My answer: I haven’t read it yet. I’m still looking.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read (and reread) some brilliant books I adore. I’ve stitched them together patchwork-style to make up a quilt of favorites-so-far, but I can’t pinpoint a solo favorite square.
That patchwork—a California King—includes titles like The Little Prince, Splitting an Order, How to Read a Poem, Poetry 180, Radiance, Anne of Green Gables, The House on Mango Street, Rumors of Water, Crafting the Personal Essay, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, and many more.
How much longer will it get before I read The One? Or will I?
Do you have a favorite book? I’m curious as to how people choose. Did it stir up, clarify, or satiate some of your deepest ruminations? Is it a witty, wise, and relatable voice that feels like a best friend in print? Or is it something else entirely?
Of course, I don’t have to lay claim to a favorite book. But the fact that I can’t name one has me thinking, and the possibility of someday reading it intrigues me. I have questions, not the least of which is if I’m sure I don’t have a favorite. Am I just being indecisive?
Growing up, I was known for being the last one to choose an entree off the menu. Even at fast food joints. I remember feeling like it was such a treat to eat out that I wanted to make the most of the opportunity. Okay, Bethany, what if this is the last time you ever eat at a restaurant? Do not blow this: Nuggets, or cheeseburger?
But with books, I don’t think my trouble is in the choosing. It’s more a difficulty in pinpointing what I’m reaching out for in this season of my life.
When someone else names their favorite title and explains how they came to choose it, what does that say to me?
It says they are sure about something, that book connects to them. It seems to illuminate some aspect of their identity, journey, or perspective—so it might be one key to more fully understanding them.
What if we all took the time to ask each other, “What’s your favorite book?” What might we learn? How would it affect the way we listen to others?
For those of us who haven’t found it yet, maybe we could try answering:
What kind of book am I hoping to read?
What would it include or exclude?
What am I wanting to read about this world or my wishes for it that I haven’t already read?
I’m still mulling that over. There may always be an open space in my patchwork for one more square to be added. I’ll keep reading, hoping an artist can fill in for me what I can’t quite articulate myself. In the end, perhaps my anthology-quilt itself can be my favorite book.
Photo by Kitty Terwolbeck, Creative Commons license via Flickr. Post and photos by Bethany Rohde.
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