Monday, August 15, 2011
5 Best Rereads
5 Best Books is the weekly meme hosted by Cassandra at INDIEREADERHOUSTON. Each week, it's the best five books on any given topic. This week it's Best 5 Rereads.
I reread books all the time so this is going to be an especially hard category to narrow down to five. I mean, I wouldn't reread a book if I didn't love it to begin with. Know what I mean? For me, a reread is like visiting an old friend. There's just something comforting about the whole idea.
The five books I reread most often:
1) THE BEEKEEPER'S APPRENTICE by Laurie R. King
The first book in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series is more a book of short connected stories or incidents that establish the meeting and then the growing relationship between Russell and Holmes.
She is a fifteen year old prodigy, as brilliant in her own way as Holmes. He is in early retirement - living in Sussex -though he still does take the occasional case. About a third of the way into the book, when both are threatened by a deadly enemy (for me the most suspenseful and enthralling chapters) with a surprising connection to Holmes' past, then the book coalesces into a novel once again.
Somehow King makes it all work.
2) O JERUSALEM by Laurie R. King
I've forgotten how many times I've read this. I even own the audio and occasionally listen to it as well. This is the book that explains the side trip that Holmes and Russell must take - on the run from a ruthless enemy - near the end of THE BEEKEEPER'S APPRENTICE - a trip whose details are not explained in the first book. However O JERUSALEM is not the second book in the series. It was published later, after A MONSTROUS REGIMENT OF WOMEN, A LETTER OF MARY and THE MOOR. But the story harkens back to the beginning though it works entirely on its own.
I think of this as almost a stand alone novel - Holmes and Russell go to Jerusalem in 1918, to evade an enemy, but also to run an espionage errand at the behest of Sherlock Holmes' secretive older brother Mycroft who works for the British government. While in Palestine (before the Brits left and the country became Israel) they meet up with their contacts, two 'Arab' men with their own secrets - two of King's most memorable characters - who are at first suspicious then outraged when it is explained to them that Russell must pass as a boy, a deception punishable by immediate arrest or worse.
How this suspicion and mistrust is overcome and all four characters grow to depend on one another while while on the hunt for a clever spy master fomenting trouble with the Jews and plotting a major assassination, is a brilliantly told story. You can feel Russell's awe when they enter Jerusalem (she is Jewish), feel the oppressive tension, the inherent troubles of the British occupation of Palestine. King captures the desert setting of the ancient city, you can practically feel the sand between your toes and the dust in your lungs. Of all the books in the series, this one reads the most like an action adventure than anything else.
I love this book.
3) CAT AMONG THE PIGEONS by Agatha Christie
There are three or four Christies I reread all the time - this is one of them. What makes this book intriguing is the fact that Hercule Poirot does not enter the story until the last third of the book. He is summoned then by a young school girl who has discovered a treasure hidden at the exclusive Meadowbank private school she attends - a treasure which had led to several murders. A most intriguing book with a wonderful setting: an upper class English school peopled with some of Christie's most unforgettable characters.
It also has one of Christie's more satisfying endings.
4) THE DOORBELL RANG by Rex Stout
I reread almost all the Wolfe books every now and then, but this is the one, I think, I reread most.
This is the book in which Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin do the unthinkable, they take on the FBI. Then they do the unbelievable, they win. (This is also the book which probably led to the FBI keeping a file on its outspoken author, Rex Stout.)
When a wealthy woman who is being harrassed by the FBI hires Wolfe and Archie to stop the harrassment, he demurs. But when she tells him money is no object, he weakens. A retainer of $100,000 and the promise of more is too much for Wolfe to resist. Despite Archie's protestations, he takes the case.
How the two with help from the gang: Saul, Fred and Orrie and Inspector Cramer, manage the seemingly impossible, is a joy to read. This story just never gets old.
5) CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK by Elizabeth Peters
The first in the Amelia Peabody series and one of several Amelia books I reread occasionally. When a Victorian spinster of definite opinions travels to Egypt looking for adventure, she shouldn't be too surprised when she finds it in the ominous shape of a mummy run amok.
Just a great first book in one of my very favorite series written as a kind of Victorian melodrama in the style of H. Rider Haggard. You will grow to love Amelia and her 'take-charge' attitude. What doesn't she set to rights?
The book is a lot of fun besides, especially when Amelia meets the irascible and slightly demented archeologist Radcliffe Emerson - the man destined to be her husband.
Labels: Five Best Books, Review, Vintage
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I love Crocodile on the Sandbank as well -- Amelia Peabody is one of my favorite characters and she is a HOOT!ReplyDelete
Love this books..ReplyDelete
I agree with Joanne Amelia is a HOOT!!!! Judy
It's hard to pick just five favorite books (other than the two I've written -- ha! :-)), but off the tops of my head, try these for size:ReplyDelete
1.) THE MALTESE FALCON, and almost everything other book Dashiell Hammett has written.
2.) THE LEAGUE OF FRIGHTENED MEN, and just about every Nero Wolfe/Rex Stout novel.
3.) THE SCARRED MAN by Andrew Klavan, writing as Keith Peterson
4.) THE FALLEN SPARROW by Dorothy B. Hughes, among her other suspense novels.
5.) THE HOT ROCK, and most of Donald E. Westlake's novels, both humorous and grim-and-gritty. :-)
I'd also like to put in a good word or two about the witty YA mystery books of Ellen Raskin and Donald J. Sobol. For me, they were "gateway drugs" that led me to the adult comedy-thrillers! :-)
Joanne: I agree with you and Judy. She is a total hoot! I love the series. More especially the early books when Ramses was younger.ReplyDelete
But I reread the first book all the time. It's a great read when you're feeling out of sorts.
Judy: We are in complete agreement. :) If you haven't read this, you're missing out.ReplyDelete
Dorian: Coincidence! I've just finished rereading THE LEAGUE OF FRIGHTENED MEN. :)ReplyDelete
I like your list. Thanks for dropping by and posting it. I'm not familiar with some of your titles, but that just means I need to add them to my TBR list.
Why don't you join our 5 Best Books Meme? You can post the list anytime in the given week. I just happen to like doing it on Mondays.
The Beekeeper's Apprentice is a good one! And on a different day I probably would have added an Agatha Christie (And Then There Were None) or Josephine Tey (The Daughter of Time).ReplyDelete
But here's my list for today: http://myreadersblock.blogspot.com/2011/08/five-best-books-rereads.html
Bev: My lists are always fluid too. These are the five that I've read many MANY times, but I'm just as likely to pick another Christie, i.e. THE MAN IN THE BROWN SUIT or THEY CAME TO BAGHDAD or THE ABC MURDERS, etc.ReplyDelete
As for Nero Wolfe, I reread about twenty of them. Though I think this is the one I've read most.
MURDER BY THE BOOK and PLOT IT YOURSELF are the other two I reread just as much.
Oh, and I wanted to thank you for posting about the DVD Blogathon. My husband is a big DVD fan-boy. I've offered to allow him to hi-jack my blog for a DVD post if he wants to participate. He's got a DVD website and everything (http://community-2.webtv.net/BRAD47426/ThePetriePage/). I think it's pretty good considering how limited WebTv was (do you remember that browser that allowed you to surf the internet through your TV?) I've tried to convince him to switch to a more versatile platform...but he's nervous about losing stuff.ReplyDelete
Bev: You're welcome. He should definitely join in the Blogathon.ReplyDelete
Ivan is lining up everyone. I've already picked my two episodes to talk about.
Yvette: I loved The Beekeeper's Apprentice. I am not as excited about some of the other books in the series.ReplyDelete
I wish she would return to her earlier series in San Francisco featuring Kate Martinelli.
Bill: We must agree to disagree. :) I am still a huge fan of the Russell/Holmes series. Not all the books have been great, but this is a series that I read no matter what. Though I admit my favorites are still the earlier books.ReplyDelete
I'm so happy to have discovered your blog... it will keep my in books for a while.ReplyDelete
I agree about Amelia Peabody, but I would also have to add Dorothy Sayer's Gaudy Night among books I need to reread every so often.
I liked The Beekeeper's Apprentice and The Doorbell Rang. Those are the two I've read on this list.ReplyDelete
I am reading now two books on Archie and the gang, but have been busy with other pursuits, so reading (sigh) has taken a hiatus. Would rather be reading.
I put the two Stout that you cite on my TBR list, but the darn thing grows like bean sprouts (fast) and gets out of my control, and I still have to add books from this site from two prior lists.
It is a job to manage these TBR lists, never mind reading!
curryseven: Well, thanks so much for dropping by. Glad you found me. :)ReplyDelete
I recently reread the collected Wimsey short stories by Sayers so I agree with your added choice. It's so hard to keep it to just five.
Kathy: Slowly but surely we'll get there. I'm having a great deal of trouble managing my TBR list and pile. That's why I took a hiatus from the library. :)ReplyDelete
THE BEEKEEPER'S APPRENTICE, a lovely book, and I am not surprised at all to see this on your fav re read list.ReplyDelete
I slightly alter re reads, to comfort reads. I may not re read the whole book completly, just enough. ALICE IN WONDERLAND, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING. I think the `why` is obvious for the first two. But the third one? No idea.
Davo: Who knows why certain books give us comfort? It's often a mystery even to me. I think it's because there's just something to be found in their pages that speaks directly to us and maybe, to our needs.ReplyDelete
Thanks for dropping by. :)
I would like some signs to hang on my door and on my email that say:ReplyDelete
"Gone reading" (as in "Gone fishing")
"Do not Disturb. I'm reading."
The books are piling up because people are asking me to do things or else I get too involved with the NY Times, MSNBC or news websites, or phone calls!