Like many people who read all of the time, I often get the question, “So what’s your favourite book?” And you know what?
I really dislike that question.
I know, I know, I should be excited to talk about books with people. But I find the question frustrating because I never have an answer. I don’t have a favourite book. I have never had one. And yet when I tell people I don’t have a favourite, they always seem surprised, to the point where I have received some pretty negative reactions.
Over the years I have read a lot of books, and while I love many of them, I love them all for different reasons. I can’t definitively say that one book is better than another. Do I love Harry Potter? Sure. I could say it’s my favourite wizarding book. But is it better than other books in other genres? No. I can name many series that I have enjoyed, many authors, and many fictional worlds. But often they are so different from each other, I can’t rank them on the same scale.
This question also feels like a challenge – and maybe I’m crazy for thinking it. But it seems to me that I always get this question from people who don’t read, and it’s like they want to judge how good my taste in books is based on a single title. It’s like I have to suddenly sum up years worth of reading by naming the best book I’ve ever read, and that just doesn’t seem fair. Much like you shouldn’t judge a book by the cover, I believe you shouldn’t judge a reader based on a single book.
Over the years I have chosen many books on the spot as my “favourite,” and more recently I seem to default to one book in particular: After Hamelin by Bill Richardson. Do I think this book is better than other books I’ve read? No, I don’t. I have personal attachments to this book because my sister gave it to me. It was also my first introduction to fairy tale re-tellings, something I still love. And I won’t lie, I like using this book because it’s obscure enough that most people haven’t read or even heard of it, meaning I get to talk a little about the book and explain why I like it.
I really do enjoy talking about book with other people. I love it when people ask me, “Who are some of your favourite authors?” This way, I can quickly provide an array of authors that I like, that better represent the variety of books that I read, rather than trying to sum up all of my reading experience in just one title. It feels like I can actually have a conversation about books and the different genres that I read. Hopefully we discover a common love, or maybe I’ll even get introduced to a great new author.
What about you? Do you get asked this question a lot? Do you have a favourite book?