If you've ever read one of those articles that asks notable people to list their favorite books, you may have been impressed or daunted to see them pick Proust or Thomas Mann or James Joyce. You might even feel sheepish about the fact that you reread Pride and Prejudice or The Lord of the Rings, or The Catcher in the Rye or Gone With the Wind every couple of years with some much pleasure. Perhaps, like me, you're even a little suspicious of their claims, because we all know that the books we've loved best are seldom the ones we esteem the most highly - or the ones we'd most like other people to think we read over and over again.

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