Revisiting Literary Nirvana: The Books We’d Sell Our Souls to Read for the First Time Again

The tantalizing allure of rediscovering literary treasures beckons as we yearn to trade our souls for the enchanting experience of reading these books anew.

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Ah, the bittersweet yearning to experience a book for the first time all over again. We’ve all encountered those stories that have woven themselves into the very fabric of our souls, leaving an indelible mark on our hearts and minds. Join us as we embark on a tantalizing journey through the realms of literature, revisiting those unforgettable tales that we’d gladly strike a deal with the devil to read anew.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

I’m sure it’s a shock to anyone who knows me that I’ve chosen a thriller for this rather than a romance or fantasy novel. But Setterfield’s novel absolutely captivated me. I would kill to be able to reread this with innocent, unknowing eyes. 

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield book cover, showing a pile of books in various colors.

The Thirteenth Tale is a story about a reclusive, prolific writer who has invited an introverted and trauma-ridden biographer to her private residence to finally discuss her life story. Filled with tragedy on both sides, the women confront the ghosts that haunt them as they recall the events and people who made them who they are.

  • Kristi Eskew, Editorial

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

This is one of my favorite mystery novels of all time! All of Turton’s books have amazing plot twists that I never see coming, but since The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is the first one I read, it holds a special place in my heart. I would love to read it again for the first time so that I could reexperience all of the incredible twists and turns without knowing what to expect. 

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton book cover. The cover is black with four diamonds at the end of every corner. Every diamond includes an image, including a gun, a bottle, a compass, and a chess piece.

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle follows protagonist Aiden Bishop as he finds himself in a race against time to solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. Trapped in the illustrious Blackheath Manor, Aiden wakes up each morning in the body of a different guest, each of whom provides him with new information to help him identify the killer. Filled with action and suspense, this locked-room mystery is a must-read for anyone who loves a good thriller! 

  • Lauren Nee, Editorial 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

I really thought long and hard about this question. I was tempted to say a more recent book such as one of my beloved romances, but if I really think hard about it, it would have to be a book from my childhood. I picked the first book in the Harry Potter series because I would love the taste of magic again for the first time. It was truly my first taste of obsession as well. I don’t know who I would be without this series. I couldn’t shake just how much I felt I belonged in this unique magical universe. 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling book cover. Image showing a boy smiling at the reader, with two children and a man next to him. The three other characters are all looking towards a mysterious castle in the distance.

This book and the series follow Harry and his close friendships as they struggle to defeat an evil bigger than themselves. Reading this series as a child emphasized the importance of friendships and standing up for what you believe in; both factors that I still hold close today.

  • Olivia Salamone, Editorial

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

This was really hard for me because I know this answer is probably such a cliche in the book world! But, I had to choose Outlander for a couple of reasons, the first being that I came across the show before ever reading the book! That in itself was so frustrating once I read the book and fell in love with it even more! The story of Outlander was the first of its kind and created this whole crazy book genre of Highlander romance novels and I completely understand why! 

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon book cover, the cover shows a golden trinket in the middle of a red cover. The trinket has a crown and a featherlike item sticking out of the crown.

The entire story is irresistible, from the journey that Claire goes on from WWII Scotland to the days of Culloden, the allure of Scottish culture and highland scenery, to well… Jamie Fraser. Even without everything else, the characterization of James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser as the Scottish ‘King of Men’ surpasses pretty much any other male protagonist for me. Of all the books I’ve read and movies I’ve watched, there are very few stories that have drawn me in as wholly as this one and I would literally sell my soul to discover it all again. 

  • Callie Elliston Smith, Editorial

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

I know, I know…too cheesy? I am the least romantic person you’ll ever meet, but this book was life-changing for teenage me. I could not get enough of the summer romance appeal! I was so obsessed with this series, that I still think of naming my firstborn after Belly. I was super excited about the new TV series coming out. I thought it would be like I was rereading the book for the first time. You can hate me for saying this, but the show flopped HARD. I was beyond disappointed that the plot kind of took its path down a different root. But I don’t think the show itself was bad, I think I was trying to relive my favorite teenage read. I would do crazy things to experience The Summer I Turned Pretty for the first time again.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han book cover

Isabel, also called Belly, spends every winter dreaming about her summers at Cousins Beach. Every summer, she and her family spend warm days at their family friends’ summer home. But this summer is different. The family house is owned by the Fishers, and this year, the two Fisher boys have their eyes on Belly. She is no longer a tween, but a beautiful teenage girl. And the brothers are not the only people who start to notice Belly. The summer has more than just romance to unfold. 

  • Erin Ewald, Editorial

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

There are so many books that I have read that I could easily add, (honorable mentions would be The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi and The Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix), but I will stick to one that I’ve thought about over and over and has shaped my worldview of how fun reading can be. The Phantom Tollbooth is a book full of imagination that takes you on a fantastical ride of lush scenery and vividly wild scenarios and leaves you breathless by the end of the book. The first time I read it, I was in fifth grade, and this book has stayed with me ever since. The whole point of the book is that the MC Milo finds himself in a world that doesn’t make sense. But to readers who enjoy a thoroughly fleshed-out fantasy world, it makes perfect sense.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster book cover, showing a boy looking at a dog with a clock on its side.

Milo is a ten-year-old kid who is bored with everything. He finds a tollbooth in his home, which already seems strange to him. But then he steps through it and finds a peculiar world on the other side that seems highly unlikely to exist. He’s joined by a dog named Tock, whose body is made from a stopwatch, and he goes on this journey of discovery. There are many different places he visits, such as Dictionopolis where everything is made up of words, and Mathmagician where everything is made up of numbers. Milo is thrown into a strange war, and through it all, he finds that life may not be so boring after all. It’s a fun book that can make reading a blast for anyone of any age!

  • Quiarah B/Vphan

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

You know any piece of writing, fiction or nonfiction, taking place during the Holocaust is bound to bring up some hard topics and I was most certainly crying during my first read-through of The Book Thief. These are tears I would gladly cry all over again, though, as it is one of my favorite reads of all time. 

Liesel Meminger, a young girl growing up in Nazi Germany, finds comfort in her friends, foster family, and books during hard times. When books become hard (an illegal) to come by, she secures them in any way that she can. 

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak book cover, showing a line of dominos stood up and a hand ready to push the end piece.

I read this book for the first time when I was nine years old, around the same age that Liesel was at the beginning of the novel. I think this is one of the reasons it hit me so hard. We were both just children who love books and I knew that though the story was a work of fiction, it tells the tale of many children who grew up in that time of destruction who would have been just like me. 

This story about a found family and a love of literature captures a piece of wholesomeness and community. I cannot emphasize enough how heartbreaking and captivating this book was and how much I would recommend it to anyone of any age who loves tales of people coming together and helping each other grow in times of struggle. 

  • Sarah Selan, Graphics 

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The Silent Patient is one of the most popular thrillers of the last 5 years. It is a psychological thriller that takes the reader on an incredible journey through the mind of a murderer and her therapist. I chose this book because it is one of the first books that I remember reading where I was truly floored by the plot twist. I had not seen the plot twist coming at all. I remember reading it at work and having no one to talk about it with. After reading this book, I searched for something that made me feel like The Silent Patient did. It threw me into the biggest reading slump of my life and, to this day, I don’t think I have found a book with a plot twist quite like it. I would sell ANYTHING to read this book again, including my soul. It gave me such a great feeling and I wish I could find a book like it. 

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides book cover, showing a person behind a clear cloth, and the cloth is ripped at the mouth area.

Alicia Berenson’s life was perfect. She was a very talented fine artist with a doting husband who loved her and gave her anything she wanted. But that all changed the day she shot him. Since the murder, Alicia has stopped speaking. She refuses to speak to anyone and has been put in a secure forensic unit in North London. Criminal psychotherapist Theo Faber makes it his mission to get Alicia to speak. He finds a job at the facility where Alicia is confined. He decides that he is the solution that she has been waiting for. This book will leave you jaw agape wishing you could erase your memory just to read the whole thing again. 

  • Corinne Vergari, Social

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Prepare for an emotional rollercoaster as you dive into ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ by John Green. This young adult fiction masterpiece follows the journey of a 16-year-old girl battling cancer who finds love and friendship in the unlikeliest of places – a support group. Witness the whirlwind of emotions as Hazel and Augustus navigate life, love, and loss.

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green book cover, showing two clouds in black and white with the title and author written in them.

This book holds a special place in my heart as the one that ignited my passion for literature. It opened the door to a world of stories, inspiring me to build my own library and dream of becoming an author. The impact of this novel is something I’d give anything to experience for the first time all over again.

  • Trish G, Editorial

As we bid adieu to this wistful exploration of literature, our hearts brim with nostalgia and longing for those stories we’d sell our souls to experience for the first time again. These tales, etched in our memories, continue to beckon us back to the realms they’ve crafted, reminding us of the unparalleled magic that lies within the pages of a truly extraordinary book.

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