1. The Giver
This was one of the first books that really made an impact on me. I read it first as an 8 year old and then again recently as an adult. There were so many things I missed the first time around. I knew I loved this book, but as time has passed, I discovered it is part of who I have become. This is part of what saddens me when students tell me they hate reading, you're missing out on part of your identity.
2. Fahrenheit 451
"It was a pleasure to burn." This is the part I did not fully understand years ago as a high school freshman. I did not get what was "pleasurable." But after reading it again, I now understand how easy it is to see something evil as pleasurable.
3. The Great Gatsby
I know, I talk about this book a lot. Who can blame me? Fitzgerald writes prose like none other. Every time I read it (I've read it about 5 times) I notice something I didn't before. Most recently, I was filled with sorrow for Daisy's children more than ever before. They are trophies, just like Daisy. As Daisy describes, their best hope in this world is to be "beautiful fools."
4.. The Alchemist
It is simply not possible for someone to grasp this book completely on the first read. In fact, it is not possible to grasp it entirely, ever. Coelho fills this book with such wisdom and peace that can never be fully understood. Like the Bible, it can be interpreted in hundreds of ways. When I first read it, I thought it was well written but a little dry. Upon reading it a second time, I discovered it is not at all dry! It is full of sweet, juicy prose.
5. The Chronicles of Narnia
At first, Narnia was a fictional world full of fantasy and imagination. But after I have grown and re-read it, I have learned that it is a story of faith. When characters are tempted and fail, we see them redeemed. When faith is tested, it shines out all the clearer. Yes, this book is for children. But that is only the starting point.