Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I Wish I Could Read Again for the First Time


I’m going off script this week and borrowing an older topic for Top Ten Tuesday, because I am not organized enough as a reader to tackle this week’s topic: Top 10 Debut Authors Who Have Me Looking Forward to Their Sophomore Novel or Top 10 Sophomore Novels That I Loved Just as Much as the Author’s Debut. Debut novels versus sophomore novels? Who can keep track of that stuff? Besides, you know, the hundreds of book bloggers who are publishing posts right this moment. But that’s not me. So. I’m tackling 10 Books I Wish I Could Read Again for the First Time. These reading experiences were full and right and perfect. These books were all, in their different ways, revelations. They would have been good books for me whenever I read them, but there was real synergy in the moment when I discovered them and committed to the reading experience. Pure reading magic.

ten years in tub

I wish I could read Ten Years in the Tub, Nick Hornby’s omnibus collection of the bookish columns he wrote for McSweeney’s, for the first time, but alas, I’ve read the previously published individual collections a dozen times each.I have no idea why it’s so compelling to read about what books Hornby bought and what he read each month, but it is.

i want my hat back

I think my picture book reading innocence was forever lost, though in a good way, with Jon Klassen’s brilliant final spread of the bear in I Want My Hat Back. Wait, what?! What just happened?? You can do that in a children’s book?!

we are in a book

We Are in a Book was my very first introduction to two dear old friends, Elephant & Piggie.

i capture the castle

Dodie Smith’s novel about a precocious aspiring writer navigating adolescence, first love, ambition, sisterhood, and a seriously kooky family is one book I really wouldn’t mind moving into permanently, though I would want to be sure to take warm boots and a sweater to keep out the chill of that castle.

100 essays i don't have time to write

What I really want is another book just like Sarah Ruhl’s 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write, a wide-ranging collection about writing and theater and children and motherhood, but in the meantime, I’d take some magical reading time travel that allowed me to read it again for the first time.

code name

As much as I would love to reread Code Name Verity, my favorite read in 2013, the absolutely devastating–and, for me, totally unexpected–ending keeps me from it. Such an emotionally draining book–though in the best possible way.

prisoner of azkaban

I was a little late to Pottermania, so Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was the first book I was able to pre-order, highly anticipate along with millions of other readers, and stay up late to finish on the day of publication. It’s also my favorite of the series.

watership down

Watership Down is one of those personal watershed reading experiences. It was ninth grade, and I had many, many interests besides reading (boys, boys, boy bands, boys). I had given up the kinds of books I read as a tween but hadn’t yet begun to figure out who I would become as an adult reader. It was a dangerous time when I might have turned away from reading. But then my English teacher placed Watership Down on my desk and walked away. I read it twice straight through and then begged him for more book recommendations. Brilliant man!

changing my mind

A good essay collection permanently changes me as a reader and a person, which must be how three of them ended up on this list. I rarely reread essays, but maybe I should make an exception for Zadie Smith’s superb Changing My Mind.

daughter of smoke and bone

How I would love to discover again for the first time what Brimstone is doing with those teeth in Daughter of Smoke and Bone.





19 responses to “Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I Wish I Could Read Again for the First Time”

  1. carriegelson Avatar

    Love this list and that you changed the topic – I too got dizzy reading the TTT topic of the week. Then again, I am barely blogging (although I finally managed a picture book post) I think Code Name Verity would also be on my list and also Okay for Now which I have now read twice and it just keeps getting better.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Hats off to the book bloggers who can keep track of debut and sophomore writing efforts! I thought about just skipping, but I’ve skipped a couple of Tuesdays now when I wasn’t inspired by the topic, so I decided to take a cue from our friends at Unleashing Readers and just do my own! I know I will eventually reread Code Name Verity and expect to discover more in it on a second read. But that first exhilarating reading experience can’t be replicated. Will be glad for you to get back to blogging when you can–I miss you!

      1. Kellee from Unleashing Readers (@kelleemoye) Avatar

        I cannot keep track either!
        I love the change of topic 🙂 Way to go rogue with us! 🙂

  2. Allyson Avatar

    I like how you made this week your own! It was really hard to come up with a list this week. I agree with so many on your list, especially HP and I Capture the Castle!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Another fan of I Capture the Castle! So glad to see that! One of my all-time favorite books. I always love it when I have an excuse to stick it on a book list!

  3. Lauren @ Always Me Avatar

    Great topic and picks this week! You know, I would actually like to be a small kid and to have I Want My Hat Back read to me… 🙂

    Check out my TTT and the weekly meme I hosting on my blog Music Monday.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I agree about I Want My Hat Back! I got to hear Jon Klassen speak at NCTE last year, and the most fascinating part of the talk for me was when he described child reactions to his books. I actually think that adults and children have very different initial responses to his work, and to Mac Barnett’s work (no surprise those two are frequent collaborators).

  4. Sam Whitehouse Avatar
    Sam Whitehouse

    Prisoner of Azkaban is one of the best in the series. Watership Down is a good choice. For a book about rabbits, it’s epic.
    Top Ten Sophomore novels/series:

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Some of my college students have never read Harry Potter, and I find when they start the series, they’re often a little bogged down in Books 1 and 2 and not committed readers. I keep telling them, just keep reading to Book 3!

  5. Kellee from Unleashing Readers (@kelleemoye) Avatar

    Great list 🙂
    I always get jealous when I see readers reading one of my favorite books for the first time. I wish I could relive it!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks, Kellee! I know just what you mean! I love to reread (though I don’t allow myself that particular treat very often–too many new books to read for the first time!), but nothing can quite recapture the first experience with a treasured favorite.

  6. rudejasper Avatar

    Going off script is totally acceptable and this is a great list. I have some deep love for I Capture the Castle as well and it would be great to encounter again for the first time.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Writing about I Capture the Castle for this post has really made me want to reread it. I’ve been in a bit of a reading rut over the past month, and rereading might be the cure!

  7. Scott Day Avatar

    Prisoner of Azkaban was also my favorite in the Potter series. Regarding “pure reading magic” I would have to include Anne Ursu’s Breadcrumbs on my list. I’m in my sixties. But after reading Breadcrumbs I felt compelled to really explore magic realism and middle grade fiction. I’ve never regretted that decision.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I still haven’t read Anne Ursu! As I said above, I’ve been in a reading rut–what I really need is a sink-into-it-and-never-want-to-leave book, and it does seem like Ursu might be a good choice. My husband read The Real Boy a few weeks ago and adored it. He reads mostly middle-grade and YA, which I find very charming. I think some of the most consistently strong fiction is actually published for middle-grade readers. I periodically reread the HP series (or rather, listen to them on audio, because Jim Dale’s narration is brilliant), and I always start with Prisoner of Azkaban. Just so good! Thanks for commenting!

      1. Scott Day Avatar

        Regarding a “sink-into-it-and-never-want-to-leave book,” have you ever read Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus?

  8. Annette Pimentel Avatar

    You’re right. There’s something irretrievable about the first read of a book. I’d never thought about it in those terms before.

  9. Erica Avatar

    I did not know Jon Klassen had another Hat book! I read This Is Not My Hat last year for the first time, and thought it was so fabulously done…especially as an adult reader. It made me giggle and was the best! I will have to check out I Want My Hat Back!

    Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azakaban is also my favorite book of the series–I always thought that wait we had made the late night reading SO much better. Kids nowadays are lucky that they can move right into the next book and binge read it if they want, but I also can’t help but feel like a little of the magic is lost when that wait is taken away…what do you think?

  10. […] Top Ten list of Books I Wish I Could Read Again for the First […]

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