Thursday, January 13, 2011

The 30-Day Book Meme: Day 6

Day 06 - Favorite book of your favorite series OR your favorite book of all time

Is it just me, or does this feel like we're repeating ourselves? It's been way too many years since I read several Nancy Drew mysteries in a row, so it's hard to talk about which book from that series might qualify as my favorite. I can remember a little thrill of danger whenever I looked at the picture of Nancy Drew inside the moving van in The Secret of the Old Clock, and something about The Mystery of Larkspur Lane has always drawn me to that book. But I also loved The Hidden Staircase and The Message in the Hollow Oak and The Clue in the Diary. And let's not forget The Mystery at Lilac Inn

I could fudge a little and pick an Agatha Christie novel, but I run into the same trouble there. I mean, first I'd have to decide whether I liked Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot better, and how do you make a choice like that? Okay, I may lean a little toward Miss Marple in general, but Hercule was so delightfully flawed in his utter perfection, he's hard to resist. 

So do I move instead to my favorite book of all time? How do I pick that? 

So many books hold special places in my heart. 

I have the best memories of going to the library with my mom the summer she realized I was too grown up for kids books. We wandered through the stacks while she showed me books she'd read and loved, and I read and loved almost all of them myself. Since then, I've read Edna Ferber's Giant several times, and I'm still fascinated by the book. I think it may qualify as my favorite of the books my mom helped me choose at the library that day and certainly ranks right up there near the top of my list. But is it my very favorite book of all time?  

If I chose the book I've read the most in my lifetime, I'd have to say it's Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Yes, I know it's a horribly insulting depiction of African-Americans and paints an unrealistically rosy picture of the lives they lived, and for that I truly do apologize for including this book on my list. But my love affair with it exists in spite of all that. I've never considered GWTW a romance, and still don't. But I do consider it a fascinating character study in self-delusion on several levels. Scarlett O'Hara was a deeply flawed character whose reality didn't even come close to matching anyone else's and I go back to Gone with the Wind as a prime example of how to write an unreliable narrator and make her sympathetic enough to keep readers connected.

And besides, I thought Clark Gable was hot. Even if he was dead long before I ever saw the movie or read the book. 

And what about Penmarric and Cashelmara by Susan Howatch? Or Rosamunde Pilcher's The Shell Seekers?  Or Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse? That book was recommended to me several years ago by Mrs. Wilson, my youngest daughter's 6th grade teacher. It's a poem cycle that reads like a novel. The language is sparse but beautiful, and Hesse wrings emotion from me with every line. Every time I read it, I'm amazed by what she accomplishes with so few words. 

I don't know. I can't choose. In fact, I could probably add several more books to this list if I had the time. 

What about you? What's your favorite book in your favorite series? Or do you have a favorite book of all time? I'd love to hear about yours.

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