In the ‘getting to know you’ stages of meeting somebody new we sometimes ask the most inane questions as they come to mind, not because the answer may have an impact upon our perception of this person, but because we are so eager to discover every last bit of information that we can. Each question seems crucial to ask and we’re overloaded with a bevy of new information that may or may not ever be necessary to know. What your favourite colour is, or whether you prefer baths over showers never really has any consequence on anything else. There are, however, certain questions that are tremendously important…
What’s your favourite film, food, book? Ah, that last one! For book lovers it’s always a tricky one to answer. From a very young age I would disappear with a book. As my siblings played in the garden, and the sun poured in through the windows, I would bury myself in my obscenely large and furry beanbag and would not emerge for hours. At night I would hold a book light under my covers so that I wouldn’t be caught by my parents and in horrible, boring math class I would read instead of doing algebra. And yes, if anyone is curious, I did not do well in math as a result. I suppose it’s fortunate that I have never wanted to become an accountant.
So, I have always had books as my companions- as many who work with words do and have done –and for that reason it is almost impossible to decide on only one book as my champion. There are books that I love because they are bound up in some of my first memories of being aware of myself as a reader- books like Jane Eyre and Watership Down – but that fail to make the grade. There are books that hold sentimental value and there are those that I studied intensely in the past, whose pages excite nostalgia and a brief scent of academic panic. There are books from my childhood that I still sometimes return to, and there are the books that were given to me as gifts, with thoughtful dedications on their first leaves.
Though the question can be quite a daunting one, any avid book lover relishes the opportunity to share their beloved novels with others. I have found it impossible to condense my literary loves into a singular book, but for the sake of this post I’ve narrowed it down to my top three…
1) For me, Angela Carter will always be my victor. Introduced to her writing in my first year of university, she quickly became my muse, her writing so alive and vibrant that I felt a sharp loss when I discovered that she had died the year that I was born. Her book Nights at the Circus follows the characters Fevvers and Jack halfway across the world, and is an awesome display of magical realism and surrealist imagery
2) One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is synonymous with what I would one day like to achieve in my writing. An epic tale spanning generations and wars, and the creation and decay of an entire world
3) I was first introduced to Nabokov in high school, where his novel Lolita was my literature teacher’s favourite book. Impressed with his verbose writing style I went on to read his other works including Pale Fire, which is a fantastical mix of both poetry and prose and follows Charles Kinbote, the friend and colleague of the fictional poet, John Shade