Sunday, May 11, 2008

What I've Re-Read

Work has been hectic and blogging thin. So this post is both atypical (for me) and relatively brief. It's a list of my favorite books (both novels and non-fiction, but not short stories or text/reference books), ranked by the number of times re-read. Such an approach is biased toward older works, but--apart from science and science-fiction--I read few books until after law school:
  1. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (1999), first read 1999, eleven times (SF)

  2. The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes (1995), first read 1996, eight times (history of science)

  3. The Annotated Alice by Lewis Carroll and Martin Gardner (1960), first read 1975, seven times (children's lit, political crit, puzzles)

  4. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein (1966), first read 1972, seven times (SF)

  5. The Last Lion by William Manchester (2 volumes); Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932 (1983) and Winston Spencer Churchill: Alone, 1932-1940 (1988), first read 1988, four times, six times (biography)

  6. Ball Four by Jim Bouton (1970), first read 1972, six times (autobiography, sports kiss-and-tell)

  7. Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady by Florence King (1985), first read 1986, five times (autobiography)

  8. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis (2003), first read 2004, four times (economics, sports)

  9. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (1938), first read 1980, four times (gothic)

  10. Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky (1997), first read 1997, four times (history)
By the way, tied for eleventh--i.e., read about three times each--would be: all seven Jane Austen novels (gothic), all seven Raymond Chandler novels (detective), the remaining Robert Heinlein novels written between 1948-1973, plus Friday from 1982 (SF), as well as Isaac Asimov's The Gods Themselves (1972) (SF).



OBloodyHell said...

If you liked The Annotated Alice, then you might also hunt down The Annotated Hunting of the Snark, by Caroll & Gardner -- The snark was a boojum, you see...

Also, along a similar vein to The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, if you like intelligent computer stories, I can recommend When H.A.R.L.I.E. Was One, by David Gerrold. Anyone who isn't familiar with it, should be. Gerrold, BTW, has written an as-yet uncompleted series of stories which cover the life of a "Heinlein Individual", from youth to old age (The missing novel[s] are the ones involving the cantankerous senior) -- essentially, it's a long-form version of Starship Troopers, so to speak. I gather Heinlein had input into the earlier portions before he passed away. The Series is called The War Against The Chtorr, and the first book is titled A Matter For Men

Carl said...


I've actually met Gerrold and read some of his work (including "H.A.R.L.I.E."). They're ok, but I'm not a huge fan--except, of course, for The Man Who Folded Himself and The Trouble With Tribbles (both episode and book).

Iowa_John said...

I've read and re-read everything Jonathan Carroll has ever published and heartily recommend his work.

Michael Yourshaw said...

I agree that those on your list that I have read to completion are good. However with the exception of Heinlein and Miss Austen I am not a re-reader. Too many books, too little time.

There's a pseudo-Victorian, The Quincunx by Charlse Palliser, that's pretty good.