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Books you long to revisit

When you're in the middle of reading a book you like well enough and intend to finish, but it isn't entirely enthralling you, do you long to go back and re-read books that did enthrall you? I certainly get that way. I seldom actually get around to the re-reading, because there are so many new books I still need to read and discover, but the temptation is strong enough to pull me back to former loves once in a while.

Lately I've particularly wanted to re-read A Room with a View by E.M. Forster, and Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin. (As well as Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and, as ever, The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, but those I've read more recently than the first two.) I think what I crave is the grace, romance, and wildflowers of the Forster book; and the crazy magic, the sparkling icy scenery, and the gorgeous vocabulary of the Helprin.

What books do you long to return to?

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naill_renfro
Jan. 25th, 2009 05:44 am (UTC)
A while ago I re-read some CS Lewis arcana -- the Perelandra trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength). SF -- the first and second books are set on Mars and Venus, respectively. They both show CSL's genius for creating memorable fantasy worlds with a few brush strokes, quite different from Tolkien's unflagging attention to detail, yet equally effective in a quite different way. They also suffer, if that's the word I mean, from his lack of a similar genius in creating memorable characters. As with Narnia, the first time I reread them as an adult I found that I remembered all of the settings vividly, but none of the characters.

The first book, in particular, has become sort of a writer's-writer classic -- most recently (that I'm aware of, anyway) Larry Niven sampled it pretty extensively in Rainbow Mars. The second book must surely have inspired Leonard Wibberley's Encounter Near Venus. (Leonard Wibberley is the guy who wrote, inter alia, The Mouse That Roared.) The Perelandra trilogy is explicitly Christian (as, for that matter, is Encounter Near Venus), but it's much closer to the syncretic vision of Prince Caspian than to the rather more stringent one of The Last Battle. (Suddenly recalled a (C of E) priest of my childhood years, in whose rectory parlor a bunch of us kids used to play -- yes -- Dungeons and Dragons -- declaring indignantly "CS Lewis was a third-rate theologian!" Several of us were quite uncomfortable about that, but as none of us knew a thing about theology, we were in no position to challenge it.)
mollyringle
Jan. 28th, 2009 04:17 pm (UTC)
I actually found the Perelandra trilogy in one paperback volume, in a bookstore in Inverness, Scotland. I keep it mostly because it's a souvenir that way. I've only read the first of the three books. As you say, great premise and setting; can't recall much about the characters.

And I've at least seen the movie version of The Mouse that Roared. My family raised me to be a Peter Sellers fan.