I think I might be a bit weird as far as the average voracious reader goes — I don’t re-read books.
The only book I could recall reading twice was a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine book, and I read it twice because I needed something to read during reading period at school and it was the only thing nearby. It was good, but once was enough.
Truth is, there are three books that I’m dying to read again… but I’m too scared to open the cover.
I think I’ve remembered these books as being ground-shaking and awe-inspiring, and they have a certain dazzle in my memories. If I pick up that book again and don’t enjoy it as much, that dazzle will be gone, and I’ll be immensely disappointed. I already ran into this with one of them. I remembered it opening with a certain couple of sentences that burrowed deep into my soul, grabbing me and not letting go. A while back, I flipped open the cover of that book to take a quick peek… and found that my memory had been faulty. The opening sentences were great, but not the immediately personal and intensely gripping ones that I remembered.
I would love to read Warchild and Cagebird again, both by Karin Lowachee. These were some of the most amazing books I’d ever read. Warchild and Cagebird (and the slightly less-stellar second book, Burndive) followed young men from childhood to adulthood. The leads of Warchild and Cagebird had been abducted as children and forced into vastly different lives. The storylines were intensely personal, gut-wrenchingly painful, and just a complete beauty on the page.
These two books have affected me so much that they have permanently altered how I write fiction, particularly when I pick away at my sci-fi pieces. I can’t go back and read them, I just can’t — I know I’ll find I’ve put them on a golden pedestal in my memory and the reality will be a fair bit disappointing. They will still be great pieces of fiction, but not the amazing works my mind has elevated them to.
The other book I’d love to re-read is Orphan’s Triumph by Robert Buettner. This is the fifth in a five book series and the final fifty pages or so were literally jaw-dropping. I remember leaning back in my chair reading, and then when the last fifty pages started, I had to suddenly lean forward, mouth agape, and shut out the entire world as I finished the book. The ending left me stunned. I walked around in a daze for the better part of a week and I couldn’t stop blathering on about it to everyone I met.
This, too, has permanently altered how I write. While I write gay romance presently, I am working on some science-fiction in the background. I had a whole series planned and the first book already written — but I had to trash it all. This book was so amazing that it inspired me to be so much better at what I write. I only hope I can achieve it. I’m planning and outlining the newly-reconstructed series and will start writing it after I’m done my masters degree (so, next year), as I want to devote most of my present writing time to gay romance.
These are my three most favourite books in the world — the best things I have ever read — yet I will never read them twice. For my personal enjoyment, they need to remain the stellar works of science-fiction that my memories have made them out to be.