Monday, June 18, 2012

What Single Book Have You Read The Most Times?

For me, I think it would have to be either:

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, which I read at my grandmother's house the summer I was 11. It completely blew my preteen mind...despite the fact that it's over 800 pages, I read it a couple of times a year from then on. I also dabbled in Wicca and became an avowed Anglophile throughout middle school, basically because of the book (I know!). I still love Arthurian legends and stone circles, and I think the book definitely contributed to my feminist consciousness, as it's all priestesses and Goddess power and fuck patriarchal religion.  I haven't read it in maybe eighteen months, but I'm due.


The Ordinary Princess, a book I stole from my third grade classroom and read all the time throughout my childhood. It's by M.M. Kaye, who wrote The Far Pavilions, and it's probably the most charming fairy tale ever.  It's a book about a princess named Amethyst who is "cursed" at her christening with ordinariness, which means she is plain and plucky and smart. She's nicknamed Amy (so normal!) and she doesn't grow long blonde hair or pale white skin like her perfect princess sisters. When her parents try to marry her off in spite of her plainness, she escapes to a neighboring kingdom and gets a job as a kitchen maid. She also falls in love, of course. It's such good book; so funny, so spunky, so everything you want when you're a bookish little girl who loves princesses, especially those who refuse to be locked up and saved. I actually recently reread it because I wanted to write something about it, but it didn't really work, the essay I was planning. 

How about you? What novel or book of stories or poems have you read the most times, ever? Why?


  1. The first novel I bought after I left school—i.e. the first grownup novel I was not made to read—was from a small newsagents on Burn’s Square in Ayr. I was sixteen at the time and it cost me 35p. That would be in 1975 and I still own that original Penguin edition. I have read it roughly every ten years since. It was One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

  2. There's two I keep coming back to:
    -A clockwork orange by Anthony Burgess, which never fails to amaze me with the inventiveness of its language, how far Burgess goes with it and yet it's still really manageable.

    -The Master and Marguerita, by Mikhail Bulgakov. It showed me stuff I didn't know you could do when I first read it, and I was deeply saddened when I finished it, thinking I would never again read that ending for the first time. Then I reread it, several times, and although it wasn't the first time anymore it still amazed me.

  3. That would have to be In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan. My father gave it to me when I was about 7 years old and I have read it at least once a year ever since, so 25+ times. It's like comfort food.

    BTW, to answer your comment it's Double Take at 320 Aztec Street, Santa Fe. It has so many sections from fine designer and vintage to ranch/cowboy, a huge space of regular thrift, and upstairs full of vintage home goods, and another upstairs with fine art.