Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme that asks a bookish question each week. You can join in by clicking the link above! This week’s question is:
Are “best” and “favorite” the same thing? If someone asked you “What’s the best book you ever read?” would the answer be the same as for “What’s your favorite?”
Wow–this is a tough one! I don’t know that I’ve ever thought about that distinction before. I guess it depends on what you mean by the words “best” and “favorite”. BEST can mean a lot of things depending on who’s doing the ranking, and I suppose I consider the term BEST to refer to things that can be concretely measured, like popularity of a book and the number of copies sold. FAVORITE, to me, is a much more personal ranking.
There’s a book by Nancy Thayer called “Nell” that is one of my very FAVORITE books of all time. It’s out of print now, but I still have the hard cover copy that I bought over twenty years ago. I loved that book when it was first published sometime in the 90s–and I still love it today. I’ve re-read my copy many times. It’s a novel about a divorced woman who is raising her kids near Nantucket and coping with everyday life and everyday dramas. I feel like the main character could be a friend– a good friend. I know EXACTLY what she looks like and what her voice sounds like (for the record, she doesn’t look anything like the picture on the cover to the left!). I can picture myself reacting to her situations and problems in similar ways. I want to have her over for coffee!
But here’s the odd part–I’ve never been divorced, I’ve never even been married, I’ve never had kids, and I’ve never been to Nantucket! However, something about this character connected with me on a very deep level when I read it for the first time, and that connection grows whenever I re-read it every couple of years. That’s great writing.
Is “Nell” the BEST book written by Nancy Thayer? It never got as much publicity or as many sales as her other novels. And, since it’s now out of print, it certainly can’t be regarded as a best-seller. But it’s one of my FAVORITES because it hit me on a very deep level when I first read it, and that character–and that connection–has stayed with me for many years. And, to a reader, I think that’s what should count the most.
How about you? Do you make a distinction between BEST and FAVORITE when it comes to books? Should there even be a distinction? Please share!