What’s Your Favorite Book?

I’m asking, readers, because a few days ago I had a surprising revelation: what does a person’s favorite book, or favorite genre, say about them?  Does it even say anything at all, or is this just a stupid question?  I’m not one to read very deeply into things normally, but the possibilities of this intrigue me.

For example, my favorite genre (or, rather, subgenre) right now is of the post-apocalyptic/dystopian strain.  Don’t even ask me about my favorite book, because I honestly could not tell you.  Anyway, does my current affinity for this genre mean that I’m generally depressed about the direction humanity as a whole is taking?  Or is it that I’m hopeful that no matter how bad things are, there will be someone to stand up for the little guys?  Or maybe this means something entirely different- perhaps it indicates that I’m a bit of a crowd follower, what with the popularity of this subgenre these days.  As with most types of personal interpretation, it can mean just about anything.  Which is why I have to be a bit careful when broaching this subject, especially since I’m not sure any of those possible answers quite fit me.

I do think that a favorite novel can say a lot about a person, though.  After all, the individual who adores Gone With the Wind is going to be a tad different than he who will swear by Ender’s Game.  Someone who likes the action genre may be a bit more outgoing than someone who is more into tech novels.

There are some Web sources that explore this topic in various ways, but I want your opinions, readers.  Which is why, for the first time ever on Novel Journeys, I’m putting a poll in the post, just asking whether you think there’s anything to this personality stuff.  You can always leave a comment if you would like to elaborate on the topic, but in general I think this will be a good way of determining what stock my subscribers (or casual passersby) put in this question of mine.

In other news, I’ve been thinking lately about starting a Goodreads account.  It seems like a good way to get recommendations for new books to read, as well as a way to easily keep track of what I’ve read and what I still want to read, if and when the To-Be-Read pile is eliminated at last.  I’ve been there more than once to see the pages for certain books I’ve received over the holidays, and from what I’ve seen I like the layout of the site.

And so here is my second (and third) question to those of you who use Goodreads or a similar site (like Shelfari): how useful is it in reviewing and finding books?  Are there any good books you found through those sites that you wouldn’t have come across otherwise?

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an English paper on Walt Whitman to finish (the research for which is the reason I had that quote from the preface to Leaves of Grass on my About page for a few days).

Happy reading.

UPDATE: Here’s the link to a site where the author outlines all of the major genres and what they might say about their readers.  Enjoy!

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Sock Drawers and Yard Sales

They say you can tell a lot about a person from the contents of their sock drawer.  To some extent, I suppose that’s true.  However, for getting a glimpse into another person’s life, I think one should always look on the bookshelf.

I went yard saling (let’s just pretend that’s a word) yesterday (which is part of the reason I didn’t post).  It’s always a fun time.  You should try it.  The goal is to hit up as many yard/garage sales as possible within your time frame.  I honestly can’t tell you how many I got to.  Yard sales are funny things; you walk around carrying another person’s stuff, and they stand there waiting for you to cart off the recently removed contents of their home.  Whenever someone invites you to essentially root through their private things like that, you’re bound to get a glimpse of what used to be important to them, what they collected, and what their life is like.

At least, the parts of their life that they don’t care about anymore.

I, of course, always head directly to the books at a yard sale.  That’s just the kind of person I am, and it shouldn’t surprise you if you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time.  At one house there were lots of books, at least proportional to the amount of stuff total for sale, so I could tell that particular family had book people.  There were tons of different books: novels, biographies, kid’s books.  I would guess that they were very well-rounded in the literature department.  I approved.

Another place also had a good selection, only this time most of the tomes for sale had to do with Christianity.  These, clearly, were deeply faithful people.  I respected them in that regard.  So they, at least at one point in their lives, had been affected with a curiosity to learn more about the Bible and about God.

One house (actually, it might have been the same one) had lots and lots of magazines lying out for free.  You could just take them.  Among those were maybe twenty copies of National Geographic from the late seventies and early eighties.  That was a really cool find for me.  I picked some up and I’m going to love finding out how the magazine was thirty years ago.  Not that I follow the magazine now, but still.  It’s pretty cool.  So I figured that this household had had someone with a hankering for learning about the world, at least for a while.  Then, who knows?  Maybe they got tired of it.  Maybe there were more copies that had been grabbed before I saw them.

The yard sales were profitable in more ways than one for me.  Sure, I got some awesome deals.  But I also learned just how much you can learn just from viewing what another person has (or once had) on their shelves.  I wonder what my personal shelf would say about me.  That I’m a big reader, sure.  I own more books than I know what to do with.  But other than that?  I own way more fiction than nonfiction, a lot of it YA.  So does that mean I’m immature?  Or that I’m just young (which I am)?  Would the high amount of fantasy and science fiction say that I’m not very down to earth?  Is all of this true of me?

Alas, I cannot make a good prediction, as I’m not another person.  But it’s fun to think about it.

Another thing about yard sale books: they have a separate story.  They’ve been read before.  Someone else once had them on their shelf, someone else may have loved it, treasured it.  Did they take it with them somewhere special?  Or did they buy it and simply forget about it, leaving it to sit in a room somewhere until the day the yard sale came around?  There might be whole stories I don’t even know about but I’m somehow connected to, just by owning a book.  It’s kind of strange, I suppose, to think that books have two kinds of stories in them.

In the end, though, the only one that matters is the one that’s written down, the one printed on the pages.  So no matter where the book came from or what it means about the owner, if you see a good book at a yard sale, go for it.  After all, they’re only a few dollars, and you usually can’t get a better deal.

Happy reading.

Oh, I got these too. Anyone out there read them?