Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The One Where I Talk About Books

I started a list. It's here. This is Day 4. I am two days behind.

Day 04 - your favorite book

I want to know whose bright idea it was to come up with some of the things on this list. I can't think of many people who legitimately have ONE favorite of any of these things.

Incidentally, I was asked this question on Monday night by one of the library volunteers. You'd be surprised (or maybe not) how many times you get asked "What's your favorite book?" while working in a library.

My stock answer has always been "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This is a brilliant book, with tons of symbolism and imagery that I don't really care a lot about. Legitimately, one of my least favorite things about being an English major was that we had to analyze EVERYTHING. Why was that character named Bob Smith? Why did the author choose to put the woman in a red dress rather than a blue dress? What was the author's intent for making the main character's mother have Eggs Benedict and apple juice for breakfast the morning of the murder of the dog?

I don't actually care about any of that. Plus, there's no real way of knowing the author's intent for anything unless you actually ask them.

So I don't love "The Great Gatsby" because I know why the light at the end of the dock was green, or why Gatsby's love interest's name was Daisy or why Jordan eventually ended it with Nick. I don't really know any of these things, and I don't much care. I just know that I love the book. Plus, if you look on the cover, there are pictures of naked people in the face's eyes. (hee hee)

Asking someone like me (an English major, someone who works in a library, etc.) their favorite book is like asking Kate Gosselin which one of her kids is her favorite.

(Ew. I just referenced Kate Gosselin. EW! I just did it again.)

It's a really hard choice. I can tell you that, Gatsby aside, I've read some really awesome literature in my day. When I was in college, I had a professor who I may or may not have had a raging crush on (I did), named Michael Parker. Michael Parker (who is one of those people who must, under all circumstances, be referred to by both first and last name), taught both the creative writing class and the modern literature class I took in the Spring semester (I think) of my sophomore year.

(It should be noted that I did not take the classes because I had a raging crush on him. I didn't know him from Adam when I signed up for the classes. It just so happened it worked out that way. It was actually kind of a pain, because if I skipped the morning class, in the afternoon, he was all, "So, Sarah. Where were you this morning?" Same with skipping the afternoon class.)

Anyway, one of the books we read was "Mrs. Bridge" by Evan Connell. To this day, it remains one of my absolute favorites, and is maybe the only book whose ending was so beautiful and poignant that it made me tear up. But just a little. I'm not a wuss. My copy of "Mrs. Bridge," however, met with a horrible end in a coffee-related trucking accident. I've been unable, thus far, to find another copy with the correct cover. (The cover corresponds to and matches the cover of my copy of "Mr. Bridge.")
Even though I could go on (and on and on and on. . .) about books, I'll just mention one more that. . .I don't want to say it changed my life, per se, but it did something to me that I can't quite explain. I hated the ending, but the rest of the book was amazing and incredible to me, and I couldn't put it down in the day and a half it took me to read it.

"The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger, although a little confusing and weird in spots, was just beautiful. It's a legitimate love story that left me really quiet when it ended. I was disappointed that the story was over, and I wanted back the feeling I had when I was in the throes of it. Lovely book. The movie, however, was awful. Terrible. No chemistry between the main characters, and if you hadn't read the book, you'd have little to no idea what was going on.

As my consolation prize, I'll throw in "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov. Yes, it's the story of a man obsessed with his pre-pubescent step-daughter, but I dare you to read that book, a book of love and jealousy and crazy obsession, and tell me that you don't, at some point, just really feel for the guy. Another awesome read.

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