The other night I finished reading one of my favourite books again.  ‘Stargazing’ by Peter Hill is, as the cover says, a book of memoirs of a young lighthouse keeper.  It’s a beautiful, lyrical book that is so evocative of time and place.  It’s set in the early seventies, when Peter was a student at art college in Dundee (the same one I went to, in fact).  He describes the cultural context of the times really well, with subtlety and insight but with a really light touch.  But his descriptions of his summer working on lighthouses around Scotland are where, in my view, he really shines.  My sister got me this book a few years ago, and I’ve read it several times since then.  I love lighthouses.

It’s funny how some books are so special you can return to them again and again.  I have several like that.  Some are ‘comfort’ reads, where familiarity is soothing and the words can almost wash over you.  Some are reminders of when you first read them.  Some are just so brilliant it would be a crime to only read them once.

So here’s my (in no order and possibly not exclusive) list of books I love to re-read:

  • ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte (what’s not to love about this story of a strong independent young woman fighting against the social mores of the time, and doing so with integrity and grace)
  • ‘Patient’ by Ben Watt (I was reading this book when my Grandad died 10 years ago.  It’s a fantastic book, with spare prose, and whenever I read it I spend as much time thinking about my wonderful Grandad as I do the book itself)
  • ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ by Mark Steele (the brilliant account of Mark Steele’s personal political journey)
  • the Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkein (love, love, love.  Although I’ve been known to skip the long passages of very esoteric poetry)
  • ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen (see ‘Jane Eyre’ – utterly different books and heroines but some similar underlying themes)
  • Alexander McCall Smith’s Scotland Street series, and also his Sunday Philosopher’s Club series
  • ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee (like ‘Jane Eyre’ this was a book I read at school but only really came to truly love it once I’d left all the analysis behind)

I bet that, as soon as I post this, I’m going to think of ten more books that I love to read and re-read. 

Which books do you return to time and time again, and why?