Thursday, March 13, 2014

Which books do you keep going back to, and why?

Statue of the God Horus
as a Falcon
, Egypt,
Ptolemaic period
(335-30 BC), Art
Institute of Chicago
My re-reading of The Maltese Falcon this week sparked a Facebook post that enlarged my TBR list and may have introduced a reader to the delights of Bill James.

I asked readers which books they had read the greatest number of times, and why they keep reading it. Now I'll ask you: Which books have you read most often? And why?
***
P.S. Among the passages I noted during this reading of The Maltese Falcon was Sam Spade relating the black bird's history to Effie Perrine
"as he had heard it from Gutman, from Charles V's grant to the Hospitallers up to--but no further than--the enameled birds's arrival in Paris at the time of the Carlist influx."
How many crime writers today would feel confident enough to use influx in a novel, much less of the Carlist variety? Thing is, Hammett provides the context that works the reference smoothly into the story, illuminating the falcon's origins for even the reader unfamiliar with Spanish imperial history. He was not, in other words, afraid to show bit of learning.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

Labels: , ,

12 Comments:

Blogger RT said...

I return repeatedly to Colin Dexter 's Morse novels.....other repeats include Red Harvest, Farewell My Lovely, and The Chill.

March 13, 2014  
Blogger RT said...

PS...the reasons "why" for those books are obvious to anyone who has read those books...

March 13, 2014  
Blogger Dana King said...

THE MALTESE FALCON, RED HARVEST, THE BIG SLEEP, FAREWELL MY LOVELY, THE LONG GOODBYE. Adrian McKinty's Troubles Trilogy could become constant re-reads; it's too soon to tell.

Why do I re-read them? Hard to say, though RT hit a bit of it. There's something about all of those books that captures me, makes me think "i'm involved in something special here" while I'm reading them. As a writer, I should be able to quantify it better than that, but I can't. Not yet, anyway.

March 13, 2014  
Blogger Cary Watson said...

I'd reread more books, but thanks to working in a library I'm constantly succumbing to the temptation of new, shiny novels. My short list of rereads would include Oblomov, Titus Groan & Gormenghast, Light in August, The Wind in the Willows, The Big Sleep, and (here's an outlier) The Man-Eaters of Kumaon, a true account of hunting man-eating tigers in 1920s India.

March 13, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Discussion on the social media string that gave rise to this post has turned to The Long Goodbye. I'm a firm believer in canons. There's a reason crime fiction readers keep reading Hammett and Chandler after endless Stieg Larssons have receded from the memory of all but their accountants and tax lawyers.

March 13, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

R.T.: In that same discussion, a consensus may be developing that The Chill is Ross MacDonald's best, or at least the novel I ought to read when I give MacDonald another try.

March 13, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Cary, I have added The Man-Eaters of Kumaon to my mental TBR pile. Thanks.

March 13, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And you can do so as well, by clicking here. (I presume the book is safely in the public domain. If it is not, let me know.)

March 13, 2014  
Blogger Cary Watson said...

Corbett died in 1955, so the book should be public domain. It's a wonderful combination of natural history, travelogue and thriller.

March 13, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. I may make this my next book. The price is right even if the edition will not be of the highest quality.

March 13, 2014  
Blogger RT said...

http://beyondeastrod.blogspot.com/

March 15, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Or, to put that another way, http://beyondeastrod.blogspot.com/

March 15, 2014  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home