One of my most dreaded questions whenever someone finds out that I’m a reader is “so what’s your favorite book?” or its brother question, “so who’s your favorite author?” I have absolutely no idea how to answer this question, because for most of my life, I’ve never had an answer. I have someone I could probably point to as a favorite author now, but a favorite book? With a gun to my head, I’m not sure I could choose just one.
I can safely say, I think, that M.C.A. Hogarth, oft spoken of both here and on the Youtube channel, is my favorite author. I’ve liked many of her books, some in different categories of genre, some radically different and others more nominally. But Micah’s the closest I’ve ever come. Very quickly after her would be Lyn Thorne-Alder, who also happens to be a dear friend of mine. (I call Micah a friend as well, but Lyn let me live in her attic. I think she gets a preferential reference for that one. 😉 ) These two authors have a way with description and character that I can only ever hope to come close to. If I can create worlds half as engrossing as any one of theirs, I’ll call myself a success.
But the trouble is, when people ask you that question, they’re really looking for an author they’ve heard of. And while Micah and Lyn’s names may be well-known in certain circles, that doesn’t mean the rest of the reading populace knows about them. What they want to hear is Stephen King, or Neil Gaiman, or J.K. Rowling. They want something they can assign an idea to. When I say M.C.A. Hogarth, they blink at me and ask me to explain what she writes. How can I wrap up all that is the Pelted universe to someone, into a package they’ll understand. The best I could ever do was “think Star Trek, except fuzzier.” And that’s an awful description.
I suppose I should just pick someone, that’s more “mainstream.” Chuck Wendig’s done a bunch of Star Wars stuff, yeah? Maybe I’ll start saying him. I like Chuck.
What really kills me is asking me what my favorite book is. Because this isn’t something I can just freehand. I can’t grab a name from a list of well-known names and just throw that out there. For whatever reason, this seems like more of a commitment than the other question. Can I really take all these books–the probably hundreds of books on my bookshelf, plus all the ones I’ve read and don’t own–and narrow it down to one book? It’s like the old thought exercise of “if you were stranded on a desert island and you could only take three things with you, what would they be?” What are the three books you’d want with you for the rest of time?
I don’t know. Can’t I just bring my Kindle? I think that sounds like a good idea.
Again, I could pull out THE GHOST OF OPALINA, OR NINE LIVES by Peggy Bacon–but again, the category of people who know about that book are slim, given how long it’s been out of print. (Of course, they taunted me with reprinting it a while back, and then the whole thing fell through and I’m not sure I’ve ever been more heartbroken.) I could point to MINDTOUCH, one of the few books I’ll willingly and without hesitation re-read over and over again, because it makes me so calm and happy. Again, the same problem. But if I start looking at other books–for instance, HOGFATHER, or READY PLAYER ONE, or UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE–I think of the title and then immediately remember nineteen other books I love equally. What was wrong with them? Why didn’t they make the cut? Was there something lesser about them? No, it’s just that when you say “pick a favorite,” that inevitably cuts out a whole bunch of things that might have also been good. This is why I don’t like favorites.
Also, I see why parents shouldn’t pick favorites with their kids. Ugh. (Though I suppose I’m allowed to be my parents’ favorite. I’m only competing with the cats.)
So in the end, I just make strange hand gestures and whine at whoever asked me the question, and come up with a book I’ve read recently that I liked. So the last time I got this question, it was THE BOY WHO COULD SEE DEMONS by Carolyn Jess-Cooke. Awesome book, truly amazing, really blew me away. My favorite book? No, probably not.
But I don’t appear to have a favorite. So in the end, I think I’ll just pick one, and whoever asks can deal with the fact that they’ve likely never heard of the book or the author. Maybe I’ll introduce them to something new.
… I think I’ll go with CAM GIRL by Elliot Wake/Leah Raeder. That’ll shake things up a bit.