If you are my friend – or even just an acquaintance – I would like to read your favorite book.
Or at least a book that you really, really liked. I know it’s hard to pick favorites. I want to read a book that changed your life. Or maybe not changed your life, exactly, but clicked something on in your brain, turned a switch, changed some small aspect of the way you view the world.
This is an introvert’s way of getting to know someone without having to actually, you know, speak. But it’s not just because I want to get to know you. I mean, you’re a nice, interesting person, I probably do want to get to know you. But I’m selfish. I want to find books that I’ve never heard of that are amazing. I want to change my own life. I want to add to my personal canon.
I imagine that everyone has their own criteria that must be met in order for a book to enter into the upper echelons of their psyche. For me, I hold onto fiction authors whose talent is steady and enduring, that keep writing and rarely disappoint. I give great respect to books that I found as a young person and read and read and read until the words have worked their way into my subconscious. I revere works of fiction that speak to some higher truth regarding how we humans interact with one another, how we love each other. I love nonfiction that incites a sudden and severe change in the course of my daily actions – the way I eat or move my body or spend my days or speak to other people. Some of these books I read once and that’s enough; one experience will stay with me forever. Others pop up cyclically, every six months, every year. Some I pick up when I’m in a certain place in my life, a time of unrest, when I need reminding of something or need comfort. Most, I read and read and read again, because I am a re-reader.
This is why I tend to write about the same books and authors over and over again. My canon is part of me, my life, and how I judge and read other books. I can practice being objective, yes… but to what extent, ultimately?
And anyway, I love these authors, these books. I love re-reading them. I love writing about them. I read every book hoping that I can add another to the bookshelves of my soul, or whatever. I’m going to think about these books until I die, and I’m going to write about them until they stop changing my life.
So if you ever add a book to your own canon, let me know; I want to read it.