Is there anything more comforting than re-reading books that you love? Like savouring the familiar flavours of your mum’s roast dinner, slipping your feet into battered trainers that have moulded perfectly to fit you, or flicking through old photos, re-reading is one of the best forms of nostalgia.

But rereading can also be a discovery. It’s treading a path you’ve walked a thousand times before, and finding something wonderfully new each time. You might find yourself empathising with a character you used to hate, or sobbing uncontrollably at a passage you used to breeze through. Rereading is a specific kind of pleasure we Queens love to indulge in again and again.

Here are our top ten books we love to reread. Which ones would make your list?

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Recommended by: Queen Olivia

The book in a nutshell

In The Help, Aibileen is a black housemaid; Skeeter is an affluent young white lady. While they both live in the same town in 1960s Mississippi, their worlds are completely different. As the Civil Rights movement begins to gather momentum, they come together to tell the stories of black maids, and their relationships with the white families they work for. The Help is hilarious and heartbreaking in equal measure.

When did you first read it?

Summer 2011 – it was one of the first books I picked up after three long years of studying English Language and Literature at University, and it was so liberating to be able to read something purely for pleasure, rather than studying and analysing every word.

Why do you love to reread it? What did you learn from it?

The reason I adored the story so much the first time was because I saw a lot of myself in Skeeter. An aspiring writer, straight out of college, feeling out of place in her hometown. She ends up writing a rubbishy housekeeping column for a local newspaper, and I felt her struggle as she tried so hard to forge her career as a journalist.

Although the story itself is fictional, it reveals a lot about race relations during that period in American history. It’s probably one of the first stories I read that made me acutely aware of my privilege as a white person. There’s one passage where Aibileen talks about how her great-grandmother was a slave, which really brings home how recent it is in the grand scheme of human history.

How many times have you reread it?

Maybe five or six times. I bought it on my kindle so I could read it wherever I go.

Favourite Quote

You is kind, you is smart, you is important.”

The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Recommended by: Queen Ruth

The book in a nutshell

The Time Traveller’s Wife is the love story between Henry DeTamble and his wife Clare Anne Abshire. Clare first meets Henry when she is six years old and he is a grown man. Throughout Clare’s childhood Henry time travels back to her intermittently until her 18th birthday. Then, they meet again when they are both adults. It’s a story focused on love, loss and missed opportunities.  

When did you first read it?

When I was 18 and I got my first home away from home. The themes rang so true as it felt like I had just lost a part of my childhood. I didn’t have a TV at the time, so all I could do was read. I fell in Love with The Time Traveller’s Wife as soon as I opened it.

Why do you love to reread it? What did you learn from it?

Henry and Clare are two of the most realised fictional characters I’ve ever come across; they’re troubled, imperfect and captivating. Every time I open the book it feels like seeing old friends again. I also imagine they’d both be great in bed. It taught me that although Clare is defined by her husband (and his actions) in many ways, she’s still an incredibly well-written female character; she simply makes decisions I wouldn’t make.

How many times have you reread it?

Three to four, although I’d read it every year if I could.

Favourite quote

“Time is priceless, but it’s Free. You can’t own it, you can use it. You can spend it. But you can’t keep it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.”

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

Recommended by: Queen Olivia


The book in a nutshell

A Song Of Ice And Fire is The Wars of the Roses, but with dragons.

When did you first read it?

I started reading A Game of Thrones in 2012, when I was living in Australia. It took me most of the year to read the whole series. I loved them so much that when I finished the last one I started straight back at the beginning again.

Why do you love to reread it? What did you learn from it?

There’s so much to the series that it’s effectively impossible to take in every plot twist, character development or bawdy joke. I love that every character is so complex, and that we see the story unfold from multiple perspectives. There is no clear line between “good” and “bad” as there so often is in fantasy, and alliances and friendships are forged and broken so that you’re never entirely sure who’s side you’re on, who to trust, or indeed whether to trust anyone.

ASOIAF also has some of the most fascinating female characters I’ve ever read. For example, Cersei is a power-hungry, manipulative bitch, but as the story progresses we find she’s been shaped that way by the fetters of patriarchal society. I love her ruthlessness almost as much as I hate her arrogance.

How many times have you reread it?

I’ve read them cover to cover five times, but I quite like flicking through individual characters’ stories from start to finish now that I know how it all pans out.

Favourite quote

“A woman’s life is nine parts mess to one part magic, you’ll learn that soon enough… and the parts that look like magic often turn out to be messiest of all”

How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

Recommended by: Queen Ruth

The book in a nutshell

How to be a Woman is Caitlin Moran’s non-fiction memoir and views on feminism in one handy volume. It’s her manifesto for being a modern woman and what feminism means today. The whole thing feels like a chat down the pub with your mad, feminist friend. Which is almost always me, so it was nice it was someone else.

When did you first read it?

When it came out in 2011. I was 22.

Why do you love to reread it? What did you learn from it?

I’ve learned so much from this book; it distills a lot of my own views on feminism. It taught me that being a strident feminist is a good thing, that you can get paid a lot of money to write about what you love (the book has sold over 1 million copies) and women are fucking hilarious. We rewatch films because they make us laugh, this book is the ultimate rib tickler for me.

How many times have you reread it?

I refer back to it anytime I need a come back for an argument I had two days before and couldn’t articulate my point. And whenever a bloke has pissed me off and I need some solidarity.

Favourite quote

“When a woman says, ‘I have nothing to wear!’, what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today.”

His Dark Material Trilogy by Philip Pullman

Recommended by: Queen Olivia

The book in a nutshell

His Dark Materials tells the story of Lyra – a scrappy little brat living in a College in Oxford. But it’s not Oxford as we know it. Lyra lives in a parallel universe where a person’s soul lives outside their body in animal form as a deamon. Together with her deamon Pantalaimon, Lyra sets out on a quest to rescue her friend and her Uncle, but which will ultimately lead her to save the universe from destruction.

When did you first read it?

I read The Northern Lights when I was 13-14.

Why do you love to reread it? What did you learn from it?

It was beyond refreshing to find a story of a girl who actually goes on an adventure. A story that wasn’t filled with teenage angst, boys, and obsessing over appearance (I’m looking at you Ellie Allard and Georgia Nicholson). It’s also an early nail in the coffin of belief for any adolescent with nagging questions about organised religion. Pullman’s story is rich in detail and utterly captivating.

How many times have you reread it?

Dozens. I wrote my dissertation on it at University so I got read it over and over in my final year of University. I juxtaposed Pullman’s story of The Fall with that of Milton’s Paradise Lost, which added so many new layers of meaning to His Dark Materials.

Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett

Recommended by: Queen Ruth


The book in a nutshell

Feminist Fight Club is a survival guide to a sexist workplace. Keep it on your desk at all times whenever a male colleague ‘manterrupts’ or ‘bropreiates’ you. It’s a lifetime membership to the greatest girl gang ever. It gives ready to use advice on getting a raise, dealing with subtle sexism and recognising your own strengths. You can read my other article, 5 books that will get you a promotion, where I talk about it in more detail.

When did you first read it?

2017! It’s a new, firm favourite that I keep going back to again and again.

Why do you love to reread it? What did you learn from it?

It helped me get a promotion; so the book delivers on its promise. It also taught me to identify any sexist behaviour in my own workplace as well as the importance of championing and helping female colleagues realise their dreams. Collaboration makes the world go round – and Feminist Fight Club is the tool kit to help you take over the male-dominated world.

How many times have you reread it?

I’ve read it twice so far and bought it for two other people.

Favourite quote

“Writing down your successes is another method—so you can look back on them every time you feel a hint of self-doubt coming”

1984 by George Orwell

Recommended by: Queen Olivia

The book in a nutshell

1984 is the ultimate Dystopian novel. War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. Winston lives in Eurasia, and works at the Ministry of Truth. It’s his job to alter “mistakes” in historical documents so that they add up with The Party’s given version of events. He meets Julia and they fall in love. He ends up in Room 101, with a ravenous rat in a cage chained to his face. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

When did you first read it?

In High School, maybe in College. I remember it having a profound effect on me mentally. It’s not a pleasant read, and it does bring you down for days and weeks afterwards. It’s bleak and harrowing, but it changed my outlook on the world around me forever.

Why do you love to reread it? What did you learn from it?

So many of Orwell’s predictions for the future were eerily accurate. But more than the constant monitoring, propaganda and never-ending wars, it’s the subtle and omnipresent ways The Party manipulates and infiltrates the minds of its subjects. Are Winston’s thoughts and opinions his own, or have they been planted there by Big Brother himself?

Reading 1984 will make you more aware of propaganda in all its forms. You’ll question the narrative of media, and the proliferance of advertising. Of course, in our world it’s only done to keep us safe and to try to convince us to buy things, isn’t it..?

How many times have you reread it?

I try to read it once a year, to make sure I never trust any news source too much.

Favourite Quote

“The best books… are those that tell you what you know already.”

Take me with you by Polly Clark

Recommended by: Queen Ruth


The book in a nutshell

Take Me With You is a poetry collection. Its visceral use of language, striking imagery and poignant subject matter make it a must-read for any poetry fan. It’s tender, smart and memorable.

When did you first read it?

Around 2005/6, I read it as part of my Creative Writing degree.

Why do you love to reread it? What did you learn from it?

Elvis the Performing Octopus is the reason why half of my arm is taken up with an octopus tattoo. The stories that pulse through the pages of this collection are so instantly familiar, it feels like Clark wrote the book about you. I love everything about it; from its title to its line endings to its cover. Take Me With You gets under your skin.

How many times have you reread it?

Almost countless times; whenever I move my books around I always give it a quick reread, like a little shot of poetry.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Recommended by: Queen Olivia

The book in a nutshell

I really don’t think I need to explain Harry Potter do I?

When did you first read it?

My mum read PS to my brother and I when I was six. She read COS and POA to us as well, before I was advanced enough to read GOF myself. I read OOTP, HBP and DH in a single sitting on the day they were released, so that nobody else could tell me what happened.

Why do you love to reread it? What did you learn from it?

Because, as Man Repeller says, it’s a way of coping with the shit show that is the world today. Cosying up with Harry means I can leave our world and all its threats of nuclear war, environmental destruction, terrorism and tax-dodging billionaires behind for a while, and enter a world where problems can be solved with magic, and where things like lucky potions, magical feasts, flying broomsticks, secret passageways and Hagrid exist.

Having said that, there is a lot a teenager can learn from Harry Potter. Dolores Umbridge and Cornelius Fudge might well be your first experience of corrupt politicians before you’re exposed to the real thing when you’re finally old enough to vote.

The Daily Prophet’s negative spin on Harry in his fifth year might mean you take news stories in the muggle world with a pinch of salt. Prejudice in the fictional form of blood-purity shows us how dangerous and unfounded ideas of racism and classism can be in the real world. And of course, we learn that love and friendship can triumph over hate.

How many times have you reread it?

I honestly couldn’t tell you. It would be no exaggeration to say hundreds. I took a module on Witchcraft in Literature at uni just so I could study it. I can finish pretty much every sentence if you open any book at random and read out a passage. I’ve read HBP five times this year alone.

Favourite Quote

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

Strangeland by Tracey Emin

Recommended by: Queen Ruth

The book in a nutshell

Strangeland is Tracey Emin’s memoirs. It tells stories from her childhood, dealing with an abortion, being raped aged 13 and her frequent wanking habits as an adult. It’s a dark-alley view of her life, soul and work.

When did you first read it?

In 2006, and I go back to it whenever I’m feeling particularly maudlin or melancholic.

Why do you love to reread it? What did you learn from it?

Tracey’s use of language in this book is outrageous. It literally opens with her describing being a baby in a crib and then moves on to her talking about the shit-stain that is Margate when she was growing up. It taught me that nonfiction can be incredibly creative and poetic. As a writer, it was hugely inspiring to see something so electrically raw be so beautiful.

How many times have you re-read it?

Five – usually around a big break up to get lost inside another woman’s head.

Favourite quote

“I remember, when I was about ten years old, working out that I would be thirty-six in the year 2000. It seemed so far away, so old, so unreal. And here I am, a fucked, crazy, anorexic-alcoholic-childless beautiful woman. I never dreamed it would be like this.”

Tell us what would your lists, queens!