The Books I love to Re-Read.

It has been an absolutely wonderful weekend. More time with Liam than I have had in a long time and he was rock solid the whole time. Karin got the sniffles so we benched her and I subbed in as chief snuggler, feeder, pharmacy and diaper changer. We had a great deal of fun and I enjoyed the responsibility.

I watched Rainn Wilson’s The Rocker on HBO the other night and loved it. I decided to give up on Palahniuk’s new one Pygmy as it hasgotten too violent for me. I listened to my friend Anthony’s band’s (Barn Burning) newer album Werner Ghost Truck and loved it. Hmmm I guess that’s it for this weekend. I did watch me some Law & Order’s this weekend though. All types too! SVU, Criminal Intent and both old school and new plain old vanilla. Oh, and I watched as the Patriots marched over Miami on their way back to the playoffs.

I don’t often give up on books. I like to try and trudge through to the end hoping for some kind of twist moment that makes me all of a sudden adore the author or style as if it just took time to appreciate it. Sometimes I just can’t make it through, but instead of wanting to read any of the titles I haven’t read yet that sit on my shelves I’m thinking of re-reading Catch-22. Again.

There are a few books that I go back to every few years. Some of them during specific seasons. Here is a list of a few…

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. This one I’ve read far more than any other book. changed the way I looked at books and the way they were written. I carried a copy of this in my backpack / Overcoat pocket for most of my early 20’s. If I ever want a jolt of inspiration or motivation I read Cat’s Cradle. I definitely read this once a year as it can be read in one sitting; Most years though it probably closer to 3 or 4.

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein. My father was very adamant that I read Tolkein’s masterpiece when I was in the seventh grade. I have read it every 2 or 3 years ever since. Fellowship feels like a warm cup of hot chocolate to me as I almost always start it on January 1st. A Bi-Annual tradition of sorts. Come in from the cold of a blustery wintry day to warm up of thoughts of Rivendell and Lothlorian. In a comforting coincidence because of their release dates the extended release DVD’s of the movies have also become a holiday tradition for me and my family which serves as a nice warm-up for the re-reads.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. The great American novel. My Wife and Mom hate it when I read this one. All it does is make me depressed for a couple of weeks. I cry every time. Sometimes we need to read things that make us sad, and angry, and frustrated, and yes, even depressed. It is so exquisitely beautiful in language and tone. Steinbeck rivals Vonnegut as my favorite writers of all time. (Truth be told, I’m a few years overdue for a re-read on this but I just don’t think I have the strength to endure it. As the father of a very sick infant I have enough stress and as an aspiring writer I don’t think I could take the internal comparison and criticism of my own work this would bring. How could I possibly think I could come even close to creating something as wonderful? And if I can’t, then why bother?)

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. By far the funniest writing I have ever read. I, like most, read this in my freshman year of college and was laughing all the way through. Are we allowed to make fun of military service during WWII? I wasn’t sure but I was so glad that Heller did. This is a summertime read for me. It always seemed hot on Pianosa.

The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. The not-to-be-overlooked runner-up in my funniest books category. My good friend Patrick Farrell introduced me to Adams and although at the time I was unable to understand some of the subtleties of British humor it was Adams that prepared me for Monty Python not the other way around. Heller and Adams showed me that serious literature with real messages could also make people laugh so hard they get stared at by the strangers around them on the bus. An Autumn read. I have no idea why on this one but I always seem to read it in the fall.

There are a few more beyond that but I’m getting tired and those are the important ones. Someday I’ll put together a list of the short stories I keep going back to over and over. Hope you like Flannery O’Connor, Dan Chaon, Vonnegut (of course) and Twain.

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