That most unfair question: what is your favorite book?
Can any true bibliophile pick one? No. The answer is no. We cannot.
I can, however, provide a list of current books that excite me. I can show you the books that I read on a regular basis. I can show you the books which have been my favorites in the past, but I now feel “unworthy of”, since I can no longer recite the plot line point-by-point.
First I have to admit something to you: in high school I went on strike. That darned A.R. program exhausted my love for reading by requiring me to read books I was “capable” of reading instead of “interested” in reading. I “sparks-noted” it through much of high school and college, sadly. So, i missed out on much of the popular reading during that period. I also missed out on reading a lot of the “classics” that many teens read during that time frame.
Before this, I loved to read. I can still remember the day I was gifted my set of Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House books. I read those books over and over as a child. It’s funny how I could connect with Laura, even though we lived more than one hundred years apart. Some things are not changed by time.
Shel Silverstein poetry, Mary Kate and Ashley chapter books, and Goosebumps (especially the choose-your-own series) books were three other sets with a lot of miles on them. Though I did not read it multiple times, I truly loved Roald Dahl’s The BFG. We read it in fourth grade, and it swallowed me whole. It was my first fantasy chapter book. Though I can barely remember the plot line now, I still recite it as one of my favorite books. I think it changed the face of reading for me.
Now, lets skip those unpleasant “anti-reading” years.
What got me back into reading, whether you like it or not, was Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight. I avoided the books and the movies at all cost for a very long time — I’ve always been the “I refuse to follow the crowd” kind of person. After the frenzy became a mania, I became tired of not being able to follow along in conversations. So, I sat down and watched the movie with a few friends. It was decent, but I could see a few holes. They burned the back of my brain screaming “the book would tell you what happened there!” So after months of agonizing internal fighting, I gave in and read it.
That opened a flood gate, and I have been reading-without-ceasing since.
My post-Twilight years have brought much joy into my life. I’ve found that most of my favorite books belong to a section I would not expect: Young Adult. I’ve also found a niche that sets my heart a flutter: Science Fantasy. I’m also a bit in love with The New Weird, Portal Fantasy and Science Fiction be they in YA or any age range section.
Some of my favorite YA recent reads are The Girl of Fire and Thorns series by Rae Carson, The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.
Two series have captured my attention, but continued too long for my interest. I read Charlain Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series to its conclusion. I wish it had ended about halfway through. I also continue to read Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series (and Fox and O’Hare, and Lizzie and Diesel) books. Stephanie is hilarious, and I’m happy to drool over Morelli and Ranger, but I have to admit that the time for a reasonable conclusion has passed. I will read the series to its finish, but I’ve reached a point that I no longer enjoy each new book as much as the first ten.
This list wouldn’t be complete without the Divergent and Hunger Games series. I no longer call them favorites, but I did love them with most of my being when they were new. I love the courage they teach, and the strong female characters they flaunt.
My go to read-over-and-over-again book, though, is The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I grew up watching the movie. The movie is, of course, fantastic. As always, the book is better. I have to admit: I was incredibly frustrated the first time I read the book. The second time I gained an admiration for the complexities of the literary device Goldman used. Every time since I’ve relished in the story and envied the trickery of the secondary set of writing. The humor of the characters, the magic in the miracles, the adventure of the zoo… it’s what I search for every time I pick up a new book.
There is also a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman that I fawn over. It’s titled “The Yellow Wallpaper”. It’s been called many things over the years, including a ghost story, but in reality it’s a piece exploring feminism (in the day it was written), and the mental health field for women. I find new possibilities every time I read it. It’s incredible, and sad, and inspiring.
I’ve found that my common denominators in favorite books are an element of adventure, a touch of magic, and empowered female characters. It’s a major bonus if some science backing is thrown in. Double bonus if it tickles my funny bone. Jackpot if it can do all of this and manage further to teach me to look at life in a new and different way: like from the eyes of a sex trade survivor, or a person of a different cultural background than my own, or person living with depression.
The truth is, we all have our unicorn books — those magical few that remain sparkly and beautiful every time we read them… even when we know whats coming. I’ve found, though, that every book that pulls me into it’s world has my respect. The unicorn is magical, but horses, dogs, cows, and beetles are all lively and beautiful in their own way.
I love all of my books. Every. Precious. One.