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As longtime forum readers know, I rarely visit GA. Nothing against it other than I find it difficult to nagivate. But I was there this morning because someone emailed me a link that took me there. And while there, having my usual problems getting around the site, I stumbled onto a forum discussion that I believe Graeme started, asking what five books you'd choose if those there the only books you could have forever. Or something like that.

Curious because I read books all the time, I scrolled through the ones offered by various readers there and was caught by surprise not so much by what people chose but more by what people didn't.

Many of the people stated they don't reread books. Well, I do, especially books that have a lot of messages in them and that are well-written and captivating. I've read two books in particular over and over again during my life. One of them was on a few of the lists offered at GA. The other didn't ever get mentioned, which I find puzzling as it's one of my favorites.

I reread Huckleberry Finn every eight to ten years, and find it amazing every time I do. Like reading it anew every time. Wonderful book, wonderful writing. That book did make the GA lists a few times. I was happy to see that.

The other one I've probably read ten times or more and loved is To Kill a Mockingbird. It never made any of their lists. I'd have to guess this was simply an oversight. It's another book that can be read several times and still seem fresh. It's a stunning, fantastic book that deserves to be read again and again.

A lot of the books mentioned on the GA lists were unknown to me, both titles and authors. But I don't read fantasy.

I couldn't begin to list just five books that fit their criterion. Impossible choice.


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I've read Patrick O'Brian's entire Aubrey/Maturin series twice, and it's still there on the shelf in case the mood strikes again. I've been through all of Jack Vance's works at least twice, more frequently for many of them. Same with Wodehouse. Both of those I could give another go or two. Plenty of others.

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There are so many books out there, so many that are good and perspective changing, that it would be incredibly unlikely for everyone to have the same list. It doesn't surprise me in the slightest that books one would consider to be life changing for them might not make it on to others' lists, because five is a very small number to have to pick from the vast library available to us in this age. I don't think To Kill a Mockingbird would make it onto my top five, but I'd say it's probably in my top twenty. But I could probably list a hundred books that I would want to take with me and whittling it down to five would be incredibly difficult.

I've never read Huckleberry Finn. Maybe I should give it a whirl?

I know it would surprise those familiar with what I write, but I don't think that much fantasy would make it into my top five either. I'd be far more inclined to take things more philosophically minded, like Original Wisdom by Robert Wolff.

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Like Cole I would be hard pressed to name my top five favorites because with each book I read I keep hoping to add to my list of all time favorites. Kill a Mockingbird was a wonderful book for so many reasons and not just because it discusses racism and discrimination. The characters are so real that when I finally saw the film I recognized those people.

I do re-read certain books although it has been a while for some of them. I re-read the Hobbit before seeing the first film of this second trilogy. Before the LOTR's films came out I had read that trilogy several times, in high school and college. But then after the films I read the books again because I was astounded that Peter Jackson's vision was so close to the images I had in my head.

Patrick O'Brian's sea stories are well worth reading more than once as are some of the lighter Mark Twain books. I think what we read is timed to fit with the thoughts in our heads at a certain point in life. O'Brian and Tolkien are great "escape" works that tend to smother all the nasty realities in life by giving us the occasional nasty fantasy :icon1:

I currently finished reading Tokyo Kill, the second book in a series by Barry Lancet, a fairly new author. Nothing like a good murder mystery...eh Cole? The first book was Japantown and the title drew me in and his prose was outstanding. I have shared some of my thoughts on living in Japan with him and he is very insightful, of course he has lived there on and off for 20 years. He's a fine example of an author who responds to thoughtful readers and I await his third book.

Hope I didn't wander too far afield here...what was the discussion about?

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I have the same thoughts about GA, wonderful content, horrible site design (and they are, for some reason, reluctant to accept the feedback they get on this). I saw that discussion as well.

I re-read the Lord of the Rings every few years, and I love Cole's inclusion of To Kill A Mockingbird. I've been a science fiction reader since I knew how to read, and fell in love with the genre back when I was still in elementary school, so included on the list are Asimov, Bradbury, early Heinlein, and a few others.

A novel the struck a chord with me as a teen, and that not many have ever heard of I'm sure, is one I pick up and re-read every once in a while, just because it reminds me so much of how I felt the first time I read it. Emergence by David Palmer is that novel. Despite its relative obscurity, it won or was nominated for a number of awards, including a Hugo, a Nebula, a couple of Locus awards, the Philip K Dick award and it won the Compton Crook Award.

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