As many times as I have had to answer that question, you think I would have the answer memorized. Yet every time I am asked, I react as though this is a trick question … or part of some Myers-Briggs-type analysis of what my books say aboutme.
What makes a favorite book, anyway? The characters?the pictures? For me, it’s all and none of those answers. It’s what I’m reading and how an author grabs me at a particular moment in time. I have always loved to read and I read lots of books, but (horror of horrors) I can’t remember every book I read as a child, even favorites. I remember lots of trips to the library even as a young girl, but I don’t remember many of those “early books.”
Trisha Yearwood has a song called “The Song Remembers When.” It’s about how hearing a song can trigger a memory about where you were, what you were doing, even if you think you’ve forgotten it. That’s how I remember my favorite books. They were part of a place or a time, each unique and treasured when remembered, but just one stop on a continuum that is still (thankfully) moving forward.
So yes, it is the pictures — of curling up in bed with every Nancy Drew book I could get my hand on. Or perusing the shelves to find another Encyclopedia Brown book to read.
… And the characters – Like Sir Percy and Lady Marguerite Blakeney in The Scarlet Pimpernel. They came before Heathcliff and Cathy (and many others I met thanks to the Bronte Sisters).
… And the memories. I loved From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg. But if it hadn’t been for playing in Goodreads today, I likely wouldn’t have thought of it.
… And the journey. I just finished reading The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper. It’s the story-within-a-story of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Book geek that I am, I was not overly fond of William Shakespeare in Ninth Grade. Sister Eileen did her best, but we all had a fairly typical response on meeting the Bard for the firs time. But I remember the giggles, and everyone “reading” a part. I read Romeo and Juliet again in college a time or two for English lit classes. It was a lot more fun sitting in the pub eating French fries and figuring out what Dr. Wilson wanted from us.
That’s the most wonderful thing about books. They let you explore places you’ve never been before and carry you back to some of the most familiar, comfortable spots you know.
My thanks to Samantha for suggesting this as Weekly Geek Challenge #3: fond memories of childhood books.