Question of the Day – Three Books You’ve Read More Than Three Times

List three books you’ve read more than three times.

Wow, I don’t think I can answer this question. I’ve read a lot of books in my life. I have a BA and MA in literature, so I’m sure I’ve read more than the average person. In spite of how much I have read, I am painfully aware of how much I haven’t read. Every time I see a “100 Books You Must Read Before You Die” list or “Books Every English Major Must Read,” I am always shocked by how many I haven’t read. Because of this, I rarely read books more than once. Who has time to read something again? I’d rather read something new than read something I’ve already read. If I had world enough and time, sure there are some I would like to read again. So here are three books I would like to read again.

silmarillionThe Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien

Of course, I love the Lord of the Rings, but my favorite Tolkien book is The Silmarillion. The Silmarillion gets a lot of flack for being difficult and abstract, but if you can read the Bible, you can read The Silmarillion. It’s a beautiful book that gives you all the fascinating history of Middle Earth.

the-monkThe Monk by Matthew Lewis

Yeah, I wrote about this book last week too, but it’s important to me and doesn’t get near enough attention. A Gothic novel written by a 20 year old guy in 1796 might not sound like an enjoyable romp to most people, but the book is amazing. It’s funny and scary and so full of drama it can be hard to put down. The only problem is that it is really long, so I haven’t had time to sit down and read it in years.

thegoodThe Good Women of China by Xinran

The Good Women of China is an amazing book that recounts the every day lives of women in China. This is one that I certainly will read again, hopefully sooner rather than later. I have not found many academic articles on Xinran’s work, so I would like to write some myself. When Xinran first began collecting stories from women in China, very few people, even women, knew anything about Chinese women. I know that seems like a very bizarre statement to make, but it is true. Women were expected to stay silent and keep their pain and their stories to themselves. Xinran found that women in China usually knew nothing about what it really means to be a woman, knew nothing about their relationships with each other or with men, and knew nothing of sexuality. Xinran’s idea of exploring women’s lives was considered radical and she was routinely shocked by the things she learned.

The stories are heartbreaking. Most of the women were victims of rape at one point. I sobbed while I read the chapter on the mothers who lost their children in the great Tangshan earthquake in 1976. I was sickened by the story of the Guomindan general’s daughter. These stories are not for the faint of heart, but they are all true. And even though the stories are 30, 40, 50+ years old, they are not so far removed as to be irrelevant and help explain why the role of women in China today is the way it is.

If you want to understand more about women in China, this is the quintessential guide.

So what about you? What books have you read three times or what books would you read again if you had the time?