Today I was reading a novel I’m soon to review on my book blog. And the characters pose an interesting thought. Everyone has a favorite book, be it comic or classic hardback, Vampire love affairs or gritty courtroom dramas. Some people read nothing but magazines and others choose .99 Indie novels. But everyone’s favorite novel says something about that person if you think about it.
Which brings me back around to my question. I’ve gone around saying “Gone With the Wind” is my favorite novel the last several years. But it’s been years since I read Margaret Mitchell’s one-of-a-kind classic. I loved it mostly for the movie, my first exposure to her Civil War melodrama. Later on my mother bought me the mammoth hardback and I read it several times over. I loved the depth the book provided, the nuances not even Gable and Leigh could show on-screen, between Rhett and Scarlett. What’s more, the book doesn’t just dwell on the love story, but everyone’s story. Much as I still love that novel, I don’t jump at the chance to read it once a year.
Another favorite of mine was Jane Eyre. This too was inspired in part by the BBC retelling featuring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens. I had already read the book as a young teen, but this miniseries brought it to full, colorful life. And while I have read Jane Eyre multiple times and adore every cinematic adaptation I’ve come across, it’s not my favorite book.
There have been others. Anne of Green Gables, because it was the first classic book I read as a child. I had a long-standing affair with anything written by L.M Montgomery or Louisa May Alcott. Christy, by Catherine Marshall, lived the kind of adventures in a time I could only dream about. Caroline B. Cooney took me into a chivalry filled past with “Both Sides of Time.” I wanted to jump into those Victorian worlds and live there a while. In high school, I dove into the worlds of Lord of the Rings and Wheel of Time. I couldn’t get enough fantasy and magic. And I can’t leave out the Bible. Having been raised on it since birth, I still love reading about Moses and the Red Sea and those ancient cultures.
Much as I love all of these books, and much as they shaped my love of literature, they remain fixed in the past. Now I read as much as I can get my hands on while keeping a sharp focus on writing. Often one love gives way to another. But every once in a while a novel grips my attention with its prose and brilliance. Today’s novels aren’t written in classical language. People favor commercial over literary fiction. I’m no exception to the rule. Sometimes it’s easier to read a .99 piece of fluff than a complex drama. And with literature, there’s no guarantee that the heroine or hero will end up happy. People might die, or end up miserable and alone instead of happy and in love. As bleak as real life can be, it’s safer to fall into solid Young Adult fiction, where clouds are made with silver linings.
So now I answer the harder question for myself. And hopefully I haven’t lost you yet, reader, because I’ll ask this of you soon.
What is my favorite book today? It’s hard for me to pinpoint for certain. To give you a thorough summary I’ll need to write another post. And I challenge you to do this with me. Let’s give ourselves a limit of five and see what we come up with Ready? Go!