Like most bookworms, I have an important list of criteria for the books I ritually reread: the book must be funny, romantic, with characters I miss when I’m away from them. It definitely can’t be depressing, offer any dreary meditations on human nature. I like to be happy, and I will shamelessly defend my fondness for books that tend to make me that way.
I have a lot of re-reads I dearly love, but here are my tippity-toppity five:
1. All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. My parents introduced me to this when I was a kid, and it remains a cherished favorite. Herriot, a mid-20th- century Yorkshire veterinarian, wrote with warmth, compassion, a keen observational eye and a deliciously ironic humor that are uncommon even among trained writers.
2. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding. Another incredible example of classic British humor. I discovered this my junior year of college, while I was actually living in England, so I am the proud owner of the original 1998 (yes, I’m old) UK paperback edition, which is now practically in tatters from having been read so many times.
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3. This Splendid Peril by Rosemary Fitzgerald. I can safely say this book, a historical romance set in medieval Mont St Michel during the Hundred Years’ War, is on no one else’s re-read list, because it was published in 1982, and it’s the author’s only book. I know because the author was my grandmother. And her book was a labor of love — meticulously researched, thoughtfully written, with an incredibly appealing cast of characters. The pride she rightfully always took in the book was a strong inspiration to me from early childhood on.
4. Anne of Green Gables. I think I need say no more.
5. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I have a longstanding castles-and-petticoats fetish, so this sumptuous historical epic is right up my alley. And Gabaldon’s wit and gift for character made this a guaranteed keeper for me.
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