There’s always that one book that you wish you could read again for the first time. You remember how it made you feel, the courageous characters, or the mysterious plot that kept you on the edge of your seat. Whatever the reason, we kept coming back to books. Books allow us to escape from our realities, teach us life-long lessons and keep our imaginations flowing. There’s nothing more rewarding than finishing a book you love, but we’re left with the reality that it’s over. At Bookstr, we’ve decided to look at what books we wish we could read for the first time again.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Jessica Heck, Editorial
I never knew how universal the pain of losing someone was until I read this book. I have been a fan of Joan Didion for years but was always afraid to touch this book, knowing I’d have to face the harsh truth that comes with loving someone. Didion often lifts you off your feet with her magnetic prose. In this personal memoir, while painfully grieving for her husband, fellow writer John Gregory Dunne, Didion lifts you in a way that reminds us how temporary life is. She reveals all the brutal and ugly versions of ourselves that come with losing someone. This book has touched every cornerstone in my heart imaginable. My family and I have experienced so much loss in our lives that it’s hard to imagine that a single person could spill out my heart in 240 pages. But Didion knows. I wish I could read this book for the first time again to feel the initial comfort it brought me. While reading this memoir, I learned that grief is always messy and peace only comes in waves. And loving someone is worth all the pain that comes with losing them.
The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
Lindsey Dolan, Editorial
It introduced me to her really interesting writing style that blends fiction and autobiography with “essays and meditations” — Nunez will spend pages discussing a movie she has seen, an article she’s read, or some historical event she learned about. The story, which I expected to be a fairly straightforward tale about a woman who takes care of the dog of her dead friend, ended up being one of my favorite reading experiences because of her unique writing style.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Raine Harris, Graphics
When I read this book for the first time, I had just graduated college and struggling with the anxiety and uncertainty of what came next. The Bell Jar perfectly captures the universality of feeling unsure of oneself through the refreshingly honest and reliable narrator, Esther Greenwood. While I do not relate to all of Esther’s mental health issues, I think this book gives great insight into the realities of depression while also touching on important topics such as gender roles, gender politics, and sexuality. This book is an amazing coming-of-age story, and despite its darkness, it helped me feel less alone.
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Lexi Dockery, Editorial
Like many teens, I was obsessed with The Hunger Games series in high school. But the book that stood out the most in the trilogy was Catching Fire. SPOILER ALERT I will never forget how I felt when Katniss figured out that the island was set up like a clock. It’s like everything clicked into place! For weeks, I would discuss this detail with anyone willing to listen to me because my mind was absolutely blown. Up until reading this book, I don’t think I had ever experienced such a huge plot twist, and I believe nothing has surprised me like that since.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Sophie Bair, Editorial
Still, I have never read a book like it to this day. The way it was written, the characters and the relationship were all portrayed in such a way that it is indescribable. I can never explain the book to someone in words. I tell them that they just have to read it themselves. The love story is so tragic, and I fully ugly-cried when it ended. The author wrote my favorite line of any book ever “I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way, his breaths came, and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.” Ugh. I love it so much; I’d kill to forget about it and read it all over again.
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Ro
Maria Oum, Editorial
Arundhati Roy’s debut novel is much like the author herself—impactful and unforgettable. I go to sleep happy, knowing that this book exists. Roy is a master of prose, and her descriptions of even the most minute of details are rich with vividness and body. Her storytelling slowly unravels in the way the heat of Kerala, India (the setting of the story) catches up to you—unassuming and all at once when it’s too late. It’s heartbreaking, and you will put the book down just to scream in your pillow. What I would give to encounter this treasure of a book for the first time again.
If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
Griffyn Tijamo, Graphics
There’s something about mysteries that always makes me want to read them over and over again to see what I missed along the way, and this book is no exception to that. It’s the characters, a group of young Shakespearean actors in their senior year at a small prestigious art college, that make me wish to approach this story again as a stranger. Understanding the parallels between the actors and the characters they’re casted as in plays upon my second and third readings, as well as seeing the flaws and motivations of the protagonist that affect his decision making, enhanced the story and is what I believe makes this book so beautifully written. The feeling of bittersweetness at the story’s tragedy I had when I first read the book is a feeling that I’ve looked for in other mystery books but haven’t been able to replicate, which is why to read this book for the first time again is a dream of mine.
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Gracie Lambright, Editorial
This was one of the first books I ever read on my own without my Mom reading to me. Inkheart is a story within a story. The main characters, Meggie and Mo, are father and daughter. All of a sudden, this guy who calls himself Dustfinger shows up on their doorstep asking for Mo’s help. Dustfinger claims to be running from someone named Capricorn (which aren’t we all running from a Capricorn?), so Mo takes Meggie to his sister-in-law, Elinor’s house. Their trip is shrouded in secrecy, and when they get to Elinor’s house, Mo disappears and comes back with a book and then promptly kidnapped by Capricorn’s men. So Elinor and Meggie, along with a reluctant Dustfinger, head off to Italy to find another copy of Mo’s book. And that’s just the first few chapters. As soon as I started reading, I became enraptured. Now I read it constantly, and the spine on my copy is done for. Sometimes, I’ll wait a few months in between reading it again, but nothing is quite like being able to experience the whole story again for the first time.
These are some of our favorite stories, and they might be yours too if you give them a chance. We take pride in being able to share with you the books that we love. We hope you take a moment to remember the book that inspired you or the one that you wish you could read for the first time again.
Looking for more book recommendations? Keep reading here!