A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far…wait, rewrite! I had my genre’s confused a moment. Let’s begin again. Once upon a time, there was a little girl whose favorite possessions were her books. She would read anything she could get her grubby hands on, from Boxcar Children serials to Robin McKinley’s “Beauty.” Whether she had read it for the first or tenth time, she still adored her worn picture books. And she struggled with older novels that were almost too difficult to decipher.
Does that story sound familiar to you? I’m reminded, more than a month after my last article (shame, shame!) that I promised a follow up to that recently posed question. Do you have an answer yet? You might have forgotten by now, so let me remind you of the question.
“What is my favorite book today?”
Part of my struggle in writing a part two to my first was that I still can’t tell you the answer to my own question. What are my favorite novels?
So let’s review a few reads that stand out the most in recent years.
“Some Quiet Place,” by Kelsey Sutton is about a girl, Elizabeth Caldwell who cannot feel emotions. Instead she “sees” them. I can’t begin to express the depth of my love for this book. Sutton manages to make you feel when the title character longs to. The language and symbolism is beautiful and the story left me wanting more. And it inspired me to write during a time when I felt particularly empty.
“The Last Dragon,” by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Gray is the first graphic novel I ever accidentally read. I bought it as a gift to my teenaged niece and devoured it myself before wrapping. Upon reading I learned the appeal of these adult picture books. You can almost taste the salty seas and dragon ash on the air.
“Sunshine,” by Robin McKinley hits another one out of the ballpark with the novelty of an original vampire novel and a stroke of brilliance. McKinley takes her knack for witty heroines and natural storytelling and applies it to the supernatural realm. Dialogue, character and world building is at its best and the result is pure magic.
Finally, last and certainly not the least of these, I offer tribute to Gayle Forman’s gift for tragedy. Within a few words, this author dives right into a heart wrenching story that poses several heavy questions. I never broke down into tears, surprising given the source matter. But I felt more deeply than any novel has made me feel recently.
Six examples later and where are we? Back to square one. Not that any of the novels I’ve mentioned aren’t worthy of being my favorite. But I feel like I’m still holding back, waiting for “the big one.”
So perhaps the reason I can’t give you an answer to my question isn’t because I haven’t found anything worthy to name favorite. Perhaps the stories we read in our formative years remain our favorites because they were so pivotal in shaping our world views. Maybe they helped us discover a whole new world of adventures. Or perhaps they even sparked our longing to write in turn.
I have found many worthy books and worthy authors and perhaps the simple solution is to go on reading. And not just read bubblegum stories but something that will challenge us and reach us the same way a novel did when we were young.