I'm a big rereader, and there are books I return to again and again.
I won't try to sort out why I'm this way, as I don't know, and sorting it out might confront me with some unflattering truths. (Such as the fact that I have the emotional make-up of a five-year-old, and want to hear the same story over and over.)
But what puzzles me is that there are books I greatly enjoyed and admired that I feel no urge to revisit. Most of the Pynchon canon, for example. Ditto Jean Rhys. Much of Nabokov (although I expect to reread Lolita and some of the short stories a few more times before I go to that great library in they sky). I'm reading At Swim-Two-Birds right now, and having a great time, but despite that I doubt that it will land on my To Read stack again.
You might be tempted to remark that of course these are literary fiction, and therefore challenging rather than comforting, or some similar bit of reasoning. Nope, that's not it. I find much of Evelyn Waugh, and Robertson Davies, and John Barth, and Donald Barthelme, and several others, to call to be reread. Heck, I even want to revisit John Hawkes at times, and he's just plain difficult. (And Gatsby and Sun Also Rises get reread, but that goes without saying; and, in any case, both of them are easy reading as well as instruction manuals on craft.)
It isn't a literary thing. I once cheerfully read Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles, but doubt I'll take them off the shelf again. Yet I've plowed through O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels more times than I care to admit. And, sure, O'Brian is a far greater writer--one you can read for the sheer joy of his prose--but that's not the key. I've also read Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy a few times, and expect to read it again...even though no one would ever mistake Asimov for a master of prose, and even though his characters are largely interchangeable, not only within a given novel, but between completely different books.
I think Alan Furst is brilliant, but I can't imagine I'd reread his novels. Some of James Ellroy, on the other hand, calls out for multiple perusals. Chandler, I want to reread. Hammett, not so much. How come? Dunno.
There's a third category here, too: Books I reread because I foolishly read them too young the first time around. In the last few years, this has included Crime and Punishment, Madame Bovary, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I was absorbed in them when I read them in my youth, but they were beyond me in many ways. Having reread them, I might or might not reread them again. Depends on how long I live, I suppose.
Come to think of it, there's a fourth category, nostalgia books. Here I'd place Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, Ian Fleming's James Bond novels. Possibly Poe. (And possibly not. Poe is confusing. When you're young you think he's marvelous because he's so shocking, morbid, and gloomy. Get a little older, and the excesses of the language seem a bit silly. Get older yet, and you see that those excesses were carefully crafted, and that they author is winking at you from between the lines. I veer from thinking I've outgrown him to thinking I'm finally catching up with him, and expect a few more of these cycles over the coming decades.) These books are like visiting the old neighborhood, and it's hard not to be comforted by them.
I'm glad I don't have to try to justify my preferences under cross-examination, because many of the books I value are books I don't care to read again, and some of the books I choose to reread don't have clear and obvious virtues. When it comes down to it, I have no idea why I read what I read in the first place, much less a second time around.
No wonder the publishers and booksellers are always nervous. If I'm any kind of example of the public, they have good reason to wonder what the hell people could be thinking.