Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things

We all play favorites. My favorite pizza in Seattle is definitely Big Mario's on Capitol Hill. My favorite coffee shop? The lovely Cafe Allegro up the alley from our U-District store. My favorite color is the dark, darkest purple before you lose the hue altogether to black.

But when I'm asked to select my favorite book... I start tripping over the seeming significance of favorites. I'll say 'Well, what kind of book? Favorite book of poems? Favorite novel?' and even then, I'll say, 'Favorite book of poems that I've read recently? Or are you talking All-Time Favorite?'

An All-Time Favorite is basically a Personal Classic. And conferring that small award is not a conscious decision. We don't finish a great book, switch on some epic orchestral theme and ceremoniously apply a seal or ribbon to it. Our Personal Classics earn that title slowly, in the back of our minds.

One day your friend will be telling you about his relationship problems, and you'll realize how much he is like the character of a book you read a few years ago. You give him advice based on that character. Or a different friend invites you out for drinks, but you tell her you are exhausted, then stay up until 3am reading. Those are your All-Time Favorite books.

Here are a few of mine: The Sea and the Bells by Pablo Neruda, transl. by William O'Daly, a gorgeous bilingual edition; The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera; Man and Camel by Mark Strand; and The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis, because I could re-read the passage about the Woods Between the Worlds every single day and never find it less wonderful.


**Share your favorite book with us in the comments!**

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