Sunday, November 23, 2008

Guest Blogger: Diana Spechler

Yesterday, I posted a review about a wonderful new novel WHO BY FIRE by Diana Spechler. I adored this book, so you can imagine how excited I am that Ms. Spechler agreed to write a guest post for me about her favorite book!

Since my first novel hit the shelves in September, a lot of people have asked me, reasonably enough, “What’s your favorite book?” Unfortunately, whenever anyone asks, particularly if it’s during a Q&A and I’m in front of an audience, sweaty microphone in sweaty palm, I draw a blank.

What is my favorite book? Have I ever read a book? I can envision my book shelves, but I can’t see what’s on them. I can envision myself curled up on countless couches, stretched out on countless lounge chairs, sitting in countless trains, holding countless paperbacks, but when I squint to see the titles, they are invisible. So then a battle rages in my head:

“I should just say Middlesex.”

“No, don’t say that. It’s an Oprah book.”

“So? People love Oprah.”

“Say Ulysses.”

“I’ll sound pretentious.”

“On The Road?”

“You never finished On The Road. And isn’t On The Road what people who don’t read say when they want to sound like they read? Then they always go, ‘I’m really into the Beats,’ but they don’t know who the Beats are and neither do you.”

“Yes, I do.”



“As if you’ve read Ginsberg.”

“Fine…The Poisonwood Bible.”

“Oprah book.”

“Shut up. It was not.”

“It totally was.”

“I am freaking out. No, I am seriously freaking out. Can I say The Other Boleyn Girl?”

“Are you joking? Tell me you’re joking.”


“Sure. If you want everyone to wonder if you’re a pervert. Then you should say that thing you always say when you start talking about Lolita. About how you found yourself cheering for a child molester, and that’s how you knew Nabokov was a master. That’ll win your crowd over. That will be totally awesome.”

“The Unbearable Lightness of Being?”

“You couldn’t even get through it.”

“Everyone likes The Unbearable Lightness of Being.”

“Except you. Stop it.”

“Catcher In The Rye?”

“Are you fourteen?”

“The Great Gatsby?”

“Are you fifteen?”

“Wuthering Heights?”

“Are you a hundred? And when the hell did you read Wuthering Heights?”

“Should I just plug one of my friends’ novels?...Oh, god, this is awful. What about Prep? Can I say Prep?”

“If you want to sound frivolous.”

“Prep’s not frivolous.”

“But some people just know the cover. That J. Crew belt. Can’t you come up with anything that wasn’t a best-seller?”

“Um…was Night a best-seller?”

“You are kidding. You are not serious. Who picks a Holocaust memoir as her favorite book? Are you insane? Besides. Oprah book.”

At this point, after the long, uncomfortable pause for which I am one hundred percent to blame, I usually wind up saying, “What is my favorite book? Have I ever read a book?”

Then everyone laughs to be nice, but they’re obviously a little disappointed, especially the person who asked the question and wanted a straight answer, and then I go home and think,
“I’m going to come up with a stock response to this question. I have to come up with a stock response to this question.”

But so far, I haven’t.

I absolutely laughed out loud when I read this because it's so true! I'm one of those people who are always asking this question (to authors, bloggers, friends, etc.). Even though I always want to know everyone's favorite book, I'm always struggling to come up with one of my own. I usually say TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD; and while it's a terrific book, I'm afraid that I don't sound very original!

A big thanks goes out to Diana Spechler for taking time from her very busy schedule to stop by Booking Mama!


Anonymous said...

I laughed too. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who has conversations with myself.

Anonymous said...

Too funny...especially when the voice chimes in about Oprah!

Kathleen said...

LOL That was great! Thanks for sharing. My favourite book is The Giver by Lois Lowry and although it's popular and YA fiction, it's what my fav is. I do normally have a hard time picking favs of things though.

Anonymous said...

What a funny guest post; thanks, Diana. The inner debate is hysterical!

I don't think I could settle on one favorite book when discussing it among friends, nevermind doing it on the spot in front of a public audience.

Julie, I'll be back to read your review after I write mine. I loved *Who By Fire*, it's a wonderful novel.

Thanks again, Diana - for this smile-provoking post and your thought-provoking book.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Hilar! The favorite book question is a hard one to answer. That's why I have a top 10 list - you can have a couple of pretentious ones, a couple of frivolous ones, etc. Perfect!

Bookfool said...

That was just flat wonderful! I laughed out loud -- especially about the Oprah bits. I have the same trouble. There is no single book I can call my favorite, although I've settled on The Count of Monte Cristo as my stock answer. It's a book I love and have reread, so it works.

Serena said...

Wow, what a great guest post. I always ask that question...though I never thought about how on the spot that would put authors when I ask it.

I think that saying a different book each time would be fine. I think that she should consider books that she has reread as possible answers...though maybe she doesn't reread books. In that case, maybe the book that has stayed with her the longest. :)