Monday, September 11, 2023

Picking favorites: an open book blog hop post

Welcome to Open Book Blog Hop. You can find us every Monday talking about the writing life. I hope you'll check out all the posts: you'll find the links at the bottom of this post.

What's your favorite book (not your own)? Has it changed in the last few years?  

Oooh, boy. I hate trying to pick a favorite. In almost any category! I'm too changeable in my tastes--and what feels like a favorite today may not please me that much tomorrow. So, anytime I answer "What's your favorite?" I feel like it needs a caveat of "This is my favorite, today." You may get an entirely different answer if you check back tomorrow. 

When it comes to books though, the first one to spring to mind when someone asks this one is usually We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. 

book cover variations

Like many of my lasting favorites, I found this book when I was young, around age twelve or thirteen. My middle school librarian suggested it to me when I showed an appetite for the eerie and strange in my reading. There's something about loves I discovered at that age that imprints them deeply, at a soul level, and they became a part of me in a way that other things I've loved have not. 

I've read this one several times since that first time, and it delights me every time, sending shivers down my spine in whole new ways. 

If you've not read Shirley Jackson's work before, she is best known for this book and another work of psychological horror: The Haunting of Hill House (another favorite for me). Jackson had a way of making ordinary, domestic moments into something tense and fraught with possibilities. A lot of the time, the narrators are not completely reliable and the reader doesn't know what it is true and what is interpretation. 

Merricat, the main character and narrator of Castle fascinated me because she was such an atypical girl-in-a-book. She didn't care about the same things as other female characters I'd been presented with. She felt more real to me, edgy and judgmental, and fierce. 

One of my own works-in-progress (back burnered until I meet my current deadline on the final Menopausal Superhero novel) is a Gothic romance/family drama (working title: The Architect and the Heir) and I think my taste for that kind of story can be traced back to Shirley Jackson and Daphne DuMaurier, both of whom I read around the same time. 

I've loved a lot of books since. I still read as voraciously as my life allows, somewhere between fifty and one hundred books a year. But there's something special about this one. 

How about you? What's one of the books of your heart? I'd love to hear about in the comments. 

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  1. I haven't read any of Shirley Jackson's work, but I'm not a big horror fan. Maybe I'll have to take a chance on one.

    1. Her horror is largely domestic--what people do to people. Psychological more than jump scare. I'm not sure if that makes her more scary or less scary.

  2. Shirley Jackson's books sadly passed me by, but now I'll have to check them out. Thanks for the recommendation.