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Ask HN: Which book have you re-read the most times? how many times?
48 points by arikr 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 58 comments
Question copied from Eric Jorgenson, who posted the same question on twitter: https://twitter.com/EricJorgenson/status/1016003656787857409

My current goal is to read different copies of the Bhagavad Gita. I'm on the third translation. Probably not very impressive! but a great goal for me personally.

Edit: downvotes? :(

Updated with more detail: Question copied from Eric Jorgenson, who posted the same question on twitter: https://twitter.com/EricJorgenson/status/1016003656787857409

(have an upvote)

IF I were that interested in a book,(THEN) I'd just learn the language of the original (Sanskrit for the BG) and read the original. Most translations miss many nuances.

Hey, that's a great idea! I think I'll take that on. Learning Sanskrit would be great, and reading the original BG would be so much better, you're right.

Just a heads up. Unless you have a flair for languages, you are in for a lot of pain. It will be exacerbated if you are a native English speaker with no knowledge of other Indo European languages like French or German because Sanskrit has ridiculous amounts declensions. (English, thankfully, lost those; it would have been much worse had they survived.) To add to this, the script is quite complex, more complex than Arabic but far less than Japanese (not sure how people manage to use such a complex system), but this can be somewhat ameliorated by using a transliterated text, like the ones Indologists use.

Thanks for the warning! Luckily I've already studied languages with (some) declensions like Old English, Old Norse and Icelandic, and to a lesser extent Russian and Bosnian. I used to be ravenous to learn new languages but after college and children my attention/interest/time shifted, but I think I can make time for some Sanskrit :)

Well, in that case, the road won't be as bumpy. You might actually survive and reach the other end. :)

Which ones have you read? I liked Eknath Easwaran's translation.

I've read the translation by Purohit and by Prabhavananda, and moving on to Easwaran's next.

The Tawny Man Trilogy by Robin Hobb, which I've re-read almost yearly for over a decade. It builds on top of The Farseer Trilogy, but (while it's good) I haven't re-read that trilogy nearly as many times.

From a story standpoint, it's your typical fantasy fiction stuff and not all that unique. But her writing style fascinates me: she leverages stream of consciousness[1] as a primary literary device, and perception and perspective are major components of her plots.

Her books triggered a subtle yet lasting shift in the way I think and communicate, which has directly and positively impacted countless aspects of my life. It caused me to take my introspective nature and apply the same mental framework to other people's thought processes, drastically ratcheting up my ability to be empathetic, spot and resolve assumptions & points of miscommunication between people, and fluidly transition between completely disparate communication styles to address widely different perspectives/concerns on things.

All because she used perspective, perception in a way that has forever-since caused me to be cognizant of and suspicious of implicit assumptions and ambiguity everywhere.

[1] http://literary-devices.com/content/stream-consciousness

Typically religious book. I am reading "Pray, Hope, Don't Worry" for the 3rd time. It's a compilation of stories of people who've met and interacted with St. Padre Pio -- one of the only few saints who bore the wound of Christ, stigmata. As I tend too focused on work, this book is a great reminder that there are much more about live than just work, work, and work...

I've read the classics, Dune (+sequels), Lord of the Rings, and the Amber books by Zelazny at least 20 times each over the past twenty years.

Other favourites include the Vlad Taltos novels by Brust which I've read at least ten times each (still thinking "WTF?" over Vallista though!) and Les Liaisons dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos.

My tastes tend towards SciFi & Fantasy, but I have no shame about my love of romance either.

(The last set of books I read were the complete Bond novels by Ian Fleming. I don't think I'd read them again, very dated, very different to the films, and not that great.)

I've read most of Terry Pratchett's books a few times each, some more than others, along with other "comedy" writers such as Jasper Fforde, and Tom Holt (his "Portable Door" series is my favourite.)

"Goodnight Moon", maybe a hundred times

"Go Dog, Go!", maybe a hundred times

"HOP ON POP", maybe a hundred times

I remember reading "Go Dog Go" to my son, many years ago. I was getting ready to turn the page, and he started reading it before I turned it. Yes he had memorized the book.

As it turns out, this was normal for kids to do, but it also ment I needed to get some new books.

What I should have done was point to each word as he said it to emphasis the the coorlation.

It's amazing to repeatedly read books to children - and see how quickly they pick up the rhythm, words and story.

I've re-read The Belgariad series, by David Eddings, so many times I've lost count. Easily once a year, every year, since I was in my mid-teens (I'm in my late thirties). It is most firmly in the territory of "comfort reading" for me these days.

Dune, by Frank Herbert, comes a close second. I've read that at least a dozen times or more. It took me ages to get it. My dad had a copy, and I'd tried to read it probably 4 or 5 times, never getting far. Then I watched the David Lynch movie, went back to it and just devoured the book in a couple of days. Even though the two are wildly different, something about the movie gave me that kick I needed to get me in to the book.

I'm really not one for re-reading books all that much. Most books I read once. The ones I do re-read, I've read maybe 2 or 3 times.

The book I have re-read the most is The Hobbit. It is comfort food to me. I have had to purchase a new copy because my old one is becoming fragile, and it has a lot of personal meaning to me. That old copy was given to me as a child by my grandfather. He was given that copy by C.S. Lewis while he and my grandmother were staying with him at the Kilns. I can only imagine one place where C.S. Lewis would have obtained a copy of The Hobbit.

There are usually two different reasons why one might re-read a book. Sometimes it is to see the book again through older eyes which have seen and known more. Other times it is to try to re-capture the emotional experience of living in that story. I find that I tend to come back to certain books much more often for the second reason than for the first one. I might feel the desire to re-read Quantum Computing without Magic or Theory of Internal Combustion Engines once a decade at most. But when I'm feeling that the world is a confusing place and I need some simplicity in my life, I'm ready to take a journey to the Lonely Mountain.

I've read Dune at least 8 times, maybe 10. I could go on and on about how much I love this book.

I've read the Lord of the Rings 3 - 4 times, which I feel is a lot for a pretty thick series.

Lord of the Flies: 3 - 4 reads

1984: 3 - 4 reads

A Clockwork Orange: 3 reads

Brave New World: 4 reads

I really like dystopian fiction I guess.

Maybe you know it but I think you'd also like novels by J.G. Ballard. e.g. "Concrete Island" or "High Rise".

I'll check them out, thanks for the recommendation.

What do you do for a living?

Web development.

* The Richest Man in Babylon [0]

* The Greatest Salesman in the World [1]

* Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture [2]

* [0] https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1875763811

* [1] https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1875765552

* [2] https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1875771565

"The Count of Monte Cristo" "The Man of Bronze"

What's interesting -- to me, anyway -- are the responses that are (a) books you might not be able to pay me to read or (b) books I enjoyed, but have never considered rereading.

I made it a couple of chapters into "The Lord of the Rings," tossed the book across the room, where it fell down behind some furniture and sat for years. I have never thought about reading it again.

I might need to go back and read both "Dune" and the Amber series. I enjoyed them; but, I've never thought about rereading them at all.

I've read Caesar's Gallic War (Commentarii de Bello Gallico) and Civil War (Commentarii de Bello Civili) probably ~300 times but I don't have an exact count. They're relatively short texts.

I've re-read them non-stop for ~20 years any time I don't have something else I'm excited to read. I discovered them as a teenager but still find them fascinating. I find new things to think about every time I read them.

I don't re-read. But the other posts in this thread conjure up many, many good memories of awesome books. I always feel there is another classic just on the horizon. So why re-read if you can expand. Time with 3 kids and work is limited. However, the depth of the understanding and impact books I love have made on others, they do tickle me to re-read..!

I've read HHGTTG over and over. But I'm guessing anyone who has read it once has always wanted to do that.

Hobbit/Lord of the Rings x10 at least

Travels - Michael Crichton x10 at least

Fear - Thich Nhat Hanh x10 at least

Tunnels and Trolls Rulebook x100

An Oracle Server v7 book I got on my graduate training course before everything was online and an O'Reilly Unix Handbook

Code Complete and the Mythical Man Month

Godel Escher and Bach - tried to get through it in one several times

Lord of the rings at least twice a year from when I was about fifteen for the next ten years and about once a year since then.

The balgariard a good number of times.

Magician often enough that the book is now just a pile of pages.

More recently I’ve been working through cheap books on kindle.

I've read Neuromancer and Snow Crash about once a year for nearly 20 years.

Michael Marshall Smith's early sci-fi books, Only Forward and Spares, have also had many re-reads.

I read the 4 hour work week and then listened to it on audio afterwards.

I think the ideas are still very applicable, but some of the specifics might have changed.

The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa.

On the Road by Kerouac.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

I read Pessoa to feel not so alone. I read Kerouac to feel alive. I read Meditations to not lose my head.

I keep coming back to "To Kill A Mockingbird" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". I'd say these are my two favourite books!

Earth by David Brin, I think four times? It’s a really good pre-Internet look at a near future.

Cryptonomicon a couple of times, and I’m planning on Anathem again.

Cryptonomicon. Couldn’t even say, more than 10 times.

I must've read "The Tale of The Unknown Island" at least 30-40 times. A 30 minutes read that you take for your whole life.

Don Quixote by Cervantes and the Tao Te ching. Former for its buffoonery and commentary on human nature and the later for its wisdom.

For me it's probably A Wizard of Earthsea, delightfully short at about 160 pages. I'd say...8 times.

That's a reminder I've not read that for a couple of years. I should have included it on my list - that and The Tombs.

Also Ursula le Guin: I tend to re-read The Left Hand of Darkness every couple years (always in winter).

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance 1

HHGTTG 42 times

Slow clap.

Dune, 3 or 4 times. Amber series by Zelazny, couple of times. Lots of Light by Zelazny, 4 times.

I have read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, maybe 7 or 8 times. I have lost count.

The bible and a book about C++.

"Engine Summer", by John Crowley, about 15 times so far.

I never read a book more than once... Am I the only one?

No. Too many books, not enough time.

I've read CJ Cherryh's Cyteen maybe 20 times.

Can you tell me why you like it? I've been thinking about picking up any random Cherryh book for a while now but I haven't pulled the trigger.

malazan book of the fallen or game of thrones (reread each season to remember what happened).

"Sapiens", three times.

The Cuckoo's Egg - 3 times

On Intelligence - four times.

But did you read in on a Palm Pilot?

man perldsc


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