All writers are asked: What’s your favorite book? I dread this question because I know that my answer won’t be entirely truthful. I’ll either dive into my store of childhood favorites, or pick the one I’ve read recently. There are books I cherish for the memories they evoke, ones I think of as favorites because they were the first of a kind to me (first mystery, first nineteenth century novel). There are books I wish I’d written, books I wish I could read again for the first time (War and Peace – I wouldn’t know that Prince Andrei dies). MissDemeanors, what’s your favorite book? Cate:My favorite book depends on when I am asked. At the moment, I would say The Catcher In The Rye because I read it when I was coming of age and I am currently feeling nostalgic. But the correct answer is it depends. Susan:That is a little like asking me which is my favorite child. If I were stuck on an island with one book, I’d probably pick Jane Eyre, which has always so inspiring to me, even though I think she should have just moved in with Mr. Rochester. But when I think of the book I’ve probably read the most over the course of my life, it would probably be Agatha Christie’s A Murder is Announced. Paula Munier (we’re delighted to have you here this week!):There are so many ways to define “favorite” books. If you mean my favorite books as a child, I’d say the Bobbsey Twins. If you mean the books that rocked my world as a young woman, then I’d say The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris and The Diary of Anne Frank and Emerson’s essays and Nora Ephron’s Heartburn and The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving and The Color Purple by Alice Walker. If you mean the books I read over and over again, then I’d say those by Alice Hoffman and Elizabeth Berg and Jane Austen and Louise Penny and Shakespeare and all my favorite poets (this is a long list, topped by Emily Dickinson and Pablo Neruda and Maya Angelou and Mary Oliver and on and on). If you mean the books that inspire me as an artist, then I’d say those written by Anne Lamott and Mark Nepo and Julia Cameron and Natalie Goldberg. if you mean my favorite books that I’m reading right now, then I’d say Louise Penny’s The Great Reckoning and Terry Tempest Williams’ When Women Were Birds and Mary Oliver’s Upstream. If you’re asking me my favorite book as an agent, then it’s the one I just sold. But if you’re asking me my favorite book as a writer, then it’s the one I’m writing. At least when the writing is going well. Robin:That’s a tough one! Flowers For Algernon is a book I’ve read so many times that my first copy literally fell apart. I held it together with a rubber band until I started losing pages and finally bought a new copy. The the intimacy of the journal format with the use of character voice to heighten the tension just kills me every time. Murder On The Orient Express made me want to write mysteries. It’s the book that really drove home the lesson that characters drive the story, and that particular cast is so vividly drawn. It also showed me that an author can have fun with a theoretically gruesome subject. The first time I read it was right after I read The Exorcist so I responded to the light-hearted change of pace. If you can call murder light-hearted.
Alexia:My favorite book is still Alice in Wonderland. Alice was the first independent female protagonist I encountered. She had adventures, she solved her own problems, she had smarts and wasn’t afraid to use them. She didn’t sit around like a helpless ninny waiting for some prince to come rescue her. Michele:If I have to choose one book, it would be Pride and Prejudice, which I resisted as a high school senior and felt hopelessly in love with. For years, I read it every spring in honor of Danny Dwyer, the teacher who insisted we read it and died tragically before the age of thirty in an auto accident not long after. I consider it a brilliant romantic comedy and Jane Austen most definitely a woman before her time, who also had to struggle with the woes of publishing. What about the rest of you? Favorite books? Or too many to name?