I definitely have a favorite book, but I'm afraid this makes me very weird. My favorite book is one of the most dreaded books in the English language, even though I just can't see why people despise this book so much. I've never really met anybody else who loved it the way I love it. Truth is, I haven't actually met many people who've read it at all.
I remember one summer ... I was 20 years old and I was home from college for the summer. I was living on my mom's couch that summer, and working with a friend of mine in his window-washing business. We set our own hours and made good money, working for ourselves. I went out bar-hopping almost every night -- it turned out this was the last summer I would ever spend in my hometown. Turned out, that was true for a lot of us, but we didn't know it then.
I'd get home late every night. Two, three, four in the morning. But instead of sleeping, I'd lay on my couch (sometimes gently spinning) and read Moby Dick. This wasn't my first time through it, but it was the first time the book really grabbed me. I can still remember individual sentences and images and the way they wound into my brain. In some very real ways, my dreams were shaped by Moby Dick on those late summer nights.
Two years later, I read it again, this time while I was living in the South Pacific, near the same stretches of ocean the Pequod plowed through. And then again, and again, and again.
Why Moby Dick? There really isn't time, but just because of everything. It has seafaring adventure, symbolism and theme of the deepest order, the best depiction of madness on paper I've ever seen, and all those glorious passages about the whale and the hunt. It's so much more than the sum of its parts. It has meaning on a level that feels almost post-linguistic, as if it operates on a cellular plane. To me, Moby Dick is near the pinnacle of artistic expression.
Moby Dick is the book I wish I could write.
What about you?