As a comparative literature student and a self-proclaimed book-nerd, I often find myself in situations and conversations with people who do not like to read (at all). These conversation tend to range from very serious to hilarious, and I am sure many of you can relate to these type of situation. I would like to share and take a look in the world of ‘a reader’, and share one of my stories every week.
This week’s story outlines a situation that I have encountered many times – in many forms.
When I tell people I am a comparative literature student, one question almost always arises: “What is your favorite book?” I like to talk about books, and I am almost always willing to start a conversation about every literature related topic whatsoever. Nevertheless, I am always kind of afraid that this question pops up. To be honest, I can not name one favorite book of mine in particular, the list of books I love is pretty much endless, and it somehow feels like betrayal to name just one. Now, this is not something that is very weird, – I am pretty sure many of you book-addicts can even relate to this – but to people who are not that much into reading it sometimes seems kind of hard – almost unbearable – to understand. Mostly, the conversation that follows continues more or less like this:
Collocutor: There MUST be one book, just one, that you can name.
Me: Nope. But I do like most of/all the work of Tolstoj/ Márquez/ Stephen King /Whoever else I like to mention at that moment.
(10 seconds of silence to process)
Collocutor: But there must be one in particular that is your true favorite! Which one is it?
Me: I really can not answer that question.
Collocutor: Off course you can! Think really hard!
This goes on for pretty much 2-5 minutes. At this point I am getting a little frustrated, because the conversation seems to turn into a never-ending discussion. To them, the fact that I can not name one book, is pretty much incomprehensible. Also, some people think asking the question in a louder and louder volume, might help; you never know, maybe their voice will suddenly hit the better part of my brain and – BAM! – I do know what my favorite book is!
At this point I often get a little frustrated, because I even begin to doubt myself: maybe I am weird for not having a favorite book? So, sometimes I turn to the one and only answer I allow myself in these type of situations: my emergency answer.
Me: Okay, my favorite book is Harry Potter.
(Long silence to process again)
Collocutor: Your favorite book is Harry Potter!? I mean, I like Harry Potter, but I thought you would name something more… literature-like, everyone can read Harry Potter. (note: this is so wrong, in so many ways)
So, this is where I put all my effort into leading the conversation to Harry Potter, away from the ‘name one favorite book’-question. To be clear, I do love Harry Potter. Also, I think everyone can read EVERY book, not just Harry Potter-like books. Lastly, I know everyone knows something about Harry Potter, which makes it easy to turn the never ending discussion into a normal conversation again.
I do still wonder if I am one of the few people who does not have one favorite book. How do other people, who do not have one particular favorite, handle these kind of situations? Anyone? Please, tell me!