A few days ago while in a fit of drunken idiocy,* I asked Amanda over at amandatheatheist if I could get in on the Thirty Day Book Challenge she recently posted. She encouraged me, so the next morning I read the list of topics for all thirty days and found that, to my dismay, Day 1’s question is “What is your favorite book?” Well, fuck me, why didn’t someone say we were playing the Impossible Questions Game?
Normally, when faced with something I want to post that just isn’t coming to me I just post something else until it comes together. But you see, I love books and I read an obscene amount. Asking me to name my favorite book is kind of like stealing a sock from a vampire:** panic, confusion and horror overwhelm until the matter is settled. And so I’ve found myself utterly unable to write anything for the past few days. I would sit at my computer and have a crippling feeling of panic wash over me because I had not decided what my favorite book was yet.
Instead of actually attempting to think about it and come up with a passable answer, I delayed and procrastinated with the best of them. I read things. I winged it in the kitchen and made a damned fine chicken pot pie, one of the best I’ve had. I spent a number of hours reading archives from blogs I’ve recently found. I grocery shopped, pulled a few extra hours at work, signed up for an extra shift at my volunteer job. Two things have broken my silence. The first is that I have not posted since Tuesday and I don’t want to avoid inadvertently kill my blog through sheer indecisiveness about books, so I need to post to get the ball rolling again.*** Dammit. The second is that I recently read a forum thread titled “What’s the strangest way someone you’ve known has died?” which means I can’t leave my house for fear I will be electrocuted by a faulty utility line, catapulted in an hilarious but ultimately fatal way into a bed full of poisonous spiders on a passing truck, or be chewed up by a combine harvester that just happens to be running down the sidewalk in my nowhere-near-a-farm neighborhood. Which means the internet is my only form of entertainment at the moment, and this has forced my hand. So, in advance I am sorry to all the books I did not pick. You are much loved, too, little bound collections of paper.
Okay. How to pick a favorite book? So hard, so, so hard. I value books on so many scales: entertainment value, the ability to make you think at least a little, creativity, re-readability… The list can go on. As I can never actually commit myself to just one favorite book, I thought the best thing to do was pick something that ranks highest, on average, for the things I value in a book. The oddest thing to me is that when I tally the front-runners, the one that comes out ahead isn’t actually a book, but a graphic novel collection. Okay then. I’ll go with Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman.
I can hear a lot of people groaning – it’s a comic book, it’s a fantasy comic book, yada yada yada. But dude, it’s so good. And so clever. And so impossible to explain to anyone who hasn’t read it, but I’ll try. The short synopsis is that it follows the Lord of Dreams, who is referred to by many names and isn’t so much the ruler of the dream world but more the actual embodiment of dreaming, as he emerges from a century long imprisonment. This imprisonment sets off a chain reaction including but not limited to a major conflict with his sibling Desire, Lucifer beginning to question the necessity of running Hell, and the attempted destruction of the Dreaming. It’s highly readable, with stories ranging from the interesting to the outright weird. It’s very clever, incorporating about a million myths and stories (my favorite is by far the Shakespeare subplot) almost effortlessly. The world-behind-reality that Gaiman set up is incredibly interesting and unique. It’s also got the added bonus of being off-the-wall enough about things we take for granted, such as reality, mortality, and our control on the world around us, that you see stories and narratives in a very different light. It ultimately becomes an homage to story telling of all sorts, which is the reason I picked it for today. What better than a book that’s about how vital stories are? Even though I am blurring the rules a bit, as it’s a collection of ten bound graphic novel collections instead of just one book. But whatever. It’s one story, and that’s what counts.
Tomorrow I’ll be diving into day two. If you’re not interested in the Thirty Day Book Challenge I’ll be posting other stuff pretty regularly as well, but I’m not self-hosted so there’s no hope of creating a separate RSS feed for the Book Challenge. Sorry. “Thirty Day Book Challenge: Day [Number]” will be in the title for anything addressing the Challenge, and if the post includes anything other than Book Challenge material there will be something else in the title as well. Feel free to mark as read if you don’t want to read it. The Challenge will be over on March 31.
*Other highlights from MJ’s Reel of Drunken Idiocy include: starting this blog, majoring in Latin, deciding working in non-profits was a great career move, just about anything I’ve posted on any internet forum, ever.
** I’ve got a surprising number of similarities to vampires. I’m pale, I’m happier in dark or dim lighting, I tend to recoil from Catholic priests, and I’m pretty sure a stake through the heart would kill me.****
*** Though I know most people probably wouldn’t notice the radio silence for a while, I delude myself into thinking everyone’s on the edge of their seat, just waiting for my next post.
**** Also, vampire fruit are a thing you guys. According to the font of all wisdom, Wikipedia, vampire pumpkins in Bulgaria are identifiable because they say “brrl brrl brrl!” and then shake themselves. Daaawwww. That is the cutest damned vampire I’ve ever heard of.