Thursday, October 11, 2007

What is your Favorite Book?

Thursday 10-11-07

Yesterday, agent Nathan Bransford asked in his blog “Who is your favorite author?” Which body of work do you drool over and wish you had written?

All I could think was… Just one? Come on. You’re kidding right?

Books, like poignant songs, signify passages of life. The favorites don’t change exactly, but evolve. The list grows. And unless you know emphatically that there is only one style, one genre you would choose to write, the list expands even further.

Demian, by Herman Hesse, is a book that burst within my consciousness like a supernova. Of course, I was nineteen. The crossroads between youth and adulthood. Each book became a new flavor to awaken my hungry spirit. As a child of ten, the books by Edward Eager (particularly Magic by the Lake) and the complete collection of Oz stories captivated me. More than that, they helped form my perception of the nature of reality. Weighty thought, I know. Yet to me that is the beauty and power of fiction. We step inside the character’s mind, heart and soul. We breathe in their perspective, revel in their growth and ultimately taste of their personal evolution.

Ever see the Star Trek Next Generation episode, The Inner Light? Captain Picard awakens to find he is living another man’s life. Although in reality his body lies unconscious on the starship deck, his consciousness experiences a day-to-day existence, which lasts for many years. At the end of the life he is living, he finds out the truth. He awakens on the deck, where just a few hours have passed. The alternate existence was not real. At least not literally. However, within his consciousness, everything he encountered was very real. The knowledge, the wisdom, even the skill developed through his days devoted to learning the flute, remained.

What is reality? Tom Clancy said, “The difference between reality and fiction is that fiction has to make sense.”

The favorite book then is linked to what we might consider our greatest emotional response. For some maybe the choice is easy. But for me… *laughs* I’m just a never-ending fount of emotional responses!

There are so many stories that explode within me. Perhaps because they present a new concept that I roll ‘round and ‘round my brain. Or because they tickled my funny bone in a new and delightful way (the classic Spit-Take Novel). Or because the characters are so real, so endearing I want to crawl inside their heads. Or even because the style of the book sweeps me away.

Anybody here have a favorite story, a favorite author or even a favorite turning point that coincided with a lovely tale?

Decades after I read “Mimsy Were the Borogroves” by Henry Kuttner (in Volume One of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame), the concepts he presented, the way he wrote the story, continues to echo deep within me.

And I still chuckle when I pull out my favorite Edward Eager books. Yup, I reread kid’s books. Go figure.

I think I might completely transform What is My Favorite Book into a new and admittedly, bizarre sentence. What is my favorite? Books!

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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Chiron, this list could go on and on;-))
As a child I loved the Anne of Greene Gables series. Then I went through the Bronte and Austen sisters, Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, et al. Anything by Caldwell Taylor. Anything by Daphne du Maurier ("Last night I dreamed I went to Manderly again")

I think I like books that make me cry as much as I like books that make me laugh.

Xoxo
Joan

Chiron O'Keefe said...

Joan,

I SO hear you. And I love Janet Taylor Caldwell! One of my favorite books of hers, Glory and the Lightning, went out of print. Grrrr.... I scour bookstores in search of the elusive copy.

Huge smiles,
Chiron

Anonymous said...

Chiron, I appreciate your list of favorites, and it makes me think of some of my own. I find that I will move from enjoying "cozies" and then to fantasy's and at other times I love romantic comedies. For me, as you have said previously, I enjoy the "get away" feelings in reading. I am able to leave my own reality and move into another adventure. Thanks for your blog. I enjoy it very much. love, Cathy

Chiron O'Keefe said...

Cathy,

I'm like that too. It really is as if each genre is a particular Flavor that I crave. Finding out what others like to read is a pleasure in itself. How fun it is to visit someone's house and check out their own personal collection!

Finding out that someone you know shares a delight in the same book is like discovering you grew up in the same town. You're no longer strangers. You speak the same language. It's the best sort of magic.

Thanks so much for your comments!

Smiles to you, :-D
Chiron