Favorite Novel Ever (for now)

January 21, 2007

I didn’t find much time for reading this weekend. A particularly vicious stomach flu attacked all but me, thus leaving me with all the weekend duties- cooking, cleaning, aundry, grocery shopping. I did manage to get through a few of Joyce’s short stories in Dubliners, as well as a start on Tristram Shandy

After a couple of paragraphs of Sterne’s novel the influence of Cervantes and Don Quixote was very clear. A few more pages and there was the reference to Don Quixote’s horse. My first reaction was that I knew I was going to like this book. I also experienced that feeling one gets when remembering a particularly enjoyable reading experience. I must have picked up and read Don Quixote at just the right time in my life. I now have two copies of it on my shelf- the one I read years ago, and the more recently published Edith Grossman translation, which I plan to read next summer.

I’m sure most can remember particular books or reading experiences that remain special to them for one reason or another. I’m likely dating myself with this comment, but I still remember those first Dick, Jane, and Spot readers I experienced at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary back in 19–. “See Spot. See Spot run. Run Spot, run.” The first book I owned is still in print- Dr. Suess’ One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. My parents were not regular readers other than the newpaper and the Bible, but they always encouraged me. I also was allowed to purchase 1 or 2 books from those little Scholastic Book order forms that the school sent home monthly. “Encyclopedia Brown” was a favorite. I also had a subscription to “Highlights.” A few years later I started getting the Hardy Boys novels for Christmas and birthdays. (I wish I had hung onto those early editions- they are probably valuable now). I will always remember the more “mature” book that really hooked me for life. I was at the school library in middle school looking for a book for a book report. I picked up Mutiny on the Bounty. I loved it. After completing the book report, I went on to read the rest of the trilogy for enjoyment. A Great Books class in high school lead me to enjoy the classics- It was my first reading of the books of Homer and Virgil, and I learned to appreciate them.

I know that it is difficult for readers to pick one favorite novel, but if some wierd other-worldly experience absolutely forced me to choose, today I would have to choose Don Quixote. Just thinking about it now makes me smile in anticipation of that experience this summer. Now back to Tristrim Shandy. It is always possible that Cervantes will move to #2.

Anyone else willing to commit?


8 Responses to “Favorite Novel Ever (for now)”

  1. w Says:

    I’ll commit to Don Quixote with you. Just say the word!

    Have you seen the hilarious adapation of Tristram Shandy starring Steve Coogan?

    And I’m a big Encyclopedia Brown fan, too. One of my favorites is when everybody was trying to figure out why a victim had written “JASON” just before he died (did people die in those books? maybe the guy just passed out or lost his memory).

  2. Dorothy W. Says:

    I love the Tristram Shandy movie — it’s great. And, of course, I love the novel itself, and I’m glad you are enjoying it so far. I’m planning on reading Don Quixote this summer, and I’m insisting on getting the Grossman translation when I do. I know there are other people who want to read it; perhaps we should get a group reading blog or something.

  3. Kay Says:

    Oh gosh, I still have those Dick and Jane books! My aunt, the teacher, gave them to me. I read them to all my kids. I love them. Boy do I feel old.

    Today I would say my favorite book is The Historian. I can’t explain why. It was just a great book that sticks with me.

    Happy C&C Monday…you have a great blog.


  4. Brad Says:

    w – I’ve not seen the movie, actually I didn’t know it existed but I will be sure to look for it. Thanks!

    Dorothy – The group reading blog is a great idea. I think Don Quixote deserves the attention.

    Kay – I know what you mean about feeling old. 🙂 I have not yet read the Historian. I picked it up a few times and contemplated reading it because of all of the good reviews. I think it was the length of it that intimidated me. If I tackle a book that thick, I usually pick something that has already withstood the test of time. Thanks for responding!

  5. Susan Says:

    A few of us did a slow read of DQ in 2005. We started in January and finished in the fall. It would have been better if we’d read it over the course of a summer, I think.

    Have you seen the website devoted to DQ, 400 Windmills?


    I will definitely be reading Tristam Shandy at some point this year.

  6. Brad Says:

    Susan- I had not seen the website, thanks for the link! I think I would have had difficulty pacing the reading of DQ over 9 months- I really enjoyed reading it. I like the idea of sharing a reading experience in that manner though. Using the web to facilitate the discussion lets everyone participate as they have time.

  7. Kate S. Says:

    “Don Quixote” is a book I’ve always meant to read but haven’t got round to yet, and I’ve heard good things about the Grossman translation. If a group read is in the offing, I’m definitely in. I’ve been on a huge Paul Auster binge of late, and one of the things that I’ve learned about him is that “Don Quixote” is his favourite novel, so you’re in excellent company Brad!

  8. Brad Says:

    I will remind those interested in a DQ group reading this summer and try to get something organized.

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