Dress Down Friday

On reading and rereading

A couple of questions about books for the weekend.  Recently, during the course of a rather fraught thread, Michael, when challenged about some perceived gaps in his reading, referred to the fact that I teach English Literature, and then said: ‘I am sure she would be prepared to admit that there are many great works that she has not read.’  I ducked out of the thread at that point, but will now respond to Michael’s challenge.  My biggest gaps are definitely in American literature.  I’ve never read Moby Dick, and (this is quite bad isn’t it?) I’ve never read anything by Faulkner, Hemingway or Steinbeck.

Another question, prompted by Flying Rodent.  What books do you like to reread, and which would you never look at again?  The one which leapt out for me from the comments to FR’s post was U. K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, a wonderful book which I have reread more than once.  Obviously books which you only read so that you can say you have read them don’t get reread.   I can’t imagine reading Finnegans Wake again, for example, or even, I’m afraid, the later novels of Henry James.  But I do reread Austen and Dickens quite regularly, and (with time I could have spent plugging those gaps in my American reading) I have read most of Georgette Heyer’s novels about six times. And I remember vividly how, after finishing Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for the first time, I immediately felt compelled to read it again.

So – what are the most embarassing gaps in your reading?  And what books do you reread with most pleasure?