“What is your favorite book?”

My daughter asks this fairly frequently. Usually, I don’t have an answer. People who read for fun as well as for improvement, insight, and inspiration generally have a hard time answering this.

Last night, at a Wednesday night bible study, our associate pastor asked the group this same question. Most of us struggled with a definitive answer.
What adds to this difficulty is the fact that I, along with many others, have a tendency to follow authors more so than particular books.

For example, hands down my favorite author is Stanley Hauerwas. In the context of books, articles, journals, seminars, sermons, and even two personal conversations – I have a good sense of who he is and his train of thought. I sometimes get his books mixed up in the way that I might mix up a couple different seasons of a sports team. To name a favorite book from him is difficult for me. His collection of thought expressed through primarily printed works would win favorite and most influential hands down. But none of his books are my favorite.

My favorite fiction author is easily Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Unfortunately, his collection of Sherlock Holmes was never meant to be one volume and to count that as a favorite book is a cop out!

This brings up another issue: what does favorite mean in this context? Even though my cheering for sports teams has almost come to a halt, I still have favorite teams. Most were donated to me from my family or from geographical location.

Favorite books were never really donated to me. Other than the Bible (i.e. The Holy Bible – Christian book of faith), my family read all over the landscape of fiction and nonfiction. We also watched a lot of television. But we all read a lot. From being a toddler through my teenage years, we probably averaged going to the library about 3 times a week – and that’s not counting school libraries for my parents’ college!

For the purposes of this blog post, my algorithm of favorite is this: to qualify as a favorite book, the book has to be memorable, challenge my way of thinking, change or expand my thinking, and be enjoyable. I don’t have an exact way to quantify those variables, but that is the criteria.

Today, I will just post the books in chronological order to when I read them. At least once a month over the next eleven months giving what these books have meant to me. Why eleven and not ten? Because I will include the honorable mentions that almost made the list. Remember, this is a list in chronological order!

The Giving Tree – Shel Silverstein

Ecclesiastes – Qoheleth

Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger – Ronald J. Sider

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

A Royal Waste of Time – Marva J. Dawn

Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert Pirsig

Watership Down – Richard Adams

Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership – Ruth Haley Barton

World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1 – Blizzard Entertainment