The Book Meme Challenge: Your Favorite Series
“Favorite” is the most difficult superlative for me. The series I prefer above all others? Why not ask which of my mother’s children is most loved, or which brother I like the most, or which friend I value most highly? To such questions, the only possible answer is “I love them all differently.” Mum loves her middle son and youngest son quite differently than her oldest son or her youngest-child-and-only-daughter – no matter how much we all joke that the Firstborn is Mum’s favorite. Likewise do I love my brothers differently, and likewise my friends (all of whom, I understand, bring out different aspects of my personality, as I bring out different facets of them).
So it’s really just unfair asking me to pick a favorite series, you see.
But I have hardened my heart and eliminated a few of the contenders:
Artemis Fowl? A good deal of fun, and oddly gripping considering how frequently Colfer uses the characteristics of dwarves as a sort of deus-ex-machina. But the fairies are rather preachy sometimes.
The Lord Peter mysteries, or Father Brown stories, or Hercule Poirot set? Quite lovely, all, but I tend to get one mystery mixed up with another (especially Christie’s), and are any of them, strictly speaking, a series?
The Ender books? The Lord and a few of my friends know how I am sometimes seized by the need to pluck them from the shelves, open them at random, and read until the end, though it may mean staying up till the wee hours. But really it’s Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow that I love; the sequels to both are nice but lack the raw magnetism of that first story and its parallax.
The Lord of the Rings? A classic for sure, beloved by most everyone I know, and read every couple of years. But I really think of it as one long book. And one can’t be hasty in picking it up – at least, I can’t; since it’s one long story to me, it’s a big time investment.
The Cosmic Trilogy? We’re getting closer…and yet, much as I enjoy the distinct books, I think of them, too, as one long story. One long and fantastic story that ends in a blazing sphere of majesty and the consummation of a marriage, which ties the first (masculine) book and second (feminine) book together quite nicely indeed.
But then there were two. And all I can say is that I love them differently.
The Harry Potter books: This affair began when Mum brought HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone home for me one day, and I read it until dinner, and I did the dishes one-handed, and I didn’t do anything else until I’d finished it. And I read Prisoner of Azkaban before Chamber of Secrets because I wanted so badly to read another. I joined the hordes clamoring for Goblet of Fire in Barnes and Noble at midnight. I parodied the song “American Pie” to ask “Why is there still no book 5?” Throughout high school and college, Harry Potter and company laced nigh on every synapse in my mind; any occasion could give rise to some allusion or other. Every college student longs for a Time-Turner when papers come due, or to Apparate when on summer break – to say nothing of wands, potions, or Hallows. I am still up for discussions of what exactly happened with the Elder Wand, how Hagrid first reached the Hut-on-the-Rock (I’m betting a thestral), how a Horcrux affects the will, or how Rowling uses symbols of alchemy. I do love these books deeply, and would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite of them, as I am one of the people who grew up with Harry.
And yet…before I knew Hogwarts, I knew Narnia. Fifth grade English class featured The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; my family’s bookshelves held The Magician’s Nephew, which I simply loved; and before too long I discovered the whole set at my grandmother’s house, tucked in between Grandpa’s westerns and books of family history. My cousin Carole and I practiced Breehy-hinny-brinny-hoohy-hah’s full name until we could rattle it off. Prince Caspian was referenced on the rare occasion I cleaned my room (“You have see what no man alive has ever seen, nor will ever see again”). Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth was overwritten by Bism. Eustace had the very best explanation for picking at scabs. And years later, when I was exploring everything else Lewis had written, I came back to Narnia and found that (not unlike Aslan growing bigger as Lucy aged) it was an even deeper and more beautiful world than I remembered. Reading Dr. Ward’s Planet Narnia connected all sorts of strands and made sense of those details that had seemed a tad arbitrary. And thus the books are connected, but each tells its own story; each book has a particular flavor. But throughout them runs the thread of Lewis’s matter-of-fact narration, and more importantly, Aslan: the great Lion, the son of the Emperor-over-the-sea, the King above all High Kings in Narnia.
Tomorrow will be an ugly battle for supremacy, or at least a morass of indecision. Stay tuned.