The Compulsive Reader: Reading Rants: My Favorite Book

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Reading Rants: My Favorite Book

I hate, hate, hate the question, "So, what's your favorite book?" 

Hate. It.

I feel like the people who ask that question usually mean well and want to get to know me a little better, but they're just really asking the wrong question. Having to narrow down everything I've ever read in my entire life into one book that will supposedly define what sort of person I am to the random professor or person at a cocktail party who doesn't even know me is just unfair. And what I respond with inevitably makes me sound shallow, ill-read, or like I'm trying too hard to be pretentious. And while I am silly, I don't think I'm shallow, I'm definitely not ill-read, and trying to appear to be pretentious is just like, way too much work for me and I'll inevitably blow it when I make an unintentionally off-color joke.

So I hate being asked what my favorite book is.

I get that the whole idea behind asking that question is that people want something succinct and concrete about you. But saying that I have short hair or I am sarcastic or that I am of medium height is something completely and totally different from telling you that I think I could and would live happily in the world of Harry Potter for the rest of my life, Tamora Pierce's Tortall fantasies are my comfort reads, I read Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier every fall since it first haunted me for over eight years ago, I think that Jane Eyre is possibly the coolest heroine ever, John Green always makes me laugh and laugh and cry, Jennifer Donnelly's historical fiction is so beautiful I want to cry, and that there are hundreds of books whose titles I have written down in a tiny striped notebook that I've read and loved equally and unequally, but they're not for everyone--they're only for me.

It's not the same thing at all.

But I just smile and say, "Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier." And then let them think what they may.


Danielle K. said...

Lovely post. I often feel like people judge based on responses to that question. Also, it could change depending on my mood; I don't have a favorite book, so much as many favorite books. Though, when asked, I always reply "Alice in Wonderland." That is the book I make a point to re-read each year.

Yael said...

I just name the first 1-3 books that come to mind. And then I inevitably feel bad an hour later because OMG I CAN'T BELIEVE I FORGOT THAT ONE.

Kristilyn (Reading in Winter) said...

I agree -- it's a ridiculous questions! I mean, if someone asked me 'Who are your favourite authors?' I could totally answer that! But to narrow it down to one book? Impossible. I think I love every single book John Green has written -- those alone I'd have a problem downsizing to just one!

Great post!

marybelle said...

I do have a favorite book that I read each year, without fail, but most people don't have ONE absolute favorite. I think it's a question that puts people on the spot.

Lauren said...

And the question is made even worse by the fact that while Harry Potter is easily my favorite series, it's been my favorite for so long, and the books are so popular, that I feel like it shouldn't be my answer - it's so far into perfection that it can't be included. So I say Tamora Pierce's books instead <3 (which still leaves out my /other/ favorites...gah!)