To deal with the ‘why’ first, some rules are needed. (I’m good at self-imposed rules.) Rereading from desperation because there’s nothing new to hand doesn’t count, except when it does.** Comfort or nostalgia are insufficient motives – for example, I will never read ‘The Lord of the Rings’ again, because though it may have been a comfort blanket in the past I now recognise that, basically, it’s crap. And some books are just plain worn out. I’ll never read ‘Catch-22’ again. And big fat multi-volume sagas are not allowed, just because I say so. So no ‘Dance to the Music of Time’, or Patrick O’Brian, or Harry Potter (hah, gotcha!).
No, the ‘why’ has to be caught in that one ineluctable word: quality.
So here we go.
· ‘The Outsider’, by Albert Camus.
· ‘The Great Gatsby’, by F Scott Fitzgerald.
· ‘The Tin Roof Blowdown’, by James Lee Burke.
· ‘The Third Policeman’, by Flann O’Brien.
· ‘Vilette’, by Charlotte Brontë.
· ‘The High Window’, by Raymond Chandler.
· ‘Good as Gold’, by Joseph Heller.
· ‘The Code of the Woosters’, by P. G. Wodehouse.
· ‘?’, by ?
· ‘?’, by ?
Perceptive as you are, you’ll have noticed two things (apart from how boring and narrowly read I am – some of those Observateurs were doing Aristotle and Thomas Mann and stuff like that): they’re not ordered; and there are two empty slots. Those are for you to fill, with a book that you reread but I’ve probably read once at most. You’ll have to apply some guesswork there, of course. And obviously I can’t rank them until I have all ten.
* It’s on the list, but I’m not telling.
** That’s a snitch from another one on the list, by the way.