Monday, 24 August 2009

What is your favourite book? And why?

The Times is conducting a poll on-line to find out the sixty best-loved novels published since 1949. Should you wish to register your vote, go to timesonline.co.uk/books and then click on The Cheltenham Literature Festival - for this festival is sixty years old this October and the list of the best sixty novels will be published to coincide with the festival in October. But this got me thinking about reading and books and enjoyment.
I find I love a particular book so much that I read it several times over. But what I love and when seems to depend upon my mood, the state of my health - lots of things. Is this just me, or are you the same?
For example - if I am really down and under the weather and my brain seems incapable of reading anything properly - then I will pick up "Anne of Green Gables", which I must have read twenty times since I bought it at Montgomery's house on Prince Edward Island. Each time I read it (and it is very easy to read as I almost know it off by heart) I picture the house and its grounds and the lovely holiday we had in that area. On the other hand, if I am in a real reading mood and having nothing new to devour - I may well go for Sebastian Foulks's "Birdsong" or Evelyn Waugh's "Bridehead Revisited" - or even a book of the poems of RS Thomas. With me, so much depends upon circumstance. Anything by Anita Brookner I could read again and again.
So here is the task I set you all for today.
For whatever reason you choose to imagine - you are in solitary confinement for a whole day. You may take one book with you - it could be a World Atlas, a book of Poetry, a novel, a travel book - anything at all (cookery book?). Which book are you going to choose to be your day's companion. I would love to know.
I will register my own, here and now. A whole day cut off from the world would most likely see me reading - yet again - John Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley" . Why? (yes I would like to know why from you as well) - I find it enchanting, poignant (JS died not so very long after writing it), funny, and - to a doggy person like me - delightful.
What would you choose?

28 comments:

Kim said...

Pat, too hard just one book!!! I of course would leave everything and take a whole suitcase of books. Like you what appeals depends on my mood and how heavy I want my reading to be at the time. I'm a sucker for a few different authors but have to say Colleen McCullough's 'First Man In Rome'series (pick any of these novels they're just amazing!) would do for me. I love the history of them. That they are based on factual accounts and real people is the pull for me, and Roman life was just so interesting in terms of politics, scandal, intrigue, war and conquest. It's all there in one novel. What more could I ask for a days relaxation. However, if you have a day I could list more, LOL!

Totalfeckineejit said...

Weaver, I am so jealous of your love of books and they way you would have a book to suit each mood.To have read the same book several times over is another amazement.Posts like this stab home how bad a reader I am, how little I read and everything that I am missing out on.It is a mental block of some sort and I cannot break it.Of the woefully few number of books I have read ,I would chosse for a novel 'On the road 'by Jack Kerouac, because I read it in less than 3 months , loved it empathised withthe characters and would have loved to be 'on the road' with them.For poetry it would be 'Birthday letters' by Ted Hughes an unbelievable piece of writing, that despite the nagging feeling you were rubbernecking a car crash was beautiful, real, universal.But let Seamus Heaney do the talking here, he says, to read Birthday Letters is to experience the psychic equivalent of "the bends".it takes you down to levels of pressure where the undertruths of sadness and endurance leave you gasping.....The poems give the impression of utterance, avalanching towards vision.' Wow!!
But my favourite book of all has barely a word in it it is my treasured book of photographs by Andrew Moore simply titled 'RUSSIA'and is beautiful beyond mere words.

steven said...

what a question weaver!!! most bloggy people i've come across read volumes and would be hard-pressed to come up with just one. but i love the challenge of it so i'll say that today i would take mervyn peake's gormenghast trilogy in one enormous volume. a strange, crazed, sometimes bizarre, beautiful world unto itself in which the machinations and beauties of this world are ever so gently twisted to create an extraordinary place that i have visited in its entirety three times. the first time while walking in the south of england. the second while working in a factory in toronto. the third after my entire world changed at the age of thirty three. the fourth is coming up this fall after i have finished reading "the hobbit" for the seventh time!!! thanks for this weaver. have a lovely day in the dale. steven

Heather said...

This is an impossible task, Weaver. Like you I need the book to suit the mood and have read some books many times. If I am feeling under the weather I usually go for an inspiring mixed media or textile book, and revel in the illustrations planning what I will do when I feel better. I always have a stack of books beside the bed and another by my armchair. There are so many authors whose work I enjoy but Elizabeth Jane Howard comes to mind to represent all my favourites.

Dominic Rivron said...

Finnegans Wake. Read it outloud (it's funny), ponder it, never get to the bottom of it.

(And, as for getting to the end, who wants to actually finish a book they enjoy reading?)

riverrun...

Karen said...

On the Road with Charles Kuralt. I absolutely loved his stories of extraordinary ordinary people throughout the country... I still miss him.

Golden West said...

The favorite books of my childhood were The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I prefer books that take me to a place and time I'd otherwise never get to visit.

willow said...

What I read does depend on my frame of mind, just like what I'm in the mood to eat. I'm often reading several books at once and pick up which ever I'm in the mood for at the moment. I also like to reread my favorites.

20th Century Woman said...

I am an Old Woman, new to your blog. It's really almost impossible, the task you set, but I am trying. I find that, though I call myself 20th Century Woman, all my possible picks are 19th century novels. Perhaps the 20th century woman would mostly read 19th century novels. Perhaps they were actually better novelists in the 19th century. Anyhow, I think my choices are kind of boring and standard, and I'll bet they reflect the choices that come out in the Times. In my childhood I read all of Jane Austen, and I still go back to her when trouble comes. They are comfort books. And I guess (boring) Pride and Prejudice is my favorite, though I love all of them. And Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Those cheer me up, make me laugh and are full of truth. Could I have the whole of the Barsetshire series and pretend they are one book? If not, I'll take The Warden. And then, I must have read Middlemarch at least 6 times. Okay, one final possibility, and I racked my brains for something from the 20th centruy, Carol Shields The Stone Diaries. Whew.

Elizabeth said...

Dear Weaver,
First of all, I love your new little photo. It looks as if you were at some sort of celebration?
As for favorite books --quite impossible!
High on the list would be "A Hundred Years of Solitude" since while reading it one dwellsin a quite different world.
W.G Sebald's "Austerlitz" was complex and beautiful and rich.
Mollie Panter-Downe's "Good Evening, Mrs.Craven" was pitch perfect .
It's like colors and flowers and music and one's friends --each fills a particular niche or reflects a need.
I'm gardening like crazy at my son's house in the country.
What joy!

n2theblue said...

i also read according to moods and seasons. mostly these days, having witnessed enough of sorrow and suffering in this life, i tend to read and reread books that make me smile. i like to read anthony trollope, for his wonderful way with words, his tendency to uplift and provide happy endings. (and i've just discovered in our public library a locally-published collection of his short stories, none of which i had ever read.) p.g. wodehouse makes me chuckle; i've reread austen's books many times over the years; eliz. vonArnim's "the enchanted april;" e.m. forster's "a room with a view;" "three men in a boat" (jerome jerome) is wonderful in it's absurdity-mixed-with-history; (do you see a trend here? mostly 19th/early 20th century british lit.) oh, and then all the james herriot books. one american piece that comes to mind is "the country of the pointed firs" by sarah orne jewett [you might like this, weaver] in fact, if my solitary day were today, i think i might choose this.

~i also have reread "anne of green gables" many times -- have you read the others in the series? there are, i think, 6 or 7 more that tell the story of anne's entire life.

Titus said...

Following Dominic, I can go for just one. Moby-Dick; or, The Whale.
I never stop reading it.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Tomorrow I shall compile a blog library shelf with all your chosen books on it - then we can all take the list to our local libraries and start catching up on our reading. Thanks for your comments.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Ah, Weaver, if I could only choose one book it would have to be The Wind in the Willows.

Why? I find it uplifting, inspiring, and funny. The seasons are in there, from the exhilaration of spring to winter in the wild wood. It has friendship, loyalty, eccentricity, the enjoyment of the little things of everyday life, and also a strong sense of transcendent wondrousness.

Coastcard said...

I have tried to rise to your challenge and have written a post on the subject here.

Thank you, Weaver, for your kind words on my Oxwich post.

Hildred and Charles said...

Just one??? Oh my, - in that case I think it would be Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea. It never fails to lift my spirits and give me a sense of self.

BT said...

For me, it's easy. I am not a massive reader, but when I worked for a while in London, I read on the train and in the evenings and at lunch time, so devoured quite a few. My all time favourite you have already mentioned Weaver, is Sebastian Fawkes's 'Birdsong'. I just couldn't put it down. I have a particular interest in the first world war too. As an actress I was in a play called 'The Accrington Pals' which had a profound effect on all of us who took part in it. The writing is superb and the characters are so well drawn. I recommended it to several people and they all loved it just as much as I do. I would thoroughly enjoy spending one whole day re-reading it.

Oh, Ok, The Complete Works of Shakespeare come next!

jeannette stgermain said...

I agree with Kim, one book is too hard! And then I have a few favorites on several subjects:)
Like you new header - so pretty. And your new profile pic is very distinguished, friend:)

gleaner said...

Like you, it all depends on my mood and other things but there are some books I love so much that I can read repeatedly, often just opening up at any page and reading sections, not necessarily reading from front to back. For many years Milan Kundera's books were my favourites to re-read sections anytime. However these days I would choose any book written by Hermann Hesse - I love his writing style and his ability to take you into the depths of the human psyche and the struggles to live an authentic spiritual life. Hmmm, so my choose is any Hermann Hesse book and if not, for pure enjoyment and ease of reading I would choose Wind in the Willows.

I note the Times poll is novels published since 1949 - so Milan Kundera would be my choice for the Times poll.

BTW, Weaver, in regards to your comments on Eryl's post, I definitely think you would love a small ipod...not for just for listening to music, but more so for the poetry, books and radio broadcasts you can listen to at anytime.
Oh dear, where is your old photo, you look completely different in this photo...love the new blog header.

Gramma Ann said...

Weaver:

I think my book of choice would be any book by Jane Austen. I haven't read "Persuasion" yet, so I guess that would be my choice of reading for a day of solitary confinement. Why? Because, Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors, so anything she wrote, I enjoy reading. I think that will be one of my choice of the month books to read in October. I already have the September book of choice picked out.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Oh, what a tough question. Can I take five of them? The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. or To Kill a Mockingbird or...

What a great idea for a post. Can I borrow it?

Linda said...

Hello Weaver,
I would like a book with lyrics or poems... maybe Robert Frost, maybe William Blake, Shel Silverstein, William Wordsworth, e.e.cummings, Alfred Tennyson, Alfred Noyes, Wm. Shakespeare, Robert Browning...... A collection of poems by famous poets.... that would be the book! I would spend the day trying to recite the poems or meaningful parts of poems, reading them over and over. Very wonderful idea!

Loon said...

What a delicious challenge you've issued. Of course, having only one book is impossible. Reading is one of my greatest pleasures, and the matching book to need of the moment and mood is essential. Book that would withstand the most reads? Moby Dick. Little-known book I think deserves the widest audience: Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog, by Ted Kerasote. It's an example of what you're asking about--picked up at random from the airport bookstore before being imprisoned in a metal can for 7 hours. So lucky!

mrsnesbitt said...

John Wain's "Strike the Father Dead" awesome. I would urge everybody to read Ian McKewans "The Daydreamer" by far the best book I ever read to 10year olds.

Jenn Jilks said...

I love Anne, too. Haven't read it recently. My actor-son spent two years performing in PEI in the musical "Anne & Gilbert - the musical", and had a grand time singing and dancing his way through the summer.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for the amazing list of books which I have put on my blog for today! You certainly do a lot of reading between you. If any more come in I will add them - in the meantime - get reading - and yes - if any one wants to copy the idea and get another list then please do so - there's plenty of room on the bookshelf.

patteran said...

At this moment in time, 'The Sea, The Sea' by Iris Murdoch. In a few minutes, something different. What a decision...

Janice Thomson said...

So many to pick from...hmmm let's see...Kabir first and foremost, followed closely by Emerson's Essays, Khalil Gibran, Kerouac, Neruda just to name a few... :)