Wednesday, October 20, 2010

one flew over the hitchhiker's guide to the lord of the fear and loathing in harry potter and the catcher in the watership down

let's talk about favorites.

my favorite color as a moody teen was black. in college, it was blood red. now it is a simple clean white. i feel no guilt over changing my fave color and reserve the right to love yellow tomorrow.

growing up, my favorite food was chinese. now it's a tie between indian and my mom's spaghetti sauce. who cares if i change my mind about fave foods, right?

so why do i feel like i have to have a favorite book?
for a long time, my go-to answer was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. i still adore that book because of the feelings it evoked, because of the way Ken Kesey brought every single character to life, because of the beautiful way he used a first-person narrator who wasn't actually the MC. i could go on and on.

BUT! - is it really my favorite if i haven't read it over and over the way i did the Harry Potter books?
OR! - maybe Lord of the Rings is my favorite, considering it has - in my opinion - the best world-building i've ever read and one of my favorite characters ever created (Tom Bombadil. and curse you, Peter Jackson, for leaving him out of the movie!)
AND! - how can Kurt Vonnegut be my favorite writer and yet none of his books standing alone would make my top-ten list?

i stood and stared at my shelves for a long time last night, trying to find just one book that jumped out at me, that had absolutely everything i need from a story. i couldn't do it.
my eyes went from spine to spine, and each new title gave me something different - a shiver, a smile, a knowing nod - as i remembered the pages and what i got out of reading them. i just ended up wanting to hug my whole bookcase.

and that's when i decided - i don't have a favorite, and i probably never will.
i don't think it's possible for a single book to give me the horror of The Road, the deliciousness of The Devil Wears Prada, the wordsmithing of Hocus Pocus, the humor of Hitchhiker's and the adventure of the Golden Compass all rolled into one. and i don't think i'd want it all in one book anyway.

so i am resolved to not have a favorite. but tell me what you're in the mood for, and i'll have a recommendation.

what about you? do you have a favorite? a top 5? how do you know, without a doubt, that you love one book above the rest?


Matthew Rush said...

I had to stop by when I saw that title!

Great post. LOTR is certainly my favorite story ever, but I do love other books too. I haven't read any as often as that one though.

McD said...

I also have to put Lord of the Rings at the top of my list.

Once I am passed the first three chapters (not an easy task) I have to put Stoker's Dracula in my top 5.

The Harry Potter series has to be there for sheer pleasure and the wonderful escape to a rich new world.

From there I have to agree with you about mood often determining a favorite of the moment.

Marieke said...

I don't have any definite favorites either. It depends on my mood, mostly. But even then there are many books I love to little pieces and to choose one from that stack would almost feel like I'm betraying the others ;)