FoJG T. Greer has a great post at the Scholar’s Stage on the works on his re-read shelves. You’ll want to check it out, especially his LDS material. He has several conference talks listed that I’m glad he brought to my attention.
Greer suggests that there are three kinds of books on the re-read shelves.
those read again for the sake of “intellectual learning,” as you say it, or perhaps poetically, the books that enlighten;
books reread for purely for amusement or escape, the books that entertain;
and last of all, books that gives us snap shots of the beautiful or sublime, that increase our capacity to feel sorrow for the sorrowful or inspire us to the greater deeds of greater men – or in short, the books that edify.
I think he’s right. The object of this exercise is to share with our friends here or over at Greer’s place the books you re-read,the movies you rewatch, etc., that enlighten or edify.
Only include the books that you actually re-read. I’d like to list a number of Shakespeare plays, but the truth is most all of them I’ve read only once, and some of them not at all. Same with Moby Dick, Democracy in America, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and some of Conrad’s works, or George Herbert’s poetry.
And please do make a point to include religious material (excepting the scriptures, unless there is some lesser known passage or section that you keep coming back too).
Also, feel free to comment and critique on other’s lists, starting with mine.
Here is mine:
Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, by Austen.
The Aubrey-Maturin books, Golden Ocean, and Richard Temple, by O’Brian. They skew a little bit more in the entertainment direction, but I find myself suppressing the urge to write essays about the truth of the human condition while I’m reading them, so they count. Reading the Golden Ocean was literally a revelatory experience for me.
The Lord of the Rings – besides the beauty, there is considerable intellectual depth there that I am now discovering. Maybe also the Hobbit. I’m not sure,but I do reread it.
The First Circle, by Solzhenitsyn. The Gulag Archipelago too, but especially the First Circle. I’m starting the Red Wheel now. I think it will probably go on the list.
The Last of All Suns and City Beyond Time, by John C. Wright.
The Face of Battle, by Keegan
For Cause and Comrades, McPherson
The classic Civil War epics. Take your pick: McPherson, Foote, Catton
Of Plagues and Peoples
War before Civilization
C.S. Lewis tout court. Yes, including the kid’s stuff. But especially the Great Divorce, Perelandra, and Till We Have Faces. A Grief Observed should be on here, but it’s too hard to reread.
Reflections on the Revolution in France
Miracle of Forgiveness
Tuchman’s the Distant Mirror, the Churchill bio the Last Lion, and Reilly’s the Perfection of the West may belong. Certainly I re-read them.
Knight and Wizard, by Gene Wolfe
Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream
Chandler’s Marlowe books
Herodotus’ Histories. These are good for browsing.
Orwell, Homage to Catalonia
The Wind in the Willows
Adventures of Robin Hood (the Green version)
A Canticle for Liebowitz
Revelation, Flannery O’Connor
Maybe Laura Ingall’s books and James Herriot’s—I’m not sure. Certainly I reread them.
Essays and Speeches and Short Stories
Lincoln’s Second Inaugural
Lincoln’s House Divided Speech
Washington’s Farewell Address
The Gettysburg Address
The Neil Maxwell Quote Book – you don’t re-read it cover to cover, but it’s a book for taking down off the shelf, flipping it open, and thinking for a while
Spengler’s Future, by John C. Reilly
The Devil and Daniel Webster
Speaking of Webster, his Union speech on the Compromise of 1850, and his Second Reply to Hayne.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
“Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death”
Chief Joseph’s Capitulation
Elder McConkie’s farewell sermon
Cicero’s Catiline Speech (the first one)
Master and Commander
Branagh’s Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing
It’s a Wonderful Life
Pride and Prejudice, the six-hour BBC marathon
Emma, the one with Paltrow
Brideshead Revisited, the Irons one.
Unusually, these versions of Emma and Brideshead Revisited are better than the books they come from, in my opinion.
Joseph Smith’s Last Dream, though possibly apocryphal
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Benet’s American Names
Lewis’ Cliché Came Out of Its Cage
Arnold’s the Sea of Faith
The Gods of the Copybook Headings
Where are the Snows of Yesteryear
The temple endowment
What are yours?