I read a couple of books each week. After all, my job at Nashville’s great independent bookstore, Parnassus, is “book enthusiast at large.” Like a lot of booksellers, I pull almost exclusively from a teetering stack of advance reader copies, titles that won’t be out yet for months, but which have come to my attention via enthusiastic editors or about which I’ve heard some tidbit that piqued my interest. I almost never re-read a book; there just isn’t time to go back when it’s my job to read ahead. Plus, once I’ve lived in a story—walked its landscape and put myself into the heads of its characters—I’ve absorbed it. It’s in me. I don’t need to experience it again. In fact, if I really loved it, I don’t want to try to experience it again. What if it doesn’t hold up? I’d rather preserve that perfect first-read feeling.
But every now and then, for one reason or another, I make an exception. Here are a few of those special books I return to again and again over time. (I’m pleased to report none of them have let me down on the re-read.)