What is your favorite book?

When my favorite book is mentioned – in print, online, or on the radio – I feel a tingling sensation in my chest, and a light dizziness in my head, as if the name of the girl I have a crush on has been whispered.

My favorite book is One Hundred Years of Solitude by the Columbian Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I first read it when I was 18. It impressed me so much that I went on to read it eight times in three years.

One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of the founding, growth, and demise of the mythical town of Macondo, through the family history of the peculiar Buendias. I see the story as an unintended, condensed version of the history of civilization, stressing the significance of heredity.

What impressed me

Reading One Hundred Years of Solitude for the first time was a revelation. I had read little before it – it was only my second or third great book. And it was unlike any other story I had heard. I marveled at the…

  • third-person omniscient narrative that told a concentrated story, without transitions, using a cool, detached tone
  • magic realism, which was really magical
  • stunning imagery
  • peculiar characters
  • condensed dialog
  • unforgettable message

For a while after reading One Hundred Years of Solitude I could not go back to reading other novels. Their third person limited narrative seemed slow. Their descriptions seemed lengthy. Their dialog rambling. Their authors amateurs. It was as if after being accustomed to subsisting on wine I had to go back to drinking water.

9 curious facts about my favorite book and me

  1. I compare all books I read with my favorite book, and I usually find them lacking. Not in terms of their their quality, but of their sincerity and lucidity.
  1. I write like my favorite book is written, at first consciously, and then, when I realize it and try not to, unconsciously. It is an invisible presence, a benevolent spirit always looking over my shoulder and whispering to me the same sentences that I know only too well, and that I end up rewriting, in different forms.
  2. My favorite book is like a best friend. It is so much like me that when I read it I see in it my reflection.
  3. I love many books, but I have only one favorite book. I feel this need to have only one favorite book and not more.
  1. My favorite book dictates the genre I want to write, as well as the genre I enjoy to read the most.
  1. Each time I reread my favorite book I discover something new, that I had somehow missed before. This time it was the realization that I was pronouncing Buendia incorrectly (BuENdia instead of BuenDIA).
  1. While I read certain scenes I have the definitive certainty that the author had lived those scenes himself. When little Aureliano was taken to see ice, I somehow knew Gabriel had seen ice as a boy and had been impressed. My supposition turned out to be true: when Gabriel lived in Aracataca with his grandparents, his grandfather had indeed taken him to see ice.
  2. The inked pages of my favorite book have a curious smell, unlike the smell of any other book I smelled so far. It is the smell of melancholy and solitude.
  3. I feel a connection between me and Gabriel. Not friendship, not even admiration. But a profound sense of understanding, as if in another life we had been together accomplices to a murder.

Tell me your favorite book and I will tell you what sort of fellow you are.

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63 thoughts on “What is your favorite book?

  1. I love failing forward by John Maxwell…I think it’s one of the books that continues to help me evolve. Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer is in the mix of favorites

  2. The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht. Relatively new book, so a replacement. I read A LOT, but this was the first book that, while reading a certain section, I had to put it down as my mind was completely blown. That had never happened before. It was like I had to digest it before I could move on, while usually I’m killing myself to see what happens next.

    I enjoy the way it was written, with almost Hemingway-ish realism and purpose. It’s a beautifully written novel and when I recommend It to people I get goosebumps. When I try and describe the story I am left lacking the vocabulary to accurately describe the feeling it left me with.

    Prior to reading this book it was Flights of Love: Stories by Bernard Schlink. Fyi. 🙂

    1. “It’s a family saga that takes place in a fictionalized province of the Balkans. It’s about a female narrator and her relationship to her grandfather, who’s a doctor. It’s a saga about doctors and their relationships to death throughout all these wars in the Balkans.”

      Sounds interesting! After I’m done with books on the Middle Ages I will check it out.

      PS: I consider growing a beard. What do you think? Will it go well with the hat?

      1. I am a huge fan of the beard. If there ever was an accessory to an awesome hat, it’s a beard. The relatively un removable accessory.

  3. Heh, curiously I just read 100 years of solitude for the first time a few weeks ago (and wrote about it in my blog!). Although I can’t claim it is my favourite, nor that it was one of the first ‘great’ books that I read, it certainly left a very deep impression on me. At first I wasn’t convinced, but with every page I was more and more captivated by its magic and its dense symbolism. I intend to reread it and I’m sure I’ll discover many new things when I do.

  4. Funny, your voice sounds a lot like his, too, and not just because English isn’t your native tongue.
    Old books, like old men, have an odor about them. Don’t worry about that too much.
    It’s a stretch to imagine you and Garcia as partners in crime, even in a past life.
    Great post. As always, I enjoy them.

  5. I have nominated you for the Leibster Award. You truly deserve it. Please look at my blog for details cheers Judy 🙂
    judysp.wordpress.com

      1. No sorry couldn’t be without Sweetie. He’s too much part of the family but you are welcome any time. I have raved about your blog to all my friends even the ones that aren’t bloggers. I think you are great. 🙂

  6. my favorite book is a torn & tattered ancient edition of jane eyre. i find charlotte bronte’s works more appealing than jane austen’s ever were to me.

    but a part of me wants to name all the other books i love too. how do you pick a favorite? they are all so different, all so gripping!

    1. A favorite book is really like a husband. You can only have one.

      All the other books you love are boyfriends. You can have as many as you like.

      PS: Can you play the tambourine gypsy girl, like your sister Esmeralda?

      1. i must refrain from having boyfriends when i have a husband. or at least i hope that when he smashes the vase when we wed, it doesnt shatter into a thousand pieces but stay as a whole.

        then i’d be free after a year.

        i pretend i do, but i dont. i play the violin though.

      1. i’ve not gotten to that book yet, but one haruki murakami book that i have read and have come to love, is ‘dance dance dance’. it took my breath away, you might wanna check that out too, fedora boy.

  7. 100 years of solitude is next on my to-read list. My favourite book, however, is The History of Love, by Nicole Kraus – which I have already mentioned. I first read it when I was a teenager, and although I feel that many books have impressed me more than that one, and maybe even changed me more, it is still my favourite, and probably always will be. I think at this point it’s out of a sort of loyalty as much as anything else. We have been through a lot together, myself and that book. 🙂

  8. This is an impossible question! Reading for me is like listening to music – different books move me in different ways, the best change me forever. Possibly on your criteria to gypsied, this makes me somewhat of a book whore….? 🙂

    1. Oh no! I have never implied such a thing.

      Won’t you tell me at least your favorite books, so I will know what Aussies read?

      PS: Have the yellow roses I’ve sent withered? 😦

      1. The roses are everblooms, and so will never fade 😉 However, you will find I am not the best exemplar of Aussie tastes! Some favourites: Virginia Woolf – A Room of One’s Own, Jeannette Winterson – Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, Arundhati Roy – The God of Small Things and (just to mix it up a bit) Robert Jordan – Wheel of Time Series. I’m purposely not mentioning the real classics here, because they go without saying. And many others I either can’t remember or won’t tell you 😉

        1. You can say Twilight and Harry Potter and Fifty Shades and the rest of the notorious lot… I will not like you less.

          I would like to have an aunt like you. An Aussie aunt!

  9. When I was a child, my favorite book was Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I remember being in the elementary school library and it was sitting on a shelf, with the cover facing out. The librarian was talking and I kept staring at that book. Finally, we were allowed to get up and select our books for the week. I ran to that one immediately. I’ve read it probably hundreds of times. Now that I’m grown, my current favorite book is Jane Eyre. I could read it over and over. I just love the story. I guess I wish life could be like a fairy tale or just be romantic.

    1. Now that’s a romance you have going on with your books… I wish the same, but then if I would get what I wanted, I would probably wish for something else. The wishing is never ending…

  10. I suppose my favorite book (I’m not good with favorites) is “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry which is probably an infantile choice. Problem is, I read it for the first time when I was ten and fell in love with all the vise thoughts in it. I love how romantic it is and how my perspective to what I read in it changes while I get older. I’m a “little prince” myself…

  11. I love the painting that you have chosen to add at the beginning of the post. It’s Persian actually. The creators of this particular painting are a couple of my favorites – Iman Maleki and Morteza Katouzian.

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