Saturday, April 4, 2009

What books would you reread?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I just picked up a couple of Tony Hillerman books, The Dance Hall of the Dead and A Thief of Time. I got them because they're on
the top 100 list I'm reading.

Of course, I'd read them before. But they are well worth reading again. I remember my feeling that The Dance Hall of the Dead was one of the two best of the Hillerman books. Don't ask me the title of the other which I thought was best. I could tell you what happened in the book, though.

What books to reread? Of the books on the list, there are several I will not reread. I probably won't reread The Murder of Roger Ackroyd or Murder on the Orient Express though they are classics. I taught a semester high school class in reading mystery stories once. Those books were on the reading list. I've read them several times.

I won't reread In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. That murder took place in a small town not too far from where I grew up. That book hit awfully close to home the first time I read it when it was first published.

And I won't reread To Kill a Mockingbird, not because it isn't worthy, but because I've read it several times. Also we've seen the drama at the Arrow Rock Lyceum which is just down the road from us.

But I will reread Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. I very much agreed with the way the list placed The Maltese Falcon second. My own opinion (worth a nickel and cup of coffee, as my mother used to say) is that Hammet is a writer of the stature of William Faulkner and Mark Twain. Most people don't recognize that because he was a genre writer.

And I will reread some modern books on the list such as A is for Alibi.

What I reread shows a lot about me.

I'm making progress on the list. I'm in the midst of nine volumes of Sherlock Holmes right now. And I'm enjoying it. Some of these stories involve rereading. Some, I'm reading for the first time.

What books would you reread?


Corey Wilde said...

'Dance Hall of the Dead' was the first Hillerman book I read. And it's still my favorite. Not that the others aren't good, but that's a special book.

I'm right with you, I don't want to reread Christie or Capote. Yes, to Chandler and Hammett. I reread all of O'Donnell's Modesty Blaise series from time to time, they lift me out of my reading doldrums. And I've once reread all of John Sandford's Lucas Davenport books. But the books I reread most often are not rated highly by many crime fic readers: I love -- no, seriously, I LOVE the Donald Lam / Bertha Cool books that Erle Stanley Gardner wrote under the AA Fair pen name. I recognize their literary shortcomings, but that doesn't deter me. I'm crazy about those books. For my money, there is not one fictional detective who even comes close to being as good at his job as Donald Lam is.

Joe Barone said...

I also very much like Erle Stanley Gardner and would reread Both the Lam and the Mason books.

Helen said...

Okay Joe I have a question for you - why do you reread books that you know you have already read and remember? I don't do that if I can help it. I just hate it when I get into the first chapter and say to myself "gee, this sounds familiar", and then I put it back and get one I haven't read! Just wondering???

Joe Barone said...

Helen, I really appreciate a well-written book. I don't reread very many. I'm rereading The Dance Hall of the Dead right now.

I too have the experience of picking up ordinary books, maybe ones I've bought, and thinking, "Darn, I've read this before." I don't reread those kinds of books.

Also, for people like me who write, even if mostly just for myself, I learn a lot when I reread a great book like The Dance Hall of the Dead.

Corey Wilde said...

I won't reread a book I didn't thoroughly enjoy. Like you, Joe, sometimes I reread to learn something about the way the book was constructed, but more often I reread for the pleasure of revisiting old friends. Characters - especially in a series - can become like old friends.

I don't reread as much as I did when I was younger and books were harder to come by, but when I get the blues there's nothing like rereading an old favorite to soothe my soul.

Joe Barone said...

Rereading a good book helps me with the blues too.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I would only reread unknowingly at this point (and it happens). But in my younger days, I regularly reread Ross MacDonald, Jane Austen, Josephine Tey, Sjowal and Wahloo, Nicholas Freeling, John D. MacDonald and a host of others. Love Dance Hall of the Dead btw.

Joe Barone said...

I was thinking about Sjowal and Wahloo the other day. I think there were maybe seven of those. I "enjoyed" them all.