My Favorite Book (At Least for Today)

I started a post about fear a few weeks ago and never made it past the opening line. Last week I started one on Japan and finished an entire paragraph before getting stuck at a crossroads of sorts. Maybe one day I’ll finish them. Or not. Every once in awhile I delete all my unfinished posts. I figure that if an idea simply has to be expressed, it’ll come back around and nag at me until I write something to shut it up. Otherwise, why clutter my virtual desk with stuff that has lost that urgent, gotta-write-about-this spark?

Singularly uninspired, I spent most of the day wandering around the internet and kept coming across headlines touting the best book/movie/TV show/band/song/whatever, and I thought, Well, that’s entirely subjective. I decided to write about my own favorites, and then I remembered that I get uncomfortable when anyone asks me, “What’s your favorite (fill in the blank)?” Not because I think the person is prying, but because the answer depends on my mood at the time — and that is bound to change, so any answer I give feels incomplete if not downright misleading. (Yes, I know that I’m odd. I’ve had more than one outside source confirm it.)

So, on a quirky but positive day, the top contender would be something like Meg Cabot’s Size 12 Is Not Fat. On a sedate but still upbeat day, perhaps it would be Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. On a why-is-life-turning-into-classic-science-fiction day, it would be either Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, depending on how hopeful I feel in the moment. And if a certain nine-year-old has managed to upset my equilibrium, then it’s all about Ecclesiastes. In other words, I have a favorite to suit every mental state.

TIME OUT! Did you know STARZ is turning Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander into a television series? Or that Ronald D. Moore (remember he brought us the amazing Battlestar Galactica reboot?) will be writing/executive producing? Or that the initial 16-episode run is already in production, set to air in 2014? (Find more info on Yahoo TV, and Ms. Gabaldon’s site.)

Sorry, just had to stick that in there. But if anyone still wants to know what my favorite book is when I strip away all the moodiness, it’s J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. (No, I’m not cheating because he wrote it as one book — I even once owned a special edition of it bound that way. His publisher broke it into three volumes.) I’ve read every word — including the appendices — multiple times, though the last was more than a decade ago.

More than Tolkien’s compelling world and near-total immersion storytelling, there is a sentimental component that keeps the book close to my heart. When I was a child, a couple of my siblings enjoyed terrorizing me in various ways. At about age seven I learned that if I could make it to my oldest sister’s door, she would allow me to enter the safety of her room on one condition:  I had to be quiet. Consequently, I read. A lot. And of all my sister’s books that I read during that time, Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings spoke to me. I connected with Frodo in a way I never had with Bilbo in The Hobbit. I don’t really have anything profound to say. I’m just grateful to the late Mr. Tolkien and to my sister for giving me those hours of respite.

I’d love to hear about other people’s favorite books. Do you have any childhood reads that stuck with you?

2 thoughts on “My Favorite Book (At Least for Today)”

  1. I guess I should admit that sci-fi and fantasy are really not my thing, BUT I recently re-read A Wrinkle in Time and fell in love with it all over again. Brilliant! But back to classics and chick-lit now…

    1. Madeleine L’Engle, yes! The scene in which Mrs. Whatsit gives her practical demonstration of wrinkling still tickles my imagination, and it’s been…ah…decades since I last read A Wrinkle in Time.

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