Sometimes, when school, family, friends and just ... life get a little too much, we need to find comfort in the familiar. For some of us, that comes from pages of books we can read over and over. And over.
Here are Team YP’s favourite re-reads:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Young adult? Check. Dystopian? Check. Stoic female protagonist, unaware of her effect on people around her? Check and check. I love a good cliché, and this series dishes them up in spades. There’s more to uncover every time I read it, from the class divides, to the implied backstories of older characters. Erm, prequel with Haymitch, Effie and co, please, Collins.
Liquidation by Imre Kertesz
Set during the fall of communism, this is about a writer who, like Kertesz, survived Auschwitz. Fiction and reality intertwine so seamlessly, there is always something new to discover. Add to that its poetic value, and ambiguous narrative form, and I can’t get enough.
The Immortals series by Tamora Pierce
I first read this series when I was 16, and fell in love with the headstrong heroine, Daine, and her amazing powers. I love her journey; how she discovers her powers and hones them, how she strives always to become a stronger and better person. She also has a pet dragon, and that’s pretty cool.
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
This is exactly what the title suggests – it doesn’t quite explain all of the world’s mysteries, but describes the development of science as neatly and tidily as can be done in a single book, in an engaging, understandable way. If you’re one of those people whose interest in science has been killed by boring lessons, this book might help reignite some of that passion. Or if you just want to learn something new, this book can help there, too.
The Ten Thousand Things by John Spurling
This novel, set in the turbulent years that marked the end of the Yuan Dynasty in China, follows Wang Meng, a government official who went on to become one of the four great artists from that period. The story is great, but the real appeal is Spurling’s ability to write with such magnificent precision that a simple brush stroke or new painting technique is as dramatic as the political drama surrounding it.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
I’m a huge fan of classic detective fiction; I suppose part of the fun is that you can always go back to them after a while, because you forget who the murderer is. This classic tells of 10 people with mysterious pasts who are invited to an isolated island, and killed off, one by one. Spine-chillingly brilliant.
Champlain’s Dream by David Hackett Fischer
This biography of Samuel de Champlain offers fascinating insights into French colonial history, and tells of one man’s desire to create utopia, far away from the wars in his home country. Fischer’s excellent research is enhanced with beautiful drawings, paintings and quotes, making this something I go back to time and again.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I read this book every Christmas. At first, the story seems simple: Scout Finch’s rose-tinted memories of long, languid summers in the American deep south, and her idealised image of her father, Atticus, who acts as her moral compass. But as the themes are woven together, the story’s message becomes much deeper, allowing the reader to view a deeply prejudiced society through the eyes of a child.
Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick
This journalistic account of the lives of six North Korean defectors shines a light on that baffling country, in a way that no book really did before. Fascinating.
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
In this hilarious story, Allan Karlsson plays a role in almost every major event of the 20th century. Every time you read it, you get a new understanding of history. And amazingly, the jokes never get out.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I read this on average once a year. All of Austen’s witty depictions of middle-class life, and of the struggles faced by women are re-readable, but there’s something about the five sisters of P&P that means I can’t leave them alone for long. (Incidentally, one of my most watched films is the BBC version of the story; I’m an addict.)