What is Your Favorite Book?

Recently a student asked me the question that English teachers get asked a lot–I imagine they do anyway.  “What is your favorite book?”

Oh no. This should be such an easy question, and the person asking the question figures he/she will get a really good book since clearly this English teacher reads voraciously and can offer up a good read. This thinking seems logical.  This thinking seems smart. It’s an amazing short cut to a great book. But all I can think is oh no. Clearly I need a go-to that I can just casually throw out like it really is the best of the best and my favorite.

Instead of an easy answer though, I have to spend what feels like eternity in my mind sorting through the books I have read, putting them into categories, and deciding which rise to the top of all categories. What is the criteria for my favorite book? How do all of these books stack up to that judging?

Don’t get me wrong. I like this question. I like it for the torture it puts me through. It’s an impossible question. I can’t choose one. If I’m lucky, I can give a list of top ten.

You’re all really asking for my top ten list, right?

But even then, books are favorites for their overall goodness, for the time and place I read them, for the place I was in life. Books come in and out of my list of top ten, so it’s not even a permanent list. Once and for all, I’m going to try and answer this question with my top ten list. These are, however, not in any particular order. I’m just not up for that mental task right now. But the books all moved me for varying and personal reasons. They all gave me a “book hangover,” the intellectual and emotional equivalent of the bodily aches caused by too much booze.

So here they are. What is your favorite book?


7 thoughts on “What is Your Favorite Book?”

  1. Hmmmm….I’m now questioning my own ‘book maturyity’ since I have a tendency to gravitate toward the kind of book that requires no-thinking, you know, the Jackie Collins, Charlaine Harris, Nelson DeMille kind. Yes I have read a classic or two in my time, and I liked them tremendously. So now, thanks to you, I have a couple of must reads to add to my list. Not to put any pressure on you, but, which one would you recommend from your list I read first? 🙂 🙂

    1. Hi Polly, it might seem like I’m ignoring your question. On the contrary, I’m really struggling with recommending one to you since 1. my list is so personal and 2. I don’t know that you would like my choice and 3. then I may just have a crack pot opinion. Part of this might stem from a bad book group experience. I’m going to recommend several, and then you can read up on them and see which one seems best suited to you:
      1. The Remains of the Day
      2. Citizen
      3. To Kill a Mockingbird
      Tell me which one you pick!

  2. I love your Orwell pick. This is such a dreaded question, much like what is your favorite album or movie, I find it difficult to pick a specific text. For non-fiction I would have to go with Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner, it is a must read for anyone who lives in the southwest. For fiction I am a sucker for old horror and fantasy, and find myself reading Lovecraft, Poe, Kipling, and Tolkien. I also have a secret love for Jane Austen novels, which I guess is no longer a secret.

    1. Hi Paul,
      Nope, the secret is now out! So have you combined horror with Jane Austen and read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? I have not heard of Cadillac Desert, but I will add it to my list of books to enquire about. Thanks for sharing!

      1. I have not read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies outside of a sneak peek at the local book store. I appreciate the creativity behind it, but I like to keep my Austen and Lovecraft separate. It is like sugar and pepper, I like them both, but not at the same time.

        Cadillac Desert is a great non-fiction read, but be warned, it is not a feel good book.

  3. Beth-

    As a die-hard bookworm/library nut, I LOVE your post! I especially love what you said about books being a favorite because of where they were read, where you were in life, etc…So true!


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