Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. It’s all about books, lists and sharing the love we have of both with our bookish friends. This week, we’re talking about books we’ll never reread – even though we loved them.
One of the most difficult aspects of being a bookwyrm is that there’s never enough time. I’m not a book blogger who feels immense pressure to keep up with all the latest publications / awards nominees and classics in the genre – I read for pleasure, and follow my fancy – but I still can’t keep up with everything I’d like to. Then there’s all the old favourites I’d love to reread, and all the past reads I’d love to revisit having considered them in a new light, and… well, you see the problem.
This means there’s lots of worthy books that will never get another look-in. I’m ever so glad I’ve read them at all, but I’m highly unlikely to make time to read them again. Here are some stand-outs.
A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali – Gil Courtemanche
This scarring account of the Rwandan genocide is haunting on every level. While inspired by Courtemanche’s experiences in Rwanda, this is literary fiction with the freedom to conflate stories and present stories that seem unlikely (although perhaps I just choose to believe that, as I’m so uncomfortable with them). One the one hand horrific and unflinching, on the other it’s a wrenching love story. There’s no way I could ever bring myself to read this again.
Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
I didn’t enjoy this as much as the friend who loaned it to me hoped – no instant, visceral connection; I’m no isolated child genius – but I appreciated it and could see why it was a classic. However, it’s a long way from my heart’s home these days, so I’ve no interest in revisiting it.
Faerie Tale – Raymond Feist
I have fond memories of Faerie Tale, but I’m fairly certain that even if I could find my copy (which went missing in a house move, or possibly became a loan turned permanent) I would hesitate to revisit it. Because I’m pretty sure I’d find suck fairydust sprinkled liberally throughout. I’d hesitate to revisit any Feist at this point, let alone a book about Faeries and teenage girls…
Bad Blood – Lorna Sage
This falls into the category of ‘books I picked up to please my mother-out-law’, who was at school with the author and felt her autobiography captured the world she grew up in. Sage was a literary critic and academic who focused on women’s writing; an unusual autobiography for me to say the least, but absolutely compelling. But not something I’d ever read twice.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
I really enjoyed Larsson’s pitch black thriller and its uncompromising heroine. We periodically rewatch the film (either version; I’m not a hater of the Fincher remake), and it remains as uncomfortable and compelling as ever. It’s also good enough to render the book unnecessary; and I was irritated rather than impressed by the sequels, so a reread is highly unlikely.
Reading Lolita in Tehran – Azar Nafisi
This is one of the few autobiographies I’d ever consider reading twice. It’s a love affair with literature and a history of modern Iran from the Revolution until the end of the century; it’s the story of one woman’s determination to teach female students in spite of the government crackdown on education, and their refusal to consider any book out of bounds, whatever the consequences. Honestly, I would reread this, but I loaned out my copy and didn’t get it back. So I bought another. Guess what happened?
Nineteen Eighty-four – George Orwell
I was tempted to revisit Orwell’s classic a few years ago, and then went to see the immensely impressive Headlong stage production. Honestly, between the scars that inflicted and the general determination of life to imitate art, it will be a long time – if ever – before I consider a reread again. Make no mistake: this is essential reading for our times. If you haven’t read it, you really should.
High Fidelity – Nick Hornby
I recall Hornby’s second novel – a paean to the difficulty of long-term relationships and to lifelong obsessions with music – very fondly. However, more recent encounters with his writing have set my teeth on edge to the extent I’d rather not revisit it. Better to remember it as I found it then rather than ruin it with a reread. Besides, the film does a fairly good job of calling out its self-centred shit of a protagonist.
Infidel – Ayaan Hirsi Ali
This was one of my reads of the year a few years back. Ayaan Hirsi Ali charts the horrors of genital mutilation and her personal journey from fundamental Islam to liberal Holland. It is engrossing, an unapologetic assault on extremism – and on liberalism. It’s a challenging read, and well worth the consideration it demands. However, I hesitate to reread it or to read her subsequent – even more polemic – books.
A Room with a View – E M Forster
I had such a soft spot for Forster in my teens, but I saw Helena Bonham Carter’s delicate debut years earlier. I still have my Forster on the shelf, but given my dedication to SFF I can’t see myself ever returning to him (with the possible exception of Maurice, which I’ve never read). And I still have a young Bonham Carter in my DVD collection, so…
What books have you loved but find yourself unlikely to reread?