Top Baker’s Half-Dozen Most Re-Read Stories

I could be thinking of “Most re-read titles ever,” in which case I would probably be thinking of the Vorkosigan series or maybe Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos series or I’m not sure what.

But what I have in mind is actually: The titles I’ve re-read the most in the past three years or so, because it occurred to me that I can absolutely pick those out of the herd, since I’ve been keeping track of my reading for that long. It turns out that, though I’ve re-read a lot of books, some titles REALLY leap out of the herd. Here they are:

1. The Goblin Emperor by “Katherine Addison”. First published in spring of last year; I’ve read it, it turns out, no fewer than four times already.

2. The Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells. I’ve read it four times in three years.

3. The Fall of Ile-Rien by Martha Wells again. I’ve read the whole trilogy straight through three times in three years.

4. The Wheel of the Infinite by Martha Wells yet again. I’ve read it three times in three years.

5. The Raksura trilogy by, yes, Martha Wells. I’ve read the whole trilogy straight through three times in three years and I’ve re-read The Siren Depths an extra time.

6. The Touchstone trilogy by Andrea K. Höst. I’ve read it three times in three years, and I recently realized that I would really like to read it again now, except I don’t have time. It is quite likely I will read it in November, which is the earliest I expect to have a significant break from my own writing. The whole enormous TBR pile can wait if I turn out to really want to read that.

7. The Medair duology by Andrea K. Höst, which I’ve read three times in three years.

Pretty repetitious list, isn’t it? I think this gets into another type of consideration:

Which stories are just as good on a second reading? Which seem even better when re-read than they were the first time?

For me, all of these books are at least as good on the second read and maybe even more enjoyable than they were the first time through. I think this is for me likely to be the case if I was tense about the resolution the first time through and can relax on the second reading; or if I read the book rather fast the first time through and can enjoy the deep worldbuilding more on the second reading; or if there was a shocking plot twist that took me by surprise the first time through and I’m enjoying watching the author set it up on the second reading.

Also, the main characters have to . . . have to . . . be pleasant to spend time with. This doesn’t mean *nice.* Tremaine in the Ile-Rien trilogy is not *nice.* But I love spending time in her head.


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13 thoughts on “Top Baker’s Half-Dozen Most Re-Read Stories”

  1. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo (which came out last year). I read it months ago and wanted to read it again. So glad I did–it just gets better and better with each read! It reminds me of an adult version of the anime, Spirited Away. The other recent re-read was The Winner’s Curse, a YA novel published last year (I think). I wanted to read it again before reading the sequel, and also glad I did. The concept is SO interesting! Without giving away too many spoilers, it’s intriguing when you realize that the protagonists (who readers usually naturally root for) that can be sympathised with might not be the actual good characters…It really made me think before deciding which side to cheer for, which doesn’t always happen in fantasy novels (because there’s usually a clear good and bad side based on their causes and actions).

  2. Katie, that’s so interesting about possibly separating the protagonists that you are rooting for from the good characters that you *should* be rooting for. I’m going to add that to my wishlist…

  3. Touchstone comfort reread ftw ^^. The Foreigner series (not all of them) are rereads, too. My most reliable yearly reread is Michelle Sagara West’s Elantra series. I can highly recommend Kaylin Neya and company ^^.

  4. Host’s Medair, and Eferum; most McKillip, most CJC, Dorothy Dunnett. Sagara – not the West books – also. Some early Sagara West books, I often find myself haunted by the Hunter duo.

    speaking of protaganists who aren’t necessarily good characters, I nominate Ari II. Although I do think she tries, her starting assumptions due to Ari I give me the creeps and probably the only really sane character is the one who at .. Denys'(?) .. funeral yells at them to stop trying to replicate people.

  5. Just finished reading The Cloud Roads and am excited to get to The Serpent Sea. I can see this series becoming a re-read candidate.

    I’ve read all of LMBujold at least twice, and the Vorkosigan books often enough I swear I’ve memorized them.

    Before I discovered LMB, Robin McKinley was my go-to comfort re-read, and DWJones. Also Connie Willis. Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series.

    And of course, MWTurner. King of Attolia I think is the one I’ve reread most but I’ve read all of them at least three or four times.

    More recently Sherwood Smith, Andrea Host, and I’ve already re-read Black Dog and Pure Magic twice. :)

  6. My biggest love is Dune. I reread the at least the first 4 books at least once every three years. Yes, there is the immense familiar comfort of passages I can recite from memory, but there are also so many layers that it’s been a completely different read every time.

    Next is The Last Unicorn. Like a harpoon to the heart, that one. I’ve spent the last couple of years working my way through Beagle’s whole backlist, most of which I can’t wait to read again.

    Finally, there is a YA Japanese manga series called Fruits Basket that I first read as it was being serialized (8 years at 20-40 pages per month). It is well-crafted and has held up to so many rereads over the years, in both languages.

    There are countless others that I’ve only read once or twice and countless more than that that I want to reread for the first time.

  7. Elaine, for all-time-ever-most-re-read, Cyteen is a contender. I do like Ari a lot, even though I grant you she does have issues. But this is a book where I re-read often but ALWAYS skip the early part of the book. I start when Ari II makes her appearance.

    Kim, I love the Attolia books and have read TQofA and TKofA a bunch of times. And I’m glad Black Dog and Pure Magic are re-reads for you!

    Macs, now I have a sudden desire to re-read Dune . . . though just that one book. I’ve re-read it a bunch of times, but I bet it’s been at least ten years since I last read it. Or maybe 20 . . . time flies. The Last Unicorn *is* really beautiful. If I re-read it, I bet I would go off on a Peter S Beagle kick, although TLU is my favorite of his.

  8. @Andrea – I have heard. Unfortunately, I didn’t read the two series in between yet (though I own them) and at this point my Japanese has deteriorated so much from lack of use that I don’t know if I can get through them at all.

    @Rachel – I still haven’t read the 4th Attolia book because I need to reread the whole series first. I agree that the first 3 were great. Many of the other books people have mentioned I’d also love to reread. I finished the Vorkosigan books for the first time this year, and I’m still only halfway through Robin McKinley’s backlist, and I’m only halfway through your backlist too! So many good things to look forward to reading and reading again.

  9. I love rereading. Bujold tops the list, also MWT, Robin McKinley, Patricia McKillip, Anne McCaffrey’s early Dragon books, Andrea Host, Guy Gavriel Kay, Carla Kelly and Georgette Heyer (for romance), and Emma Bull. I just started to reread hers AGAIN, which I haven’t done in a long time because it has been so long since she published anything and I don’t want to use her up too fast. Judith Tarr. Patricia Briggs – beyond her Mercy Thompson series I love her Hurog books. Wen Spencer. Katherine Addison/Sarah Monette (more the books she wrote with Elizabeth Bear – that other series is pretty dense and angsty, and by around the third book I want to beat all the characters in the head, and say “Get over it already!”.) I think the books I may have read the most, since we had ’em as kids and were forced to reread due to lack of anything else, are “The Scarlet Pimpernel” and “Scaramouche.” I liked the first better as a kid, but “Scaramouche” better now. Again, from the desire to pop Marguerite in the head and say, “Come on! Really?” And finally Tanya Huff – not so much her Vicky Nelson books, though I really enjoy the spinoff “Smoke” series, but just about everything else. I need to stop – I could go on forever here…. SO many books, just one lifetime!

  10. This year it is Karen Memory, which I have now read three times. Other years, Martha Wells probably tops the list, with Bujold a close second.

  11. I’m certainly getting inclined to move Karen Memory up to “must-read-soon” status.

    Mary Anne, the Hurog duology is my other favorite by Patricia Briggs, too!

    For most-times-read-ever, classics edition, for me it would be The Count of Monte Christo. I never have read Scaramouche, though I have it on my TBR pile.

    Macs, I know, there are SO many series stacking up where I would like the read the latest, but not until I can re-read the whole series!

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