We’re thrilled to introduce you to our new friend and literary cohort, Anne Bogel. Or, as most people know her, Modern Mrs. Darcy. Anne Will be joining us at Triangle Reads where she will moderate our headline event with Elin Hilderbrand. If you’ve not bought your ticket now is the time to do so! We’d love to meet you. And we’d love to meet your book club as well. For the first time ever the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance is opening its yearly trade show to the public and we’ve been given the incredible honor or organizing this event for them. Inviting Anne to participate was the very first decision we made. And as you’ll see from her post below, it was the right one.
I sat down to coffee with a newish friend recently. Before I could take my first sip, she urged, “Tell me your favorite novel. Or a book that’s changed your life. I want to read more, and I need some ideas.”
I love talking books with friends, but as I opened my mouth to answer, I realized that she’d just asked me an extremely personal question.
Aside from the sheer impossibility of choosing just one favorite book, her question was daunting for another reason: I felt like I’d been asked to lay my soul on the table.
A. J. Fikry, a wise man despite his fictional status, says, “You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question,What is your favorite book?” I wasn’t sure if I was ready for her to know everything she needed to know about me.
I could tell her one of my favorites is Brideshead Revisited. I’ve read it a half dozen times; it’s the only one I’ve enjoyed by Waugh. I love it because it’s haunting and complex, filled with poetry and metaphor, and because it doesn’t end happily. What do those things say about me? Or perhaps, if my friend hasn’t read it, she’d think my choice meant I was the kind of person who was hung up on some stodgy old classic?
I could tell her I adore Crossing to Safety, for its wistful story and gorgeous prose, and Stegner’s ability to conjure a moving tale out of the mundane events of ordinary life. That might brand me as a hopeless romantic, an armchair philosopher, or maybe just a snob who only reads Serious Fiction.
Since my friend wanted book recommendations, I could tell her some of my favorites that were actually published in the last decade. I loved Outlander: maybe she’d think I was the kind of person who enjoyed a good story, well told. Or maybe she’d think I was one of those women hung up on the steamy scenes featuring 18th century Scottish warriors.
I could recommend a fun, lighthearted, easy-reading novel, like Love Walked In. It’s a practically perfect romantic comedy, even if it’s probably not a book that will change your life. Maybe my friend would think I was fun, lighthearted, and easy-going. Or maybe she’d think I only ever read chick lit.
Despite my reservations, I recommended all these titles to her, and more. (And I’m happy to report she purchased All the Light We Cannot See the same afternoon we met up.) Because I love good books, and I love reading. And while reading is often viewed as a solitary act, it’s also a social one.
Readers love to connect over good books. If I read a book that changes my life, or a book that becomes a new favorite, or even a breezy novel that’s tons of fun, I can’t wait to talk about it with other readers. So when my friend asked, I answered cautiously—but how could I help but answer?
“What’s your favorite book?” is a personal question. That makes it a little dangerous, but it also opens the door to fantastic conversations and meaningful relationships. Shakespeare said that the eyes are the window to the soul, but we readers know one’s bookshelves reveal just as much.
Question for you: So what IS your favorite book? Also, aren’t you just a little bit tempted to join us at Triangle Reads?