The Book You Re-read Again and Again

Do you re-read to be comforted? To be surprised by something you didn't see the first time around? To dive deeper into a book you love?

My parents are both big readers, everything from Dickens to the latest John Irving to essays by Stephen Hawking. When I picture my childhood, there’s always one of parents in the frame, with a book in their hands.

My dad introduced me to P.G. Wodehouse when I was in college. I was doing tons of reading in literary theory, and my dad thought Wodehouse would give me a nice break from all that seriousness. He was right. I loved Wodehouse.

(I wish I’d had this list of Fun Reading for Recent Grads back then!)

Now I re-read Wodehouse – any Wodehouse, but especially his Bertie and Jeeves stories – several times a year. It’s like settling into a warm bath every time. Ahhhh.

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Wodehouse is a terrific writer, snappy and smart. But it’s the lightness of his stories that brings me back again, and again.

The camaraderie of Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves is charming. Bertie is always getting into trouble in part because he has hilariously bad luck but mostly because he has a moral code that keeps him from being unkind. No one knows this about Bertie, they just think he’s daft. Bertie makes a mess of things, and Jeeves puts the pieces back together with quiet grace.

There’s something so comforting about these stories. Everything always turns out okay. This world reminds me a bit of The Thin Man movies with the cracking wit of Nick and Nora, but Wodehouse has an even lighter touch. Entering the world of Bertie and Jeeves lifts my spirits every time.

I often re-read Wodehouse to cleanse my “reading palate” after an especially tough read. You know the kind – the book that blows your mind but leaves you feeling a little heavy. Wodehouse is the perfect antidote. I read, I re-read, I laugh every time.

Do you re-read? Why or why not? Is there a book or an author you like to re-read regularly? Tell us in a comment!

About Kira Walton

Kira Walton

KIRA WALTON has been stalking books all her life as a college English teacher, bookseller, book club consultant, author, and editor.

  • mm

    I always reach for “Whistling in the Dark” by Lesley Kagen when I need to lighten up

  • techeditor


    I have too many piles of books to read. I would consider rereading to be a waste.

    But, if I were to reread a book, it would be THE DOUBLE BIND by Chris Bohjalian. The end pages of that book were a surprise. And I’d like to reread to see what I missed, what I should have seen.

    • I know what you mean about so many books and so little time!

      THE DOUBLE BIND was amazing – I was shocked by the ending. Those books are great to read again. And moves, too, like The Usual Suspects – once you know how the story ends, it’s fun to watch for clues!

  • whatkaitedid

    I do seasonal re-reading – there are a few books that just scream autumn and winter for me. I’m currently re-reading Jessica Verday’s The Hollow, because it’s full of gorgeous descriptions of a New England autumn (and always makes me want to take up perfume-making), and Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White, which I try to read every September – I think because that’s when I first read it, so it’s just become a really nice way to mark the beginning of autumn. Towards the end of November, I’ll pick up The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, The Dark is Rising and some of Alan Garner’s young adult fantasy books. It’s definitely soothing, but also an attempt to recapture how I felt when I read them for the first time. And hopefully some of the uncracked spines on my TBR pile will make it onto next year’s re-reading list…

    • The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was my favorite book growing up, and I can’t believe I haven’t re-read it since. I will now – thanks for the inspiration! Always interesting to re-read books we read as kids….

  • Kate_at_RIF

    Packing for a long weekend in way Upstate NY and got inspired by this post. Think I might re-read a few classics like To Kill a Mockingbird and my go-to re-read Wuthering Heights. With the baby hormones, I may be inconsolable while visiting Heathcliff and Catherine…

    • whatkaitedid

      Wuthering Heights is one of those books where, no matter how many times I re-read it, I hope for a happier outcome. Whereas with Jane Eyre, I’m always secretly hoping she’ll run off and have adventures and leave Rochester and St John. I think I have an unromantic soul.

      • Kate_at_RIF

        You hit the nail on the head – I have a wistful longing that the outcome will be different each and every time! Which reminds me: I need to pack tissues.

    • Judy Goodman Wardlow

      Ah, yes, To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s one of 4 or 5 books I have to go back and re-read every couple of years or so.

  • Shakera Blakney

    Sometimes I will re-read an entire series! Don’t get me wrong… I have a pile of books I still need to work on, but I love to re-read books! I can’t tell you how many times I have read the Harry Potter series or the Percy Jackson series or the 39 Clues series. Yes, I know and understand that these are children to young adult books, but I love them!

  • KarenCSR

    I have reread The Thorn Birds at least twice over the years. The most recent one I’ve reread is The Invisible Bridge. Such a beautiful story. It’s on my Kindle, so it’s very easy to pick up at night just to read my favorite parts. At Christmas I’ve reread Skipping Christmas a couple of times. It’s a light, quick read and so funny.

  • Carol Martell

    A Prayer for Owen Meany. Especially the audio version, what a treat!

  • Elaine Ylioja

    Anne of Green Gables gets my vote! I’ve reread the whole series about 6 times and still love it! For those who wouldn’t ever reread a book, it’s like coming home to an old friend. 🙂

    • Raquel

      Anne is one of my all time favorite people. Two other s
      books I was introduced to around that same time were The Good Master. & The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy. I re -read them regularly & share them with students, teachers, friends, strangers etc

  • Bill

    As much as I read, I always find time about every other year to re-read “A Confederacy of Dunces”. For me, it is a pure joy to read again and again. I wish John Kennedy Toole had written more.

  • Elise

    Pride & Predjudice. I re-read it every couple years, and though I can quote large sections of the book verbatim already, I never tire of it. As a girl I read Little Women so many times, always wishing that Jo would relent and marry Laury. Somewhere in my 20’s I reread the book and suddenly found I was very glad she never changed her mind! Isn’t that silly?

  • kaye

    I’ve read Dances with Wolves about a dozen times and I thought the movie was great but the book better still..I’m not even sure why I like it so much. I just find it very profound and the characters written as though you could have met them in real life. Sadly the sequel was really much so I don’t even remember the name.

  • Shari Petrovich

    I try NOT to reread a book but I have. When I was a child I did, but not as many books were available to me then. Now I have stacks “to read”. I have reread Gone with the Wind and Stephen King’s The Stand.

  • glorias

    I re-read A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry every few years. The book takes me to India and caused me to change my opinions of the Indian people and their culture. Its a wonderful book! I also re-read Trinity by Leon Uris for the very same reasons!

  • frepster

    Since I was 12, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn provides me comfort, distraction and solace. It’s been over 40 years, and I’m on my 4th copy. My 3rd went to my 30 year old daughter, who is now on her 2nd.

  • June Gurvich

    Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

  • Pauline Brady

    the one book i go back to repeatedly is shadowland by peter struab. this story is a wonderous and mystical adventure and each time it amazes me.

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