I was recently challenged to list seven of my favorite books, and that got me thinking. What makes a book a favorite? Here are some of my thoughts (in no particular order) about what makes something my favorite fiction.
- A book that struck me in a particular way at a particular time in my life. One of my favorite books is Watership Down. I read it as a teen and it was so unusual and captivating that it stayed with me. It’s most fictional aspects (talking rabbits, one with strong premonitions) resonated with me in ways I can’t explain. I returned to this book on a regular basis to read it again. Later, as a mother, one of my children’s favorite books was basically a copy of Watership Down, which I found interesting.
- A book that makes me think – during and after. Sometimes this thoughtfulness that a book provokes is in the form of a mystery that I can’t quite solve – but almost, sometimes it’s the ideas put forth, and sometimes it’s the sheer creativity of the author in what he or she created. For this reason, I love The Book Thief. Who would have thought of having Death be your narrator? Also, in this category would fit anything by Agatha Christie.
- A book that makes me smile. In this category I would list books with lovable characters who find a way to succeed and overcome. Some of my favorites for this reason are A Man Named Ove and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. This is probably my favorite category, but it certainly overlaps with books that make me think.
- A book I can’t wait to recommend to a friend. There are those books we read that disappoint us when they end simply because we’re not ready to leave them behind. I became so invested in the Harry Potter books (I read the last several out loud to my kids), that I didn’t want them to end. I loved how the series ended and found myself rereading the last few chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, just to savor that wonderful conclusion. And when a book does this to you, one way for it to continue is for you to tell a friend about it. When she finishes reading, you can talk about it and savor it together, making it all that much more satisfying. I’ve done this with Secret Keeper (Kate Morton) and Sister (Rosamund Lupton). These books just have to be talked about and shared.
As a note: I purposely left non-fiction books out of this list. My favorite, oft-read books, are non-fiction – the scriptures. They fit in my life for an entirely different reason – giving me hope and a lift in my life.
So what makes a book a favorite of yours? I’d love to know – along with what some of those books are.