What books do you return to year after year?

woodwifeWhat do you do when—and I know other authors will hate this phrase—you run out of “factory fresh books”?

Suddenly, all the books on the nightstand have been read, all the Amazon boxes opened, and the other nooks and crannies emptied of new reading material. I try not to let this happen often.

When it does, I either rummage through the books on my wife’s shelves or re-read a favorite. I tend to return to the same books over and over rather than adventurously taking equally great books off the shelf that aren’t (for me) the kind of book-comfort-food I’m seeking.

This Christmas holiday, my wife and I visited non-WiFi relatives and—without the distractions of the Internet—I knew I’d need a good book. I chose Terri Windling’s “The Wood Wife.” I like this book for its visceral portrayal of the desert and for it’s magical realism. I think Carlos Castaneda would have liked this book because Windling focuses on some of the same kinds of ephemeral, or potentially ephemeral, spirit entities that we found in Castaneda’s Don Juan books.

Like Castaneda’s work, this book takes me outside my comfort zones of mountains, forests. swamps and coastlines. I’m used to Mother Nature as I find her within my comfort zones. Though beautiful, the desert and its spirits are very alien. I find it exciting from time to time to confront “the other” in the desert that is so very different from “the other” in mountains and woods.

More Favorites

  • I often return to Katherine Neville’s “The Eight” and “The Fire” because they are long, complex and feature plots that are so intricate that I cannot remember all the ins and outs until after they come and go in each re-reading.
  • Pat Controy’s books, most especially “The Prince of Tides,” draw me back again and again. I like Conroy’s descriptions of his place settings.
  • Though a lot of people do not remember “The Great Gatsby” fondly, I find it compelling enough to draw me back again and again. Perhaps it’s the look into a very different time and place that I like.
  • “The Shadow of the Wind” has always been a favorite for its depth and its magic.

What about you? Do you have four or five favorites you can easily read again and again when you’re waiting to make a trip to the bookstore or simply need something old and familiar?


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of contemporary fantasy novels, including “The Sun Singer”

A Glacier Park Fantasy Novel
A Glacier Park Fantasy Novel

4 thoughts on “What books do you return to year after year?

  1. You mean besides The Lord of the Rings? 🙂
    I reread The Chronicles of Narnia often, as well as the Outlander series, the Anne of Green Gables series, A Wrinkle in Time series, Kit Pearson and Katherine Paterson’s YA books, John Bellairs, The Stand, Bukowski, Eliot, Keats, and – okay, I guess I’ve got a lot.

  2. Malcolm: I have one I like to read again and again. “To Kill a Mockingbird.” This interest in re-reading it was sparked by my niece’s interest in it when it was assigned in her English class. She whined and kvetched a bit before she cracked the book open, but now she’s glad she did.

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