it`s hard to pick a favourite book.
when vic and i moved into our duplex, the first things we unpacked were the books and when we getting ready to get renters` insurance we had to double our coverage just for our books. it was the same when we moved into the house and the replacement rider on our homeowners policy is what saved us a massive amount of heartache when we got robbed last year. we have got close to 1500 books all neatly catalogued on the computer and backed up in a number of locations. they`re mostly organised by category and then alphabetically and the first thing you see when you walk in the door are the four 7-foot tall bookcases. our first spring cleaning revolved around reorganising the books because we`d acquired a new bookshelf. and even with that reorganisation we`re still side stacking books because we don`t have enough shelf space.
two and a half of the 7-foot bookshelves are occupied by vic`s cooking resources. it is an amazing collection and every trip to a second-hand store sees us with an addition. the other shelves run the gamut – travel, poetry, art history, craft, religious, classics and fiction. we also have a lot of books of erotic and on sexuality but they`re on the special bookshelf in the bedroom.
the fiction is divided into two sections, mostly so we could have space for it all. all the mass market paperbacks are stacked sideways on a shelf in the office and the rest of the stuff takes up the top three rows of one of the 7-foot bookshelves.
the point of all this? that`s a lot of books to attempt to pick favorites from but i`m going to give it a whirl.
i`ve realised in attempting this, that i don`t have have favourite books, i have favourite authors. i read something i like it and i then proceed to read everything i can find by the author. it`s what got me started on the collections of Stephen King, Terry Prachett, Hunter S. Thompson, Neal Stephenson, Clive Barker, Douglas Adams, William Gibson, Neil Gaiman, Salman Rushdie, Roald Dahl, Jasper Fforde and Isaac Asimov. I`m also a big fan of graphic novels and interestingly our house is one of the few, if not the only one, you could have find Alan Moore`s From Hell and Milton`s Paradise Lost side by side.
it`s also very hard for me to pick a favourtie book because i`m a sucker for the short form – essays, short stories, novellas are my absolute favourite forms of writing. all of my favourite authors have written something in the short form. my love for Hunter S. Thompson and Issac Asimov come more from they short form writing that their long form.
which brings me to my favorite piece of writing ever; see there was a point to all this preamble – i should learn the short form myself; it`s called Appointment in Samarra and is credited to Sommerset Maugham:
There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the market-place I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture; now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate.
I will go to Samarra and there death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse and the servant mounted it and dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the market-place and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.
I agree with you about the short story/novella thing. I enjoy Stephen King’s novels, but I absolutely love his short stories, especially one from “Skeleton Crew” called “Cain Rose Up”. For years my favorite novel was “The Things They Carried” mostly because the chapters stood alone as short stories as well as they blended together as a single narrative. Now though, I must admit, my favorite piece of fiction has nothing to do with the short form. It is Irving’s “A Prayer for Owen Meany”.