Never Ask a Reader About Their Favorite Book

Photo Credit: sodahead.com

It seems like a simple enough question when you ask, but can turn into a whirlwind of things for the person who is trying to come up with an answer. Because any person who has read as few as fifty books will likely struggle for an answer. Here’s what would happen to me if asked about my favorite book.

The first thought to enter my head would be the list I keep of my top/ favorite books read. It’s a list in the ballpark of 150 books. I would think of the top five. The top five includes Michael Connelly, Suzanne Collins, T. Jefferson Parker, Marcus Sakey, and Eric Nylund. Three of these authors are crime novelists and two are not. I would think back to each of the books and decide that it’s near impossible to pick any one over another, no matter how I have them ranked.

Then I’d think of my first book. Could that be my favorite? I’ve read it more times than I’ve read any other book. I wrote it. The protagonist is me. Surely it’s at least in the conversation. But does the book stand up against the others I’m thinking of? And how could I forget The Great Gatsby?

Then my Excel spreadsheet of all of the book authors I own would come to mind. I would think about the fact that a handful of authors make up a huge chunk of my reading. My favorite must be written by one of them. Maybe Robert B. Parker or Steve Hamilton? Maybe Robert Crais or James Patterson?

Then all of the series I read would jump into the equation. Katniss Everdeen is one of my favorite literary characters ever. And Alex Cross. And Spenser. And Elvis Cole. And Karen Vail.

And finally, with my head spinning in circles, I would accept the fact that it’s impossible to pick a single favorite. All while the person asking the question was simply trying to make small talk by asking in the first place.

BUT if you had to pick one favorite book that you’ve read, what would it be?

12 thoughts on “Never Ask a Reader About Their Favorite Book

  1. I agree that it is a tough question. Simply too many good books out there. But it’s slightly easier when break them into categories. Fantasy: The Princess Bride. Thriller: The Priest’s Graveyard. Classic Literature: Jane Eyre. Love story: All That Glitters by Morris (there are multiple books by this title)

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  2. It makes me crazy when people ask me that! I generally just go with my most recent knock-your-socks-off book. Today, it would have to be “The Shadow Throne” from Jennifer Nielsen.

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    • I agree! Except I usually just think…ummm. Then they forget. But I just read The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and that was by far the best book I’ve read. Probably my favorite now too.

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  3. I shall have a piece of paper in my pocket with a link to this blog post and every time somebody asks me about my favorite novel, I shall hand the paper over and say something ‘mysterious’ like “See for yourself.”

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  4. Hey! This post could not be written any better!
    Reading through this post reminds me of my old room mate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will forward this page to him.

    Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

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  5. Pingback: Writing Pet Peeves #6: Apostrophes | Write me a book, John!

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