Books You Should Re-Read?
Bill Quick

Books People Only Pretend to Have Read | Daily Pundit

Referring to books you should read twice, Billy Hollis sez:

I’d be interested in other DPer’s candidates for such a list.

By this he means books that are so complex they repay a second reading – or more.

My entries on such a list would be books that I, personally, have found much value in reading, and re-reading.

1.  Accelerando, by Charles Stross.  Still one of the best SF visions of the tech singularity, written by a guy who spent much of his life making his living by writing about technology.  I’ve re-read it half a dozen times.

2.  Ditto Fire Upon the Deep, Vernor Vinge’s vision of pre-and post-singularity societies.  I read the whole thing the first time around, but it is essentially two novels smushed together – one about the advanced tech cultures of the Beyond, and one about a primitive war between interesting aliens.  The alien war is interesting the first time around, but all of my re-reads have skipped it entirely, and included only the tech and post-tech aspects.

3.  Re:  Heinlein.  I re-read Stranger a couple of times, but not in the past 25 years or so.  It really doesn’t wear well for me.  OTOH, I re-read both The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Starship Troopers every five years or so.  They never seem to grow old.

4.  I’ve read Cryptonomicon three times now, most recently about six months ago.  I find myself paying more and more attention to his descriptions of the tech culture in California, which is the most influential tech culture in the world.

5.  Generations is always good for a re-read.  Correlation doesn’t mean causation, but its predictions correlate really well with much of what we see now.  And every time you get a year deeper into current history, you’ll see more of them with a re-read.

6.  If you want to know what Ayn Rand is about without reading everything, give The Ayn Rand Lexicon a shot.  It’s arranged like an encyclopedia, with every topic filled with cites and quotes to all of her work that touches on those topics.  Think of it as a condensed shot of Objectivism without all the long speeches.  Very dense to read in a sitting, though.  But it repays the effort.

7.  This is pure space opera fluff, but I reread most of Peter Hamilton’s stuff on a regular basis.  My favoreit of all his creations is the galaxy of the Commonwealth, so far explicated in six huge novels and some smaller works.  In fact, I’m currently re-reading the Void Trilogy – with a caveat.  This is another of those works in which two books are smushed into one.  The world of the Dreaming Void is primitive.  It’s a nice action-adventure story, but nothing special.  The somewhat larger story is set in the Commonwealth, over a 1500 year time period that starts in this century.  I’ve pretty much skipped the primitive storyline on re-reads, but remain endlessly fascinated with the high-tech space opera and the culture in which it is set.  He’s got another trilogy set in this milieu coming up, and I’m awaiting it eagerly.  Not many current SF authors ring my bell any more.  I just don’t have much use for the lefty/progressive pap being produced by current practitioners of the art.

8.  Dr. Bob Forward’s Future Magic, which is one of the few dead tree books that survived my moving on to ebooks.  Forward was a working physicist, head of JPL, a solid writer, and a brilliantly imaginative hard science thinker.  For years I used FM almost as a recipe book for my own short stories.  I’d simply take one of his concepts and write a story around it.  I sold every damned one of them to Analog, too.  I’m particularly fond of his technical explanation for the existence of an immmortal soul, one that doesn’t involve religion at all.  I re-read this book every five years or so, too, and it’s about due to hit the top of the pile again.  Only problem is through some sort of future magic, the text in the dead tree version keeps getting smaller and smaller.  Gremlins, I say.  I’ve heard that his other “magic” book, Indistinguishable From Magic, is equally good, but I haven’t read it.  No ebook version, of course, but I might spring for it anyway one of these days.

Anyway, that’s enough to get started with.  If anything else springs to mind, I’ll tack on an update.  How about you?  What are your re-reads?

And Billy, thanks bunches for that Burke suggestion.  I just bought and downloaded it.

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Bill Quick

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.


Books You Should Re-Read? — 3 Comments

  1. I’m just about due for another reading of W. Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge. It pulls me back about every 5 years.

    Funny, what you wrote about those 3 Heinlein books might well have been taken straight from the void between my ears.