Monday, May 28, 2012


An opinion poll has recently been conducted to discover Scotland's favourite book – that's Scotland, the homeland of Walter Scott, of R L Stevenson, of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

To prolong the suspense, I shall announce the top three in reverse order, with suitable drum rolls.

Third: (small roll of drums): Great Expectations, Charles Dickens. (So far so good)

Second (louder roll): To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (splendid.)

First ( thunderous roll)  Er... The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown.

Horror, shame!  I feel humiliated by having to expose to you the appalling taste of my fellow-countrymen and women.  In our defence, it was a very small survey – certainly no one asked me! – and perhaps people confused 'favourite' with  'best-selling.'  I know how well it sold because I man a bookstall at our church's Christmas Fair and second-hand copies are unsellable because everyone's got one already.

Actually,Ii don't want to be too mean about The Da Vinci Code.  I was given it to read on a long flight and it did exactly what it said on the tin: thrills and spills and a pace that didn't give me time to balk at the absurdities.(I then made the mistake of reading Angels and Demons, where the ending had me crying with laughter, and I never read another one).

But favourite book?  That's the one you've always loved, that you read again and again and find something new in every time.  The Da Vinci Code – really?

It seemed strange that apart from this one, most of the rest of the list was surprisingly heavyweight: Great Expectations and To Kill a Mockingbird, as mentioned, as well as Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Lord of the Rings.

Perhaps I have a nasty suspicious mind, but there have been a lot of very good film and TV adaptations of all  of these shown recently, and it occurred to me to wonder how many people, put on the spot by the pollster, claimed to have a favourite book they had only actually seen as a film.  Did anyone check whether the Pride and Prejudice fans thought Elizabeth Bennett's attraction to Darcy arose from seeing him in his wet shirt?

In any case, what a silly question to ask.  Do you have one favourite book?  How could I choose Jane Austen's Emma over Evelyn Waugh's Scoop or PG Wodehouse's The Clicking of Cuthbert, or Henry James's The Golden Bowl or Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden, or...

Tell me yours!


Vicki Delany said...

To Kill a Mockingbird, to be sure, is right at the top of my list. I'd also have to mention An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears.

Aline Templeton said...

Don't know An Incident of the fingerpost, Vicki, but shall certainly look out for it now.


Annikka Woods said...

Ask me for a book title and I'll just give you a blank look. Ask me for a favorite author and you'll get the list. I read all over the place so what I would count as a favorite would be dependent on my mood that day. There are books that I like that hold special places in my heart - like Georgette Heyer's Talisman Ring or Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books - but I can't name favorites.

Rick Blechta said...

Come on, Vicki, everyone knows your favourite book is Lord of the Rings

Blaze said...

Picking one is a challenge beyond reason. But, in the spirit of the game, if pressed, I'd go with "Three Men in a Boat" by Jerome K. Jerome.

Aline Templeton said...

Georgette Heyer, certainly, Annika - but Regency Buck, definitely. Three Men in a Boat I've always loved especially for Montmorency the fox terrier with his 'Oh-what-a-wicked-world-it-is-and-how-I-wish-I-could-make-it-better-and-wiser' look.

Vicki Delany said...

Rick is right, my favourite book is Lord of the Rings. I've probably read it more than 20 times.

Rick Blechta said...

I think it's mine, too, Vicki, although I also like Uncle Wiggly in the Country an awful lot, too.