May 22, 2009

What is your favorite book ever? Why?

Updated to add: I realize this is a High-Falootin' List of Favorite Books. I am going to put together a list of Down n' Dirty list of reads. Total brain candy - the kind laden with articial sugar, badly photoshopped covers and S-E-X. And some mystery.
I had a lovely bookclub meeting last night where we discussed one of my favoritest, bestest ever reads ever - The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. For me, it is a read second only to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.

Ah, Margaret Atwood. There is something about her writing that reaches inside of me and plucks away at my heartstrings, then rambles into my brain and bounces around there a bit, jiggling with all those synapses that seem to lay dormant these days. I always come away from Atwood's writing feeling as if I have lived and thought something profound. John Irving also does that to me (am thinking another reading of A Prayer for Owen Meany is forthcoming.) I also recall feeling this way about The Year of Silence by Madison Smartt Bell and Island by Charles Abbott. And I remember crying at the end of the Catcher in the Rye and feeling as if I had been physically struck. Check...check ...check.... Add them to the reading list as well.

My bookclub has been doing a Year of Favorites, where we are all picking our favorite books. I have decided to perform this little exercise on my own reading list as well.

I know some folks do not like to reread books, but I always have enjoyed re-reading books - even mysteries! I have read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn about 5 times now, but each time is a different experience. Recently, I went through it and was blown away by how much of the mother's story resonated with me. It was like reading a new book because now that I am a mother myself, I understood Katie Nolan's perspective as she desperately tried to care for her children the best she knew how. In previous readings, I thought she was so unfair to Francie. And during this recent reading of the Blind Assassin, I found myself very frustrated with Iris Chase in that that she did not fight harder for her daughter.

What is a Favorite Read? It is difficult to explain what that should invoke - I suppose it is different for everyone, right? For me, a Favorite Read should continue to contribute something with each additional reading. It should not only just make me think, dammit. It should make me uncomfortable. It should encourage me to mentally re-adjust my attitudes.

I hope I never give up reading things that make me think and force me to re-evalutate. I am really opinionated and it is struggle for me to get outside of my zone. My great-aunt Peggy was such an inspiration in that area. There is this stereotype that old folks get set in their ways - Aunt Peggy defied that notion. No, she was not a rabble-rouser nor overly opinionated. Ha! She was actually very, very quiet and quite shy. However, it was her nature to read and ponder. It took some effort to get to know her, to get her to open up and I am glad I made that effort. She had some interesting insights on topics today and she had the knowledge with which to back them. Not only did she read books, up until the few months before her death, she was reading the Kansas City Star and the Washington Post every day.

Her favorite book was The Quantum Self by Danah Zohar. She showed it to me once, it was wrapped in saran wrap to protect it, a precious gem it was to her. Someone found the book while cleaning the house and I grabbed it.

I am going to add that to the list as well.

Speaking of my Aunt Peggy, here are some shots from her estate sale that I had forgotten to post. The light was just perfect, I thought.


kristen said...

My favorite book and probably the only one (aside from some I claim to have read in high school) I will ever reread, The Awakening by Kate Chopin. I don't know what it is about that book. I become a part of it every time I read it.

Your Aunt Peggy's house is beautiful. I have been to lots of estate sales and I always try to be respectful of the fact that this is someone's life drug out onto the lawn for all to rummage through. I can see how it would be so hard for you watch. It looks like whoever handled the sale did a nice job of setting it up.

flybunny said...

I have been looking for some new reads will have to check these out.

I am like you in that I really like to read something that is going to make me think and think hard. I was having a conversation with my daughters teacher about a book she read that she recommended to Audrey and how haunting it was to read it as a mother and we got into a conversation about re-reading favorite books at different points in your life and how it changes the experience of the book. Ann Frank is one that changed for me reading as a pre-teen/teen vs reading as an adult.

Hope you have a fantastic weekend. Tyler asked about "jolie" and arun yesterday. She wanted to know where they were.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

All, I did update this post! I realized this is a High-Falootin' List of Favorite Books. I am going to put together a list of Down n' Dirty list of reads. Total brain candy - the kind laden with articial sugar, badly photoshopped covers and S-E-X. And some mystery.

Kristen, I will have to check that one out!

Flybunny, we will need to figure out a weekend that works so that Tyler can get her Team Chaos fix in. :-)

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

Was that her house? It's beautiful!

jodifur said...

The Handmaids Tale by Attwood is my favorite book ever but I could not get into the Blind Assassin.

Anonymous said...

We are totally book twins. Margaret Atwood is one of my favorites, and Prayer for Owen Meany is also one of my favorite books. How interesting!

I wish I could read more often... I just can't substitute it for sleep yet!

Anonymous said...

I had the same experience rereading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as a mom. Not only did I identify with Katie for the first time, I saw Johnny with different eyes. It almost made me sad not to be able to read the same book I enjoyed so much throughout my youth. On the other hand- it was like reading a new one. Pretending to be Francie was my childhood obsession. My brother made for a lousy Neelie though.

Bethany said...

Finally getting around to the blogs. I love so many books I am not sure I can pick one favorite. I loved Owen Meany and Handmaid's Tale. Blind Assassin is on my to be read list. I'll have to think about this.