A few years ago I wrote up a similar post about books I’d like to reread, but I wanted to do an updated version that was more niche. In this case, these are books I want to reread for one of two reasons:
- I distinctly recall enjoying the book very much, but have almost entirely forgotten it, and could not recall specific details if my life depended on it.
- I read it when I was much younger and would like to reread it with a fresh, older perspective to see how I feel about it now.
Most of the books I mention fall under a combination of two of these conditions.
I am also trying to stay away from series starters, which fall under a whole other category (yes, several of the books I mention are technically part of a series but can also stand alone, so I’m not counting them).
The Blind Assassin
I first read this book as part of a book club back in 2010; I distinctly remember enjoying the fantastical elements of it, but I…really cannot remember anything else about it. I’d like to read more Atwood in general, so I figure a good place to get started is a book I’m sure I enjoyed. Plus I really would like to see if the fantasy elements were as awe-inspiring as I remember them. I’ve always hated all the editions of this book until I randomly found the above edition on BookOutlet!
The Girl in the Road
This is one of the weirder books I’ve read. Meena, a young woman living in some sort of dystopic Mumbai, decides to embark on a journey to Ethiopia to learn about her origins. She will do this by way of The Trail, a kind of…energy bridge spanning the Arabian Sea, and it is its own weird little world. In another timeline, we follow Mariama, a young girl from Western Sahara, who is also making her way to Ethiopia, along with an enigmatic woman who calls herself Yemaya, who might just be the goddess of the seas. Eventually, Meena and Mariama’s storylines converge in a way that I don’t recall the tiny details of, but that I remember being absolutely explosive. I really want to re-experience that explosive twist at the end, but I would also like to try to focus more on what The Trail actually is.
Dreams of Shreds and Tatters
This urban fantasy centers on the city of Carcosa and the King in Yellow, both of which are based in a short story written by Robert W Chambers, who is said to have inspired Lovecraft. We follow Liz, who has been plagued by strange nightmares ever since her best friend disappeared. Her quest to find him leads her to a strange lost city and its bizarre king. While dreams in fiction tend to frustrate me, I really loved the creepy cosmic horror vibes of this book. Now that I know more about cosmic horror in general I’d like to re-experience this, but I’d also like to make sure I read the original King in Yellow tale first.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
This is the OG villain romance, which is a major reason I want to reread it, but it’s also one of the first books I read when I was seriously getting into high fantasy. I’d come off the Song of Ice and Fire high and wanted more in that same vein, and I found Jemisin and proceeded to read her entire backlist. I remember loving the narrative devices employed in this, and seriously, a fantastic villain romance.
How does one even explain Deathless? Put simply, it’s an alternate history retelling of Koschei the Deathless and Marya Morevna set during the Russian Revolution. The main emotion I recall from reading this is complete and utter confusion! I loved some parts, but most of the book had me scratching my head. Now that I have more context and know what I’m meant to be reading about, I think I would appreciate it more the second time around.
Interview With the Vampire
I read this book when I was 11 years old, lmao. Probably not a great decision, in hindsight, but my reading was totally unsupervised and I was obsessed with vampires. I do remember a lot of details from this, but I’m just very curious to re-experience it, and I also wonder if I would even enjoy it at all now. It’s such a classic of vampire literature, which I would like to read more of in general. Oh, also fun fact: I have this exact pictured addition, purchased for 95 cents at a used bookstore in Vermont! It’s a battered, mass market 1976 edition and I adore it.
Flowers in the Attic
I also read this book when I was extremely young, and it imprinted on me in a very weird way. It’s a Gothic saga featuring incest, terrible parents, frightening religious figures, financial greed, and various other bizarre Gothic tropes. I adored this when I read it, and proceeded to reread it (and the rest of the series, because oh yes, it’s a series) several times throughout my adolescent and teen years, and it has most certainly impacted my tastes. But I’ve barely looked at it since I was like…sixteen? I’m very interested to see if it holds up.
The Bell Jar
I read this one in high school, for my AP English class, and remember…almost nothing at all about it. I’m sure I wrote papers on it and analyzed it in some sense, and I do remember the very broad themes inherent in it, but I don’t think I could talk about it in any meaningful way. Now that I’ve become much more familiar with the history of feminism and mental illness in particular, I’m interested to see how I’ll interpret this.
The Night Circus
I read this right when it first came out and fell in love; I had, and still kind of have, an obsession with Circus Books, and this was the pinnacle. However, in the last decade I’ve kind of lost patience with very whimsical books, so it’ll be interesting to see if I’ll appreciate this in the same way or if I’ll be frustrated with it. Not to mention its ten year anniversary is coming up and people are talking about it more often these days, so it would be nice to recall the details.
The Secret History
Okay, so I read this in 2015 and like, though it was…fine? Again, I remember almost nothing about it except in very broad strokes, but it’s the sort of modern classic that behooves one to reread. BUT if I’m being totally honest, the main reason I want to reread is because Rebecca Kuang’s new book BABEL is described as being The Secret History meets Jonathan Strange (ugh, guess I gotta read that at some point) so I really want to have it in the back of my mind as a point of reference as I read Kuang’s book. I also want to try to appreciate this more — I remember thinking it was kind of boring and pretentious, but now I want to read it knowing that all that is intentional. Plus I’ve absorbed so many memes about this book since then I have a totally different perspective.
I was both surprised and underwhelmed by this when I read it in the beginnings of my foray into Gothic fiction, but again, having absorbed memes and actual analysis of this since then, I’d like to read it again and pay more attention to its themes and iconic lines. Now that I actually know what happens, instead of the highly romanticized version transmitted through cultural osmosis, I think I’ll appreciate it more.
The Haunting of Hill House
I distinctly remember enjoying this book when I read it in 2011 and being very surprised by said enjoyment. Since then I’ve read Shirley Jackson’s other famous book, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and kind of hated it, so I want to revisit this one to see if I still like it. Plus I’ve been wanting to watch the TV adaptation for two years now. I know it’s completely different from the book, but still!
World War Z
I absolutely loved World War Z the first time I read it, and I found it so affecting that it gave me actual panic attacks. I loved how smart this was, how the author went into all the political and practical ramifications of a zombie apocalypse. I’m planning on buddy reading this with a friend this time so we can discuss the author’s political stuff in particular (like, I distinctly remember him having a really Weird Take on Israel, one that is even more unbelievable now in the wake of how Israel has been treating Palestinians with regards to the Covid vaccine). It was such a wild ride, though, that I’m mostly looking forward to rereading this for fun.