1. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
There are not very many books that I would care to read again, not because I didn't really enjoy reading them, I just want to go on to something new. Poisonwood Bible is a book I look forward to rereading. I thought the use of symbolism was intrigueing and interesting on multiple layers. I especially liked how the family members burden themselves with items they thought would be indispensable to them in Africa and instead they turned out to be useless. So easy to personally identify as I as well hoard to myself useful treasures that only get in my way of real meaning in my life.
I think one reason I want to reread this book is to rediscover and reinterpret the symbolism to my life at a different time. I really appreciated Kingsolver's perspectives of the symbolism. I realized after visiting several web sites, that my interpretations were pretty shallow. See http://www.kingsolver.com/bookshelf/poisonwood_bible.asp
I was amazed at how Kingsolver used the different voices of the main women characters. It's hard to believe that one author can so convince the reader that a different person is narrating that part of the story. I have read several books that present the storyline from different perspectives. I like that. It reminds me that each persons reality is only from their point of view and that it is different for each person involved. The individual voices are felt as truly individual in Poisonwood. Not so in others who have tried this technique.
2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I read Jane Eyre while in college. Absolutely loved it. My favorite scene was after Jane and Rochester's wedding is interrupted with horrible news and Rochester begs Jane to stay with him in spite of everything. In my heart I was urging Jane to abandon her principles and relinquish her heart, soul and body to this man who loved her so dearly and whom she loved in return. She says, "... my very conscience and reason turned traitors against me, and charged me with crime in resisting him. They spoke almost as loud as feeling, and that clamored wildly. 'Oh, comply!' it said..." The lead up to this moment was several pages long and the reader was very much in compliance with Jane's feelings. But with all the strength she could muster, Jane determined, "I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad--as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptations; they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigor. ... If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth? ...Preconceived opinions, forgone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by; there I plant my foot."
Orson Scott Card said that "it is often easier to learn from fiction than from life". The lesson I learned from this work of fiction has served me well many times in my life.
3. Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland. A fascinating, innovative and beautifully written book. Again, a lot of symbolism--most of which was lost on me, I'm sure. Thus, the need to reread it. The story is told in reverse chronology, starting with the owner of a painting that he believes to be an unknown Vermeer. He is torn between revealing its existence to the world or keeping it secret which will protect his other secret. The novel works its way back through vignette's in the lifes of other owners and eventually to Vermeer's life.
I liked Hyacinth Blue so much better than Girl with a Pearl Earing that was also about a Vermeer painting and received much more acclaim.