Do you have one book, that you could categorically say is your favourite book?
It’s a question that comes up a lot when you tell a non-reader that you’re a reader: “oh, so what’s your favourite book?” Aside from the fact that this question usually causes me to forget every single book I’ve ever read in my life, I genuinely don’t think I could pick one favourite, even with a gun to my head (well…I guess I could lie to avoid getting shot, but still!).
For non-readers ‘choosing a favourite book’ may seem like a simple thing – I mean, you know what your own favourite colour is, don’t you? – but for bookworms it isn’t so simple. For one thing, bookworms have read a lot of books, which means they have an enormous amount of choice, and they also feel incredibly deeply about books, in a way that might be incomprehensible to non-readers. So choosing one favourite, is not an easy matter, or one to be taken lightly!
For me, how much I like a book is often down to the emotional reaction I have when I read it, which is an impossible thing to describe sometimes (which is why it’s so hard writing reviews!). It isn’t always based on the quality of the writing, or how meticulously plotted it was, but off my own reaction to the characters and their plights, and the overall feeling the book gave me.
In that way some books give you a warm, comforting feeling, whilst others make you uncomfortable, in the best kind of way, or have you full of rage, or sadness, or hope. The worst kind of book in my opinion is one that illicits no feelings at all in me, as even ones that bring up unpleasant emotions like anger, can be could be potentially counted as a favourite. Clearly any book that has prompted such an emotional response has resonated with me in some way!
I also think that our favourite books are ever changing: whilst I still have, and always will have warm, fuzzy feelings towards my childhood favourite books, I wouldn’t say that they’re all still my favourites now (except Harry Potter – those books won’t ever be bumped off my favourites list!). Many of my favourite books are ones I’ve read in the last few years, but I still don’t think I could answer the question of which is my favourite.
The fact that I no longer reread also confuses the issue: can a book you’ve only read once be your favourite?
As a child I read my favourites over and over, but these days there are so many books I want to read that I don’t have time to reread. But the idea of a favourite book conjures up the image of a battered old book that had been read over and over again. However, these days I’d count books like Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo and Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier as favourites, and seen as I only read them for the first time a year or two ago, I have never yet reread them. So how do I know for sure that I love them as much as I think I do? Surely by nature a favourite book is one you have returned to over and over?
Essentially, what I’m trying to get at in this ramble, is that I personally find it impossible to narrow down the books I’ve read to one favourite, or even a few favourites. There’s so many books that I absolutely adore and for such different reasons, that putting them side by side and trying to choose between them is impossible, and unfair in my opinion. Yet still, as a bookworm, I find myself being asked the question, and having no idea how to respond!
So would you find it possible to choose one favourite, or a handful of favourite books? How do you answer the dreaded question, when it comes up in casual conversation?