We don’t need to have just one favorite. We keep adding favorites. Our favorite book is always the book that speaks most directly to us at a particular stage in our lives. And our lives change. We have other favorites that give us what we most need at that particular time. But we never lose the old favorites. They’re always with us. We just sort of accumulate them. – Lloyd Alexander
As most of you know, I read. A lot. All. The. Time. A lot of stories have flown though my head in my lifetime, but I probably have little or no memory of most of them. With so much casually absorbed information in such quick succession, it takes a significant emotional impact for a book to really stick with me and make me want to go back to it – or avoid it with everything I’ve got.
So here’s a list of the books that have accomplished that, the ones whose names almost instantly stir some emotion. They’re not really in any particular order, just how they occur to me. Some of this is probably going to be pretty spoilerish, just so you’re prepared to have endings ruined.
- Moby Dick by Herman Melville. This is one of those books that I avoid. It still irks me, and I am not easily irked. I could easily write a whole post about it, but I won’t – right now. It was part of my literature curriculum one year, and I was so proud of myself for reading the whole thing – and even almost enjoying it – even though my mom had given me permission to skip it. And then, at the end, everybody died! Rather abruptly, too. Except the narrator (isn’t that convenient?). Grr… But I’ll stop now before this turns into a rant (if it isn’t already). On to happier things…
- The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. Though it’s hard to pick one favorite book, when someone asks what my favorite is, The Lord of the Rings comes out of my mouth immediately. I first read it six years ago, and I’ve read it every summer since; in fact, I’m planning to start it as soon as I finish my current batch of library books. Although the first emotion it brings to mind is sadness because of the very end, the sorrow is layered with enough other, more pleasant emotions that it hardly matters any more. I could write a whole post on this book, too, but again, I won’t today.
- Amelia and the Outlaw by Lorraine Heath. Probably the most adorable romance I’ve ever read. I’m pretty sure I devoured it in one day the first time I encountered it, and as soon as I finished I wanted to start again. It’s short and sweet and always makes me smile. As in a goofy, happy, satisfied grin. It’s probably not completely realistic, but I don’t care; I love it anyway.
- A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers. Another that I don’t like, mostly because of the end. Getting through it in the first place was somewhat of a struggle, so when, at the very end, the main character died, I couldn’t even believe it was happening. I was very unhappy. Now, from reading reviews about it, I think that somehow in the second book it turns out she isn’t dead (though I really can’t see how that would work), but I didn’t know that at the time. It’s the worst ending I’ve ever read (and you’ve already heard me talk about Moby Dick). I don’t want to read the second just on principle, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to continue resisting wanting to know how she doesn’t die.
- Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. I’ve loved this book for quite awhile. It’s kind of like Amelia and the Outlaw because it’s a happy-ending book that leaves me feeling good, but it’s not as much of a romance, and there’s more depth to the story. I love the story, the characters, the humor… In fact, there’s hardly anything in this book I can think of that I don’t like.
- Matched by Ally Condie. This is my most recent love. I discovered it on Goodreads, and was a bit skeptical; it sounded like one of those teen books that could get iffy, but I decided to give it a try anyway. I am so glad I did. The best way I can describe it is, “This book hurt.” I really fell in love with the characters, and nearly the whole book involved watching them hurting. It falls under the “sad is happy for deep people” category. I also really like the author’s writing style. I cannot wait for the last book in the series to come out.