For me, one of the surest markers that a book has wormed its way into my heart is something I'm going to call rereadability. With so many splendid books out there, it's difficult to weigh them against each other, especially when I am so easily pleased by anything with the semblance of a plot. However, certain titles have burrowed into my soul. I crave them. I miss them. I turn to them again and again. They are among my dearest friends.
For this post I have set certain parameters for myself. The first is that I will not include any series. It doesn't seem fair to compare a stand-alone book with a set that had many volumes to improve upon its style and perfect its tale. Thus I will not rank Harry Potter, which is less like a book to me anyway and more like a favorite cousin. Another series I would like to mention is called The Half-Blood Chronicles. It is a marvelous tale of elves and dragons, but it is woefully incomplete. Andre Norton, who was co-authoring it, died. Mercedes Lackey has implied that she intends to finish it, but that woman is busier with more projects than Jerry Bruckheimer. While I'm at it, I'd like to give a nod to Elfquest, which is especially hard to classify in terms of favorite books because it is a comic.
My second restriction is that I have decided not to rate books that I have only read once. I don't feel like I know them well enough to pass any sort of judgement on them. The two that I considered listing which were set aside for this reason are The Once and Future King by T. H. White and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Both are hulking behemoths that take true commitment to power through on the first run. I really want to revisit them, but so far I haven't had the time.
With that said, on to my favorite books.
6. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
What can I say? That last line gets me every time.
5. Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman
Sweet, innocent, teenage love stories will tickle me forever. Especially if they include characters like Grandison Parr.
4. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty & the Beast by Robin McKinley
I can't help but love a book that combines one of my favorite fairy tales with characters who are so dimensional and flawed and...human.
3. Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
While perhaps not as well written as Beauty or Enthusiasm, my sensibilities are no match for Danica and Zane. Especially Zane.
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
So much is said in praise and censure of this beautiful piece that I scarcely desire to add to the heap of testimonials. Most important for me, I suppose, is the fact that this is the book that sparked so much of who I am. Here began my love of Jane Austen. Here began the schism in brain and personality which left me living half now and half in Regency England.
1. Persuasion by Jane Austen
Perhaps it isn't fair that two books by the same author make my list, but that's the way it is sometimes. Whichever other books jostle each other to be in my favor, whichever fluctuating order they fall into, this one will always sit here. I know it like I know myself. When I am happy, I snuggle with it and bask in its glow. When I am sad, I turn to it desperately as a dying man turns to water in the desert. When I am lonely, when I am angry, when I am apathetic, I turn to it. It doesn't matter. It's my comfort book. When I see my mom reading it, I'll ask her which part she's at. It doesn't matter what she says, my first response is always, "Oh! That's my favorite part." And it's true. I know it so well that I just pick it up wherever a bookmark has been left in it and carry on like I just left off reading a moment ago. It is a part of me.
Listening to: "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)" by Looking Glass
Reading: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert