On the re-reading of series

I’ve just been reading a post, and the subsequent comments, over at Tor.com titled Re-reading Long Series. There’s something very satisfying about seeing a whole bunch of people talking with enthusiasm about re-reading the same series of books that I too love re-reading. There were a number of series I haven’t read mentioned as well, perhaps I should give them a go.

There are a few series that I re-read on a fairly regular basis, I love coming back to the familiar characters and watching the stories unfold with the pleasure of knowing how all the puzzle pieces fit together. It’s about appreciating the craftsmanship of the writing, noticing all the little details that are imbued with so much more meaning now that I know where they are leading. Noticing details that I missed the first, second, even third time through (I read fast, the first time through I’m all about finding out what happens next). Revisiting worlds that I love, immersing myself in the series’ universe and reveling in the fact that I can stay there for many, many hours as I work my way through anything from 3 to 36* books.

Here’s my (probably incomplete) list of series re-reads. Some I’ll come back to on a yearly basis, others I revisit when there’s a new addition to the series and some I haven’t re-read in years but really should dig out and rediscover.

Dorothy L. Sayers – Lord Peter Whimsey
Terry Pratchett – Discworld
Lois McMaster BujoldThe Vorkosigan Saga, The Chalion books and The Sharing Knife
Dorothy DunnettThe Lymond Chronicles, The House of Niccolo
C. J. CherryhForeigner
Arthur RansomeSwallows and Amazons
Madeleine L’Engle – The Time Quintet
Marion Zimmer Bradley – Darkover
C.S. Lewis – Narnia
Tolkien – Lord Of The Rings
Susan Cooper – Dark is Rising
John Marsden – The Tomorrow series
C. S. Forester – Hornblower
James Herriot‘s vet books
Spike Milligan‘s war memoirs
Sharon Kay Penman – The Welsh trilogy: Here De Dragons, Falls the Shadow, and The Reckoning.

I even went and wandered around my bookshelves when compiling this list in an attempt not to forget any of my favourites. What I noticed (aside from the fact that my bookshelves require a “wander” to peruse rather than a “stand in front of”) is that there are a fair few series on my shelves that I used to re-read regularly many years ago but which I now have no desire to re-visit. I wonder if I would be recaptured should I venture into those worlds again. Experience suggests not as I also found some series which I have tried in recent times after many years absence only to find my that either my tastes have changed or I’m much less tolerant of less than wonderful writing now that I have rather less time to spend with book in hand.

Are you a re-reader of entire series and if so what are your particular favourites?

*Ok, I haven’t actually done the Discworld series from go to woe since it reached such gargantuan proportions.

3 thoughts on “On the re-reading of series

  1. I am so NOT the fast reader. I only get something new out of a book years later. But one day I hope I will manage to read The Last Battle. I was put in mind of it when Leisel Jones was talking about her training regime that resulted in her throwing up in her garden, and I thought “If she can do that, I can read The Last Battle”.Or maybe I can just read “Pyramids” again… 🙂

  2. Tamora Pierce’s multiple series – Song of the Lioness, Immortals, Protector of the Small, Trickster’s Couplet, Provost’s Dog, Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens. I started reading these when I was 11 and she’s still writing! I recently introduced Luke to them and he really enjoyed reading the lot.They have such a strong female self-worth message which was really important to me as a teenager.David Eddings is another writer I will occasionally reread the entire series although as I get older it is loosing its appeal. Strange that a writer such as Tamora Pierce who writes for young adults is still valid for me but one who writes for grownups is not.

  3. No. Don’t bother with “The Last Battle”. Really 😛 “Pyramids” on the other hand I quite like.I’ve never read any Tamora Pierce but I’m beginning to think I should. Eddings I gave up on without a serious attempt at re-reading, too repetitive for me.

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