It was pointed out to me today that I frequently refer to several books as being my favourite. This has got me thinking. What book would actually be my favourite? And by what criteria do I define it as thus?
I think it would be reasonable to say that a favourite book should be one that you've read more than once. Of those that I say are my favourite, that leaves me with Cloudstreet, Jasper Jones and Wuthering Heights. That being said, there are many books which I would gladly read again had I the time, and had I not eleventy-million unread books and unwritten stories on my mind. (Which reminds me of the scene in Gilmore Girls where Rory steps into one of the giant libraries at either Harvard or Yale- possibly Harvard during season...err.. three- and immediately berates herself for being such a slow reader, because she will never read all the books housed in that library, never mind those housed in the many others at Harvard. This is, of course, absurd, as the girl reads everything.) (And yes, I still like Gilmore Girls. I like picking the references, and sometimes copying the outfits.)
So, criterion number two: Favourite books compel me to contact the author/ see the author live. Obviously, I could try to contact Emily Bronte but I haven't demonstrated any clairvoyant abilities to the present day. That leaves me with Jasper Jones, Cloudstreet, The Shifting Fog and Remember Me. Yes, I am a fickle creature, and how much I like the author as a person is very much a factor in how long my favourite book may stay my favourite.
Criterion number three: Favourite books keep me up all night reading. This leaves me with Jasper Jones, The Distant Hours and The Woman in White. It's probably also a good idea to keep in mind the fact that my memory comes in drips and drabs. I can only really remember those books I have continued to love in the last three or four years. And I've loved a lot of books.
Finally, I think that in order to define a particular book as your favourite, you need to want to narrow it down to one. Personally, I'm really liking having several favourites. I am liking the variety this is demonstrating about my personality, and about my interests at different times. Obviously, there is one book that has appeared in every category and yes that would probably be the current fore-runner... and not just because an essay on it got me an HD in first semester last year.
So yes, if we're ever speaking and I start talking about "my favourite book", perhaps for confusion's sake, it may be wise to ask me of which book I am speaking. Or maybe, you can see if you can guess. 99% guarantee that it won't be one of the ones listed in this post.
Catcher in the Rye does not appear, for example.