My Favorite Book … This Year

Ask me what my favorite book is and the answer will usually be something I’ve read very recently. I can’t help it: I’m an enthusiastic reader.

When I was eight my favorite book was Ring of Bright Water (Gavin Maxwell). By twelve I was all caught up in Dickens: Great Expectations and on and on. The next year my favorite book was The Moon Spinners by Mary Stewart. When I was sixteen it was The Strawberry Statement: Notes of a College Revolutionary (James Simon Kunen—I still have my copy, read many times) and at nineteen it was Watership Down (Richards Adams). At twenty-one? Stranger in a Strange Land (Robert Heinlein); the next year If Beale Street Could Talk (James Baldwin).

It’s a mixed bag, no?

This year, my favorite book was Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. (It was published in mid-September 2011. I bought it with Christmas money and read it in January.) It’s not my usual fare but from the stunning (hardback) cover to the workout it gave my imagination, I loved this book from the first page:

The circus arrives without warning.

No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

I read that and paused. Thought: Oh my.

… And the black sign painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, the one that reads:

Opens at Nightfall

Closes at Dawn

“What kind of circus is only open at night?” people ask. No one has a proper answer, yet as dusk approaches there is a substantial crowd of spectators gathering outside the gates.

You are amongst them, of course. … You stand in the fading light, the scarf around your neck pulled up against the chilly evening breeze, waiting to see for yourself exactly what kid of circus only opens once the sun sets.

There is another sign on the gates: Le Cirque des Rêves.

Some in the crowd smile knowingly, while others frown and look questioningly at their neighbors. A child near you tugs on her mother’s sleeve, begging to know what it says.

“The Circus of Dreams,” comes the reply. The girl smiles delightedly.

Then the iron gates shudder and unlock, seemingly by their own volition. They swing outward, inviting the crowd inside.

Now the circus is open.

Now you may enter.

Oh yes. I was right there, sure enough.

And I think that’s what made this my favorite book, although I know it was not every critic’s favorite. I loved Morgenstern’s voice. I loved the rhythm of the words as I read them.

This excerpt tells you a little more; it’s from the book jacket:

Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way—a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a “game” to which they have been irrevocably bound. … Unbeknownst to the players, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. … When Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, they innocently tumble headfirst into love. A deep, passionate, and magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

The plot is complicated; the reviews were mixed. It is a first novel. But I thought it was splendid.

I read other books that impressed me this year. I was devastated by A Long, Long Way (Sebastian Barry). The Art of Fielding (Chad Harbach) made me think. Black Swan Green (David Mitchell) was moving and wonderful. A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness) made me cry. Even on the second read. (I wrote about each of them too: here, here, here, and here.)

I also read three books while I was on vacation this fall that I didn’t like at all. (Two I finished, barely. The third was I Couldn’t Love You More by Jill Medoff, and was too bad to continue, although I was three-quarters of the way in before I gave it up. I kept hoping, you see.)

I read forty to forty-five books a year, and some are better than others. But this year, my favorite was The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. Magic. :)

Tweet: My favorite book—this year.
Tweet: I can’t help it: I’m an enthusiastic reader.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted in Books You Might Like | Tagged as: , , , , , , | Bookmark the permalink | Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

2 Comments

  1. nancy masters says:

    Just found it…have to wait till after Christmas to get it tho…can’t wait!!!! Been on my mind since the girl’s night….

  2. […] read thirty-three* books for pleasure in 2012—and at the end of the year I boiled it all down to One Favorite Book, difficult though that was. I read fifty-four in 2013, and most of them were titles I’d happily […]

  3. […] years ago I published a year-end article about my favorite book that year (2012), and I liked the idea, so I did it again for 2013. Last year I read a lot of […]

  4. […] Annual Faves My Favorite Book This Year (2012) My Favorite Book v. 2013 My Favorite Book v. […]

3 Trackbacks

  1. By My Favorite Book v. 2013 on 9 January, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    […] read thirty-three* books for pleasure in 2012—and at the end of the year I boiled it all down to One Favorite Book, difficult though that was. I read fifty-four in 2013, and most of them were titles I’d happily […]

  2. By My Favorite Book v. 2014 on 2 February, 2015 at 7:12 am

    […] years ago I published a year-end article about my favorite book that year (2012), and I liked the idea, so I did it again for 2013. Last year I read a lot of […]

  3. By Short Saturday: Making a List, Checking It Twice on 5 December, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    […] Annual Faves My Favorite Book This Year (2012) My Favorite Book v. 2013 My Favorite Book v. […]