What Books Represent You As A Reader?

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If you ask any reader what their favorite book is, chances are they'll look aghast and insist they couldn't possibly pick just one. And it's true! Most of us have several favorites that have clung to the insides of our brains, influencing us, coloring our world, and calling us back to them across the years. That group of books, the ones that truly make our hearts flutter, are the crux of how we can look at ourselves as readers.

Often we read whatever looks interesting, whatever book is getting buzz at the moment, or things we pick up on a whim. That's absolutely legitimate and can lead to some great discoveries, but we often find ourselves a little disappointed in books we pick up because of outside pressure (it won an award, everyone is talking about it, it's been on the bestseller list for weeks, etc). I feel like a lot of my reading life is chasing that rainbow to find the next book that will make my insides squirm in the best way for years to come. Knowing your favorite books can really help you hone in on what your ideal reading life really looks like, and help you choose those kinds of books for yourself a little better.

To start thinking about this, first decide which titles have been leaping to mind the entire time you've been reading this. Although on the surface those titles may seem disparate, a little digging will likely reveal commonalities in what stands out to you in those books you loved and reveal what you are (maybe subconsciously) drawn to. Once you do start to think about different themes in books that you enjoy, you'll be able to connect the dots between the books you've read and find commonalities that you might not have noticed before.

For instance, let's start with me, why not? My little collection of favorites are:

  1. Tigana | Guy Gavriel Kay
  2. The Secret History | Donna Tartt
  3. The Great Gatsby | F. Scott Fitzgerald
  4. Harry Potter | J. K. Rowling
  5. Brideshead Revisited | Evelyn Waugh

The links between all of my favorite novels is that they are all incredibly atmospheric, with complex, layered plots and characters that feel truly alive. My wheelhouse is generally literary fiction with a dash of fantasy and all of my favorites, though vastly different, create a really specific nostalgia-tinged mood through truly exceptional writing. Seriously, just let me go live in that feeling; I want to curl up in it and never leave. And ugh, you guys, I am truly such a sucker for gorgeous, magical writing!

Of course there are plenty of other books I truly, wholeheartedly enjoy that don't fit into this theme, like The Importance of Being Earnest, or The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet to name a couple, but these 5 are the ones that struck a harpoon in my heart and will never let me go. Knowing that they share these characteristics and getting a good read (hah!) on the moods I am drawn to in books allows me to narrow my search for new books that might really resonate with me.

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Rikki, however, is a completely different reader than I am. A look at her favorites reveals she is invested in really warm books with descriptive scenes, history, struggle and overcoming obstacles, populated with strong characters that are redemptive.

  1. Unbroken | Lauren Hillenbrand
  2. The Graveyard Book | Neil Gaiman
  3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society | Mary Ann Schaffer
  4. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe | Fannie Flagg
  5. The Giver | Lois Lowry

Knowing this about ourselves has been crucial in deciding which books we should be spending more time with, and helped us to clarify and seek out what appeals to us as readers. Our overlap in our books is that we both enjoy strong literary novels and well-layered prose, with extremely well done characters. There's almost always some link you can find between you and a fellow reader, even if you're reading styles are as different as ours are. You don't have to love - or hate - the same books to have good conversation, but we better understand one another based on the books we know the other person loves and why. It makes gift giving much easier, too! 

What are the common themes in your reading life? We'd love to hear about it!