I have never once been able to answer this question with any ease. Even on those rare occasions when I can name a singular book, it usually comes with stipulations: favourite book at the moment, favourite book in a specific genre, favourite book in particular mood, etc. I don’t have a favourite book. I don’t think I’ve ever had a favourite book.
Heck, I don’t even think I have a favourite genre. I used to think I did (fantasy), but I’ve been trying to expand my horizons in the past couple of years, and I really enjoy a number of genres. I suppose if I had to pick, I’d probably pick fantasy (especially magical realism) or literary fiction, as most of my top rated books fall into those genres. I like books that feel magical. They don’t have to have, or even hint at, actual magic, but they have to feel magical: a special sort of bond between friends, evocative writing, a hint of mystery, a quiet beauty overlaying the story, etc. I also enjoy quiet books, books with wit, books that celebrate people with flaws and fears, books that echo their antagonists personality, or books that don’t rely on an epic climax or conclusion.
But, how does one pick a favourite book? How does one even pick a favourite author?
I have authors who have been instrumental in my reading life: Margaret Atwood for writing books that gave me new insight into what stories can be, Ray Bradbury for charming me with his writing style, Terry Pratchett for writing books that I can read or listen to even when I’m grumpier than the hounds of hell, Graham Oakley for showing me that kids books can have both humour and detailed art, JonArno Lawson and Shaun Tan for showing me that books don’t need words, Neil Gaimen for igniting my imagination, Catherynne M. Valente for enchanting me with her imagination, John Scalzi for writing complex but accessible SciFi that doesn’t make me (a woman) feel like an outsider, etc.
All of these authors have taught me something and given me a great deal through their books, but I wouldn’t call them favourites. I don’t/haven’t read all their books, nor have I loved all of the books that I’ve read by them. Admittedly, I used to think that Atwood was my favourite author, but I’ve found other authors and books that speak to my inner Canadian wilderness: Jocelyne Saucier, Jesse Ruddock, and Heather O’Neill come to mind.
In a way, I’ve always been a little envious of the people who have a favourite book (or two). I feel like there must be a great deal of comfort in knowing that you can always turn to that book and enjoy it.
That said, not having a favourite gives me a bit of freedom and flexibility, because I don’t have to worry about being crushed if I meet someone who hates it or find out that the author have opinions that I find very problematic.
Where do you sit on the matter? Do you have a favourite book, author or genre?
This post was inspired by Lauren from Lauren and the Books (YouTube) who recently started a series where she’s answering questions from Lit Chat : Conversation Starters about Books and Life by Book Riot, which you can buy via her affiliate link or via pretty much any book story (ask your local book shop for it!).