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.)
The students of Hailsham are special. That’s what they’ve been told. Isolated from the outside world, they’re raised from birth as “donors,” their bodily organs harvested for wealthy patrons. But this is no schlocky sci-fi; it’s a gently observed drama. Existential, painful, and unforgettable, NEVER LET ME GO explores how even the most disenfranchised and doomed characters find meaning, hope, and love, even as they resign themselves to a life cut horribly short.
Crazy like: You’d be too.
Best crazy moment: The whole damn book.
Read the full review of HEARTBURN.
When a bedbug scare leads to a mass burning of the prison library’s books, the inmates memorialize the lost tomes. These include, in Poussey’s words, “All the David Sedarises.” His newest laugh-out-loud funny book is sure to be missed.
“Life changes fast.”
Read the full review of HYPERBOLE AND A HALF.
“I have read very few books in my life that compelled me to laugh so loudly in public that it made the people around me visibly uncomfortable. Allie Brosh’s HYPERBOLE AND A HALF is one of them.”