Saturday, January 2, 2016

BOOKS I HAVE READ OVER AND OVER AGAIN...MY 'COMFORT' BOOKS

I don't know what is so enticing about some books that  one reads them again and again...with undiminished joy!
Some books are re-read  by lots of people while some books seem to cast such a spell on only a few.
Needless to say, books which one re-reads are definitely worth buying.
I have often reread books, such as children's books, as I was of a 'certain' age at the time; I haven't re-read those books after getting older. Enid Blyton's books and some Phantom comics by Lee Falk, TinTin comics fall in this category.
I don't remember rereading Asterix ...they were great comics but for some inexplicable reason, I didn't reread them. 


I have been addicted since childhood, to the Ladybird publications of fairy stories illustrated by Eric Winters and written by Vera Southgate   published as 'well-loved tales' around 1970.
The reason I am stating the names of the illustrator, the author, the publication & year of publication,  is because these fairy stories (by Grimm brothers, Hans Christian Anderson, folk tales from Britain and other European countries) have been retold by thousands of authors and illustrated by hundreds of artists. The ladybird publication itself has republished the same stories, but by different illustrator and different writer.  But it is this particular illustrator,  Eric Winters who enticed me to reread these tales again and again! I spent more time gazing at the lovely paintings (water colour?) on every alternate page of the book than actually reading the stories. When I sat gazing at the paintings of the forests, woods, the lovely huts and cottages, I was transported to a different world altogether!
As a teen, I have  loved and reread books set in boarding school by Frank Richards i.e. the hilarious Billy Bunter series. For some reason, the Richard Crompton's William series dint attract me. I also dint get to read more than one or two of them. I know this series is famous but ....
Here is a list of those books,( I read as an adult) which have cast such a spell over me that I read them again and again and go into a sort of trance, when reading them!
I have to admit  that  I read some books 'fully', a second or third time. There are also several books, where I read 'parts' several times and not the entire book. There is something so enjoyable about reading these parts, that I read only those pages, over and over again, experiencing the same joy as I did the first time!

 
I will add to this list as I recall them.
 
Many books by Georgette Heyer: a few I can recall now are The grand Sophy,Fredrica, The Corinthian. These are all romances.
Some books of P.G.Wodehouse, including his earlier-not-so-funny books set in boarding schools such as The Gold bat, the white feather, The pothunters  and A prefect's uncle. I loved these not-well-known books which were  based on life in boarding schools and I found them akin to O.Henry's stories.
 
The Good Earth by Pearl.S.Buck. This book was such an addiction for me at a time! I must have read this entire book at least 5 times; and parts of it countless times!)

The Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough
The far pavilions by M.M.Kaye.I have reread the first part of the book i.e. until he leaves the Rajput kingdom as a boy at nighttime
To kill a mocking bird by Harper Lee
Gone with the wind by Margret Mitchell. I have read parts of it ...many many times
Pride and Prejudice. I have read the whole book, despite it's size a few times.
In pursuit of love by Nancy Mitford
 
Mahabharatha by C.R.Rajgopalchari

Ramayana by C.R.Rajagopalchari I read the Mahabharatha more often than Ramayana.

Bhagawan Parashurama both parts (Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan publications)
Vikramaditya, (Bharitiya Vidya Bhavan  publications)..I read the stories several times as a teenager...some part of me wanted to believe that those tales were true!)

Norse legends
Greek mythology
King Arthur and the round table
I have read, reread and cried (&cried & cried)reading romantic stories such as Love story by Eric Segal, Salim-Anarkali, Sohrab-Rustom(Sohrab Rustom is not romantic in the usual sense) Tristan and Isolde in my youth.
I have reread The five findouters and the dog series by Enid Blyton and many series by this wonderful writer. May God strike with lightning, those nasty evil critics of her ! I remember rereading the book "The family at the redroofs" many many times! I also enjoyed and reread many of her series set in boarding schools and children's adventures series.
 


Little women by Lousia Alcott. I must have read this a dozen times at least!
The lost horizon abridged by E.F.Dodd ( I loved this book and I gazed mesmerized  at the woodcut prints for ages!)(Macmillan publications I think)
Kidnapped (abridged one...I don't think I would have read the full version that often)
Robinson Crusoe(abridged)
Treasure Island(abridged)
Some Sherlock Holmes books
The king's sculptor: This book,  probably written by E.F.Dodd,(the one who abridged Classics for children's school texts) was a nondetailed text in middle school for me,  and it's  impossible to find today.
Stories for children by Leo Tolstoy
Short stories by Rabindranath Tagore and O.Henry (especially Cabulliwallah and the gift of the Magi)
Tom Sawyer's adventures
Daddy Long legs
My family and other animals by Gerald Durrell
James Herriot books(but not sure if I really reread them or am I lying now?)
Sudden western series by Fredrick H Christian and Oliver Strange-I have reread all 15 books in this series more than once!
Modesty Blaise novels by Peter O Donnell I adore these books and have reread them


James Hadley Chase...many novels were reread by me, some I would read once a year at least!
 
Kaminsky's Rostnikov series
Kaminsky's Lieberman's series
Donald Lam series by A.A.Fair
I also try to reread many books by many authors but I give up and don't reread the book completely. I start rereading books of Perry Mason series but give up, as I get distracted.
There are many crime fiction books I enjoyed when I read the first time but cannot read them the second time. Books in this category are books by Michael Connelly, Linwood Barclay, Robin Cook, etc.
 I recently reread the book, 8th Commandant by Lawrence Sanders and thoroughly enjoyed  it!
I love rereading lawyers' jokes, Jewish jokes, Schoolboy howlers, many comics such as The Lockhorns, Andy Capp, Beau Peep, The wizard of Id, Calvin & Hobbes, etc.
The ONLY NON-FICTION book I  have read several times is :Reader's digest, "How to live with life?" I loved every single essay in that wonderful book!


Why did I reread some books? Is it because, I didn't have any other book to read? This is possible to some extent; I did not have access to many books in my childhood as I could not afford to buy all I wanted and the libraries of Bangalore (70s and 80s)were not well-stocked or  were inaccessible to me . Did I reread  to avoid what I disliked...such as studying for an exam or avoid boring and tedious chores? Did I reread because I wanted to live in the fantasy-world of the book? Do I reread books as I have a memory like a sieve and forget a book completely and can read with full enjoyment a second or third time!?! I do have a terrible memory and often forget who the villian is and need to reread a book to the very end to know the ending! 
I think I reread books for many reasons.
  • Enjoyment. Sense of well-being. Happiness.
  • Vicarious thrills.
  • Laughs.
  • Escape into an ideal or a nicer, more exciting world. 
  • Yielding to temptation and choosing to read something enjoyable than doing something hard, boring, tedious. Wanting to escape the current reality of life.
Making this list I discovered that I seem to enjoy books which are happy, have  idealistic characters, and books which are 'feel good'. I admire and respect many other novels and authors but cant reread them as they are too depressing. Books in this category are books by C.J.Samson, Martin Cruz Smith, Tom Rob Smith, etc.( I did reread Martin Cruz Smith books)
There are of course many books which are very good but I read them only once and didn't reread. These are books which are depressing, violent, disturbing, heart-breaking and I simply don't have the emotional strength to go through the trauma of the characters again! These books are like the TV show The wire. I bought the DVDs of the whole series as I heard it was very good (nearly $300+ ! I am not rich!) but after I saw it once, I simply cant bring myself to see the show again. I found it too traumatizing. It's the best show I have ever seen  but it's  not  a 'feel good"type of a show. Train to Pakistan by Kushwant Singh is a book in this kind of heart breaking category.
I have to add here that I have one weird fault! When people recommend a book to me and sort of emphasize how good that book is, my mind seems to go in the opposite direction! I may agree to read to be polite, but for some reason that, I can't understand, I may not read the book !
Why the $*#* am I so oppositional?  The more strongly they recommend, the less likely I am to read!
Why is my brain so damn resistant to other people's ideas?
I am yet to figure out this aspect of me.
The two movies I saw twice or thrice and loved them the second time too were:  the black and white Telugu movie Marocharitra and the silent movie Pushpaka Vimana! I am sure I don't have the patience to see these movies today as I have changed so much. But at one point in time, I was spellbound by these two movies!

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