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This past weekend I was obliged to ponder the question “What is your favorite book?” and, I have to admit, it took me awhile to come up with an answer. How do I pick just one? I’m a Libra for goodness’ sake! Just writing this post made me want to go back in time and change my answer five times. It’s like Sophie’s Choice without the Nazis. [Disclaimer: I never finished Sophie’s Choice. I should probably stop referencing it until I do.]

A few books came to mind immediately, notably Jane Eyre and Rebecca. But, having recently revisited Jane Eyre for the new movie version, I don’t think I could say it’s my absolute favorite, even though I loved it growing up (and it’s still a great book). For one, it’s amazing how my impression of Rochester has changed over time—much like revisiting Star Wars and wondering how I could ever have been attracted to Luke Skywalker; Han Solo is clearly where it’s at. Rebecca was another favorite of my teen years and would definitely vie for a top position on any favorites list. But how much of that is Du Maurier and how much is Hitchcock? Hard to say.

How much do I want this bag? A lot.

I finally settled on A Widow for One Year by John Irving when I realized that for me it was a great combination of literary style, narrative, and personal connection. It certainly wouldn’t be the Irving of choice for many—I suspect that would be A Prayer for Owen Meany—but I remember that when I read A Widow for One Year, I felt that I finally got Irving. He was an author I had enjoyed for years (is it the bears?), but it wasn’t until this book that I truly connected with his writing.

I wonder, if I re-read it now, would I feel the same way? Should one re-read favorites? Can one have a favorite that one doesn’t ever read again? I know that I should probably never re-read The Joy Luck Club (which I read soon after my mother’s death), but can I pick up Watership Down again?

How about you? Do you re-read? Do you have a ready answer to the question “What is your favorite book?”

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