I fully admit that I am a compulsive re-reader. When I’m having trouble re-focusing on my to-be-read pile, I always, always go back to my stack of favourites and I re-read. There are never enough hours in the day for my books – sleep is for the weak! – but I will find the time for a favourite book.
Having said that, there are loads of books I just don’t have the time to re-read, or the copies are at my mom’s house, or … well, I just haven’t done so. Here, then, is my list of the Top Ten Books From My Childhood/Teen Years I Want To Revisit.
Judy Blume backlist
With her new adult book coming out this year (and the chance to see her in person – squee!), I really want to re-read my Judy Blume. From “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret” to “Tiger Eyes” (sob!) and even “Forever”, these are the books of our childhood. Line ’em up!
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
This book was given to me when I was ten by my brother’s then-girlfriend. I’ve read it every single year, and so have my nieces (conveniently, her daughters). I get something new from it every single time I read it, and I identify with a different character each time as well. Haven’t read it? It’s a classic.
Midnight is a Place by Joan Aiken
Ah, my first gothic thriller! “Lucas Bell is lonely and miserable at Midnight Court, a vast, brooding house owned by his intolerable guardian, Sir Randolph Grimsby.When a mysterious carriage brings a visitor to the house, Lucas hopes he’s found a friend at last. But the newcomer, Anna Marie, is unfriendly and spoiled – and French.” SHE’S FRENCH, GUYS … instantly must be the unlike-able one! And a guardian named Grimsby? That just screams “I’m going to be an awful, awful character.” We did this book as a class in Grade 8 and it was such delicious melodrama that I can’t wait to go back to it.
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Why Farmer Boy and not Little House on the Prairie? For the same reason that I love having a male POV in my books – it’s a totally different take on the same story. Also – this book is probably the reason for my fledging romance addiction, as I spent a good portion of the book waiting for Almanzo to meet Laura! Really, though I was fascinated by all the descriptions of food – how many donuts can a little boy eat?? #truestory
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
How could I not include this on my list?? Arguably one of my top three favourite children’s books of all time. I’ve already written about why I love it here, but I’ll just reiterate that this book is classic in every way, and introduces both humour and despair to young children in a way that remains with them without scarring them for life! Wilbur! Charlotte!
“Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
I managed to read through the entire series when I was younger, and I remember being profoundly influenced by the overarching arc of the story. For all their faults (and there are many who think these books have them), they are stunning when read as a series. Move beyond the movies, my friends … there is so much more to the story to be told!
Watership Down by Richard Adams
My brothers gave me Watership Down when I was laid out and home sick one week. I was home sick a lot, and they saw it as their duty as older brothers to ensure that my mind would not turn to goo by giving me some of their favourite books to read. A deceptive tale about rabbits and their desire to live free and safe, it’s so much more. I’m pretty sure my 10 year old brain didn’t get all the details the first time around, but I definitely felt stirrings of environmentalism, of the type of society I wanted the rabbits (and by extension, myself) to live in and so many other feelings. Transformative – and definitely time for a re-read.
The Anne of Green Gables Series by LM Montgomery
I am actually part of a re-read of this series, as hosted by Lindsey at Reeder Reads, simply because we had a discussion at the end of last year that it was past time for us to re-read this childhood classic. I’m finding that I’m picking up so much more of the world of Avonlea as an adult than I ever did as a child, and that I have so much more sympathy for the adult characters! As a side note … check out the beautiful new covers by Elly MacKay for the Tundra/Penguin Random House editions!
The Rabbits by John Marsden and Shaun Tan
Slight deviation with this one – I first read this book in Australia and found it to be such a powerful allegory for the arrival of the Europeans to the new land (be it Australia or Canada, the message still works). The illustrations by Shaun Tan are stunning, and often say more than Marsden’s words; I have recommended this book to so many people for use in their classrooms and with their children and have yet to hear one complaint. I think, though, that my next read needs to be for myself.
The Jean Little Collection
Jean Little is a Canadian icon. She writes beautiful and sensitive books for middle grade and YA readers that deal with real-life issues, often well before these issues became “trendy”. Blind since birth, she and her family have quietly supported children in need all through her life, and she embeds her boundless compassion and empathy for others into every story. Her books made me cry, laugh and look at the world a little differently, and I treasure each copy that I still own. I attended a dinner recently where Jean Little was an honoured guest, and it was a little reassuring to see that pretty much everyone in attendance was just as star-struck as I! Where to start? Try Kate, Mama’s Going to Buy You a Mockingbird and From Anna, and keep going.
What books would you re-read? Leave your list in the comments below!