all-time favorites is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. 
    There are only a couple that I haven’t read on your list, and I’m excited to dig into them. 🙂 Thanks!

    • Rainewhittaker

       My new fav. is Hannah Coulter, I’m looking forward to reading his others in the series. And YES to A Tree Grows In Brooklyn.

  • Nurse Bee

    I love “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffeneger.  Read it first several years ago, and often pull it out when I don’t have any library books (one of my daughters is even named Clare, because I loved the name so much after reading it). 

  • Tiffany Norris

    I am loving this series! Here are my picks: http://tiffanynorris.blogspot.com/2012/07/10-favorite-re-readers.html

  • Handsfull

    Love your lists, and I’m very pleased to see a LM Montgomery book that I haven’t read yet!  One of my all-time favourites is by Gerald Durrell, called My Family and Other Animals.  It was the first book that I laughed out loud at.  It’s a gorgeously written story of his rather dysfunctional family’s stay in Corfu just before the start of WWII. 

  • Emily Wierenga

    the poisonwood bible is one of my all-time faves, girl. and i love the poetry in gilead. i’m going to have to look into some of the others. thank you for this… i’ve been needing a good read.

  • I read The Reading Group recently – it was on a display at the library where I work, and I picked it up. I was surprised at how wonderful it was. I need to read some of her other books!

    I don’t reread books very often. But these are the ones I do reread: http://bluebonnetreads.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/the-books-i-read-over-and-over-again/

  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE every single word ever written by Barbara Kingsolver, and The Poisonwood Bible was my first. And of course, To Kill a Mockingbird is like comfort food for the soul. Thanks again for all these recommendations. 

  • I am loving this series and having so much fun participating at 
    http://neyhart.blogspot.com/. Thank you!

  • Wow, great list. I have read and loved all of these except The Reading Group and that’s because I’ve never heard of it. Going to borrow it now. Thanks.

  • Oh how I love your lists of books…

    Jane Austen’s works always make the to read list(my mother’s day present was a beautiful annotated copy of Persuasion…large and lovely on beautiful paper. I adore it). 

    For me, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Pride and Prejudice(Elizabeth makes Darcy the man is at the end of the book), Lord of the Rings, Til We Have Faces (rereading it now), too many more to choose…

  • Amylee

    definitely some great reads in the pile – just finished “DISTANT HOURS” by KATE MORTON i think you’d like it

  • Diana Lark

    I am SO glad that you mentioned “Persuasion”! This one gets very little attention, overshadowed by the sparkling dialogue of “Pride and Prejudice” and the sweeping, heartbreaking melodrama of “Sense and Sensibility”. But “Persuasion” is my favorite, and i think it may be Austen’s best. It is such a grown-up, real story. It has its share, of course, of melodrama and sparkle, but it is so warm and honest and solid.

  • Gwyn_Sully

    Your list shares a lot in common with mine.  I am actually in the middle of rereading the Poisonwood Bible now, and The Great Gatsby is next on my list of books to read again.  There’s a couple on there I haven’t read, which I will have to check out, and I would add Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley (or Sunshine… or Outlaws of Sherwood… or pretty much everything she’s ever written).  My copy of that is completely falling apart.

  • Lindsay

    What a great list! Makes me want to re-read To Kill a Mockingbird and some of my Austen books as well. Got me thinking about all the books I’ve loved: 
    http://lindsaytweedle.com/10-of-my-very-favourite-novels/ The Forgotten Garden was definitely one of the best I’ve read in a while. 🙂

  • Wow…our lists are quite similar…but you have a few on there I’ve never read so I’m excited to have some new books to read. I’m especially stoked about The Blue Castle. Anne of Green Gables, etc. have been favorites since I was a kid. Can’t believe I didn’t know she had other books! LOVE this series you’re doing this week. May have to swipe it…but I’m not nearly as well read in so many categories so maybe I’ll do top 5 lists. 

  • Lisa

    I have a coffee mug (from Etsy) that says in beautiful handwritten script “I am half agony, half hope.” From Captain Wentworth’s letter. 🙂 I am a total Austen geek, so it makes me so happy that Persuasion made your list, because it is under appreciated.

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  • Andrea Tisher

    Sarah. GREAT lists. I’ve enjoyed them all and I keep being delighted at how many favourite books we share. (And then quickly adding the ones I haven’t read to my ‘to-read’ list!) 

    I haven’t read The Reading Group yet, but your mention of all things British and such has made me want to recommend two authors to you… Catherine Fox has three novels: Angels and Men, The Benefits of Passion and Love for the Lost. I re-read them probably every year. Set in an unnamed university town… real characters who don’t always choose what they ought to. Quite lovely. 

    Also, Susan Howatch’s Starbridge Series. Church of England. Each of the six novels is from the perspective of a more minor character in one of the other books. So you get the back story of one character and then they become background in the next novel. So good. (And again, all these religious mucky-mucks with real issues and the inability to “live victoriously”… and you end up seeing one flawed character going for help to someone they think of as “having it all together” but because of one of the previous novels, you as the reader know just how REAL that character actually is. 

    Okay. Enough. But THANK YOU!

  • My son is named Atticus! Actually, my husband suggested it. People either get it and think it’s awesome or say something like, “That’s unusual.”

  • Rebecca

    I’ve read most of the books on your list but they’re all too “serious” for me after reading my beloved history books/sources-except for Harry Potter:) My favorites-and they all have memories associated with them (mostly lazy rainy days with cups of steaming coffee)- are: Lord of the Rings/Hobbit/everything else Tolkien wrote; Stephen Lawhead’s books (and his son just started writing a series as well-yayness); The Hunger Games series (five times so far AND wrote a paper on it for one of my classes); any of the Sherlock Holmes stories. There are more, too many to list; my mother was a bookworm and she made sure I read extensively. I’ve also been privileged to work at a bookstore for the last ten years:) My bookshelves (and now Nook) runneth over.

  • Rachel Dee

    I love the “All Creatures Great and Small” series by James Herriot.  His charming and funny stories of life as a Yorkshire country vet in the 1940s and ’50s warm my heart every time.

  • Ashley

    Hi! I found your blog through Pinterest and I love your book lists! I am so glad to hear someone else has a Harry Potter problem too- my husband has threatened to take them away from me, but it is like you said… once you start, you can’t quit at just one!

  • Great list here! I almost put Gatsby on my list, but it got edged out by a new fave (Half of a Yellow Sun). My book club is reading it in October. Also, I recently fell in love with Mockingbird all over again.

  • Stephanie

    I very rarely read books a second time. I guess it just seems like there are so many books that I haven’t read yet so I tend to gravitate toward those.

    That said, I have read “A Severe Mercy” several times. Also: “Anne of Green Gables,” the “Little House” series, and “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

    I just added “The Poisonwood Bible” and “The Forgotten Garden” to my library list. Thank you for the recommendations.

    By the way, we are the same way about books. We only purchase books AFTER we have previewed them from the library and fallen in love with them.

    Last note: This English major is actually not a fan of Gatsby. The story is over-the-top and I can”t get over that adultery is one of the primary themes. I’d love to hear more about what makes it a favorite for you. I’ll also go read Megan’s letter…

  • Jennifer Enriquez

    My favorites of all time: Ishmael and Self Raised by E.D.E.N. Southworth as she defines what true character looks like and how it lives it out. (Lamplighter Publishing has beautiful editions of this story.) The Count of Monte Cristo for certain needs to make any top 10 list. I’d add Watership Down. Also, written by Harold Bell Wright, is the story that reminds us that “the church” still has a long way to go, That Printer of Udell’s will have you looking at whether or not we’ve made any progress in the past 100 years. I adore the story, The Wide, Wide World by Susan Warner, as it is the book that Louisa May Alcott makes reference to in Little Women.

  • Ami

    I love The Blue Castle.  I love it so much.  And the Forgotten Garden.  And Sense and Sensibility.  (Although my favorite Austen is Northanger Abbey.)  You have an excellent list and now I’m going have to check out The Reading Group.  I wrote my top ten list a while ago here:
    http://bunkersdown.com/2011/09/20/my-favorite-books-of-all-time-at-least-for-today/
    Thanks so much for sharing your favorites.

    • Melissa D

      Northanger is my favorite too, followed closely by S&S. I fall in love with Henry every time I read the book.

  • So many of these are favorites! Persuasion is absolutely my favorite Austen. I read the Reading Group a few years back and thought it was good but not necessarily memorable. I might have to give it another shot. I still remember how Jane Eyre swept me away the first time I read it, same with Great Gatsby. There’s something so gripping about those books. Oh, and I adore Kate Morton!

    The book I read over and over again is A Prayer for Owen Meany. It meets me in new ways every time. 

  • Tdowning26

    Just finished The Forgotten Garden. It was soooo good. Love the classics too, may need to reread a few. Good list.

  • I wrote my own list last week, inspired by yours. Gilead made the top ten. I adore that book.  I also love Persuasion (sigh, Captain Wentworth) and I have this theory that the Dashwood sisters are Mary & Martha in disguise…

  • Having such fun reading this post and the comments. I love to re-read favourite books. They’re old friends. Here are some of my most cherished re-reads. Elizabeth Goudge – I adore her books especially The Scent of Water. A Country Child by Alison Uttley, Larkrise to Candleford (I discovered the book long before the miniseries was created – and it’s SO much better), Miss Read’s school trilogy (starts with Village School), Little House books, any LMM books, PL Travers I Go by Sea I go By Land, Narnia tales, LOTR, Little Women and Eight Cousins, Bleak House and A Christmas Carol, Pride and Prejudice, The Wind in The Willows, any Francis Hodgson Burnett books, . . .  and many more that are on my shelves. My daughter’s favourite re-read –  Kit Pearson’s Guest of War trilogy (great Canadian children’s author)  I just requested The Forgotten Garden at my library. Thanks for a great series of posts!

  • Well we are birds of a feather–Jane Eyre is my all time favorite book and I reread Jane Austen’s novels as well (Persuasion and P&P are my faves of hers)–so I will have to check out those you mentioned that I haven’t read. 🙂

  • Jeanette

    I like this warning about the book The Forgotten Garden, you made me laugh! “You might not want to start this one if you want to get anything done for the next day or two.”

  • Kim Fondren

    I’m a big fan of Hemingway. Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms are my favorites, but overall I could re-read all of his books. I love to travel, and no one can describe a country’s scenery and atmosphere like Hemingway can. I always feel like I’m right there on the roads of Italy or the bull fight arena in Spain whenever I read his books.

  • Shannon

    Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim. It always makes me want to be a better person and accept others exactly where they are, how they are. Fun read too.

  • Janel

    oh my goodness Sarah, I can’t believe it. i was actually considering buying The Reading Group today but wasn’t sure what to think of it. i’ll definately have to check it out and it was second hand so ever better. Love your lists.

  • Noelle

    The book I’ve read singularly more than any other is “a girl named zippy”. I am usually a purely fiction reader but this memoir is like reading junie b. jones memoir. She is hilarious and completely random in her timeline. Been caught laughing so hard tears were running done my face.
    I just finished “the winter sea” and it was spellbinding. The fact that there is mystery and a little romance AND its set in Scotland doesn’t hurt either.
    Poison wood bible and to kill a mockingbird are my other favorites. Are you on goodreads? If you are, friend me. I’d love to hear what you read next. My name is noellet on there.

  • CGreen

    I am sad to see that no one mentioned the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Time travel, Scotland, war, kings, love, family, just about everything you want in a good series. Read it once and you will go back over and over.

  • KimG

    Cannot believe you have the Blue Castle up there. It is undoubtedly one of my top 5. Most people have never heard of it. It is fun and inspiring and sweet and simple. I need a new one because it has actually fallen apart in my hands. Persuasion is preferred to pride, although I read pride more often. Persuasion is my treat. For british chick lit I love the Little Lady books.And yes, you cannot begin Harry without finishing Harry. I must add in the Xanth novels. I may not re read all of them all the time, but they are like mashed potatoes or Mac and cheese, comforting and easy. I recently introduced my 15 year old son to the Piers Anthony series and he has discovered the magic and puns therein. So much fun to share a friend with my son.

  • RachaelG

    The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis…. I read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe in the second grade, and was immediately hooked on the whole series… At 35 these are my go to books, especially The Last Battle

  • will you still be my friend if I admit I’ve never read any of these books? sigh. they all sound so good. I did start the Guernsey Literary & Potatoe Peel Pie Society…just need to finish it. (I was listening via audible —so I’ll go back)! =) Okay, so I will put some of these on my goodreads to-read list! =)

  • Sash

    As fellow lovers of To Kill A Mockingbird, which we both studied at school, my husband and I did name our eldest son Atticus!! It was the only name we chosen for our kids that we both agreed on straightaway! I’ve just finished reading the Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society and felt exactly the way you did at its end. I love your list but would add People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks to it, or in fact anything by Geraldine Brooks!!

  • Holly B

    The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

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  • Devon

    Have you read The Secret Keeper by Kate Morten yet? This one is even better than The Forgotten Garden! I loved it!

  • Christine F.

    I found a link to you on Pinterest. Love your list…although The Poisonwood Bible made me so angry that I couldn’t read it again. I guess that does mean it’s a good book, since it evoked such strong feelings in me. I dearly love The ShellSeekers and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and The Red Tent and…. I could go on and on. I also love re-reading The Secret Garden – such a wonderfully written book that touches my imagination.

  • Oh, my word. I just exclaimed aloud as I was sitting here at my computer.

    You see, I’m a fairly new reader of yours. My friend Emily Freeman introduced me to you. I’ve already thanked her for that, and in return she nodded her head and gave me a knowing smile. Oh, yes.

    Anyway, I am slowly but surely reading your posts from the past, wanting to drink in all your words. I was delighted to see The DIvine Conspiracy among the books that changed your faith (I serve on the Board of Renovaré, and it always thrills me to see that Dallas’s work has found its place in another person’s heart). But I wasn’t surprised to see it there.

    I was, however, surprised to see L.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle on this list. I’ve been a fan of Montgomery’s since I was a girl, when a friend thought that I, a redhead, might enjoy getting acquainted with the Anne-girl. I’ve read and re-read most of Montgomery’s books. But The Blue Castle? It’s my favorite. My copy is dog-eared and tear-stained. And I’ve never before known anyone else who ever read it. Hence the exclamation when I read this post.

    I really liked you already. Now? I am well and truly smitten.

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  • Summer Smith

    Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Thanks for the list, I have read most of those and liked them for the same reasons, so I’ll add the ones I haven’t to my list! 🙂

  • AllyGriggles

    I can’t believe you love the Blue Castle as much as I do! Even people who love Anne of Green Gables have never heard of it. I’ve probably read it 6 or 7 times now, and I just can’t get over it. Thanks for the list!

  • Gilead and the companion book Home– 2 books for the most thoughtful reading. So glad to see it on your list. And I loved the Poisonwood Bible–devasting and riveting. I’ll never forget the moment when the father broke the platter, the only thing of beauty they had. I’ve not reread it but you’re making me want to head to the library to pick it up again!

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