Hugh Hewitt started it when he said:
A modern novel worth reading twice is very hard to come by, at least for a reader like me, pressed for time and inclined to history and current events. I have been through Joseph Epstein’s two volumes of short stories twice –Golden Boys and Fabulous Small Jews– but that’s the limit on my short story rereading as well. (All of the collections of Epstein’s familiar essays are read and reread and reread by me and thousands of others.)
. . .
James Webb’s new book, Born Fighting, Elizabeth Kauffman Bush’s The First Frogman and The Lileks’ Interior Desecrations are my trio of recommendations from among the “just published,” but I hope to get some guidance from the blogosphere on modern novels worth reading twice that I haven’t yet even read once.
Well, I can enumerate several novels I’ve read more than once, but I’m not sure how modern or applicable they are to what Hugh had in mind. Here are some:
- The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Three times? Four times? I forget. It’s back on my to-read shelf, though, since it’s been five years.
- Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Once or twice fewer than The Fountainhead, but still two or three times.
- Anthem by Ayn Rand. Twice, which is odd since it’s the shortest.
- The Spenser novels, including The Godwulf Manuscript, by Robert B. Parker. Many times each (except for the latest, of course).
- The Philip Marlowe novels, including The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler. At least twice, once in high school and once when I got the complete collection in 1997.
- The Travis McGee novels, including The Empty Copper Sea, by John D. MacDonald. Most, if not all, at least twice: once in high school, and once when I acquired them.
- The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything by John D. MacDonald. A cool fantasy that I own and read in paperback and that I own and read as part of a collection. Remember that this became a TV movie with Robert Hays? I remember it running several times in the 1980s, but I never saw it; just the promos for it.
- The Lew Archer novels, including The Zebra-Striped Hearse, by Ross MacDonald. Same as John D. MacDonald, I read these in high school and reread them as I acquired them.
- The 87th Precinct novels, including Kiss, by Ed McBain. I’ve read a number of these books twice and will continue to do so as I acquire them.
Wow, I guess that says a lot about what I like. Modern? Hmm, probably not, and certainly not high literary in the most self-important sense of the word.
Here’s what Powerline’s Deacon has read twice.