What is your favorite book?
Any book lover will probably agree with me when I say that answering this question is like asking me to tell you which is my favorite child. Still, I feel like a failure when I am unable to answer the question! After being hit with this question last weekend by a friend and reader of Alison's Book Marks, I felt I had to delve into the answer.
Why do people ask me this question?
Is this a test? My first thought is always that the person is testing me to find out how "serious" a reader I really am. I have learned that sometimes people will follow up the "What is Your Favorite Book" question with the "Have You Read..." questions. The tone of the follow up questions will give me a pretty good idea of whether or not I'm being judged. Unfortunately, I am too often judged by other people. Don't be a book snob! Don't judge another book lover! The bottom line is, no person could possibly read every book available to us, no matter how wonderful they are. I can barely read all of the books that are on my own shelf! And, if I was a dedicated trashy romance novel reader, I would be no less a book lover than someone who loved historical fiction. By the way, it has taken me well over a year of blogging to realize that I am not a failure if I haven't read the latest "it" book.
Do they want to chat about books, and figure this is a good place to start? I love talking about books, especially my favorite books, but strangely enough, sometimes I have more to say about books I don't love. Some our best book club discussions have been about a book which provoked a different response from each of us. I may turn the question back on my interrogator just to find out what their intentions are.
I do love chatting about books, though!
Do they want to know what kind of blog I have? Again, one book may not necessarily give someone an idea of what you might find at Alison's Book Marks. I have an eclectic blog, to say the least, but it represents my bookshelf. This summer I have completely indulged myself by reading a lot of Young Adult fiction, and catching up on the Stephanie Plum series. With the cooler weather, you will probably see more adult titles, CIA-type mysteries, another classic or two, and some heavier topics. So, even my blog changes from season to season, depending on my own mood. Completely indulgent, I know!
Answer the Question, Alison! Talk to Us!
Same goes for authors. Even though Pat Conroy is my favorite contemporary author, I have a certain love for Jane Austen, as I do for Maggie Steifvater. Sure, I would love to have dinner with all three, but I would never put their books on the same shelf. Come to think of it, how could I rank an author like Pat Conroy, whose books I've read number in the teens, to an author like Stig Larsson, who, sadly, only wrote three books? Markus Zusak wrote The Book Thief, a book that has become a part of me, yet I have not read any of his other books. Can I even include him in my list of favorite authors, simply because he wrote one of my favorite books?
What's The "Go To" Book?
Before I give someone a book recommendation, I usually ask a lot of questions first: Are you looking for something epic or something light? Something brainless or something thought-provoking? Are you going away on vacation or are you going to curl up next to the fireplace at home? Do you want something the whole family can read and discuss? Are you looking for heart-pounding or laugh out loud funny? Different moods call for different books!
When my friend (and blog reader) was seeing the difficulty I was having naming my favorite book, he re-phrased the question. He asked me to give him my "go to" book. Again, I felt like a blogger-failure for not having that one book that everyone and anyone would love. Maybe I think books are too personal, and as much as I love to a reader to his favorite book, it's a lot of pressure.
Even a book like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a tough book to recommend, because some of the content may be too violent for some readers, yet it's an amazing book that I still see all over the place.
In the end, I told him to read The Book Thief. I felt like it's a book anyone, regardless of mood, age, or gender, will love. As I said above, after I read this book, it became a part of me. I can only hope he loves it as much as I do.
What do you Recommend?
After reviewing what I've written so far, I have to laugh, because I have yet to mention some of my most-recommended authors! I guess just because I feel something special for a book, it may not mean that it's meant for everyone. I often recommend Janet Evanovich, Sarah Addison Allen, Richard Russo and Elin Hildenbrand. Yet, none of their books have even come up yet! My mind is a conundrum.
What Is My Favorite Book?
After much deliberation, even soul-searching, I came up with an answer to the original question: What Is My Favorite Book? My favorite book of all time. It is a book I will never, ever review. It's one that I have read several times, and is due for another reading this winter. I have done it. I have answered the question.
My favorite book is: East of Eden by John Steinbeck
I've done it. Now you tell me....What is your favorite book?
As the book lover among your friends, do you have a "go to" book?