books on a shelf

The One Book Question


While browsing Twitter one day, someone I follow asked the question: If you had to leave Earth and could only take one book with you, with no possibility of returning to get more, which book would you take?

I hate these questions, and it seems like every author gets asked some variant of this.

I tried to answer it with: I would load up my Kindle or computer with every book I own and take them all with me. I wouldn’t have to choose.

Of course, that’s not the point of the question, even though that’s exactly what I would do. I don’t use my Kindle very much, but it does serve as a very handy backup should a physical collection ever be lost.

But the question asks which one book would I choose above all others. And I honestly don’t know.

Different books serve different purposes and fulfill different joys. When I’m happy, I might pick up something deep or meaningful or intellectually satisfying. When I’m sad, either a pick-me-up book or something that would commiserate. And my favorites have changed over time. When I was young, my absolute favorite series was the Thoroughbred YA series by Joanna Campbell. Then it became books by Tamora Pierce. Then Mercedes Lackey. Then Harry Potter, which is interesting because I initially resisted reading the series until I was given the second book as a gift and decided to read it one day and then devoured the series as quickly as I could buy it.

But then I stopped having “favorites” and now have “go-to”s for different situations or needs. All of these books have a special place in my heart. All of these stories are now forever a part of my psyche and my memory. But if you ask me what’s my favorite book or who’s my favorite author, I genuinely can’t give you an answer. I will instead tell you some of the books I read most frequently, or the ones I’m currently reading, or ones I recommend in the genre you’re interested in.

But you’ll never hear a favorite book or a one-book choice from me. I have too many.

So my answer to the one-book question might then be, I’d take the book I return to the most, again and again, and which is the most well-used and well-loved (which would seem to be Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith), but really I’m carrying all of these books with me in my mind and heart. So it’s a non-issue.

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