To Kill a Mockingbird (36030)

Not everyone has a favorite book. It's certainly not a requirement. But with all the novels that have been written through the centuries, it's pretty shocking to meet someone who can't think of just one book that they've read that they like the most. It's worrisome, to be honest. Of course, not everyone's a reader and that's fine. There's lots of ways to engage with the world, to get information, and to learn. Some people prefer art, others music. Since the introduction of the Internet, there are new and interesting ways to get information that people just ten years ago could have never even dreamed of: podcasts and YouTube and interactive tools that are getting more and more sophisticated every day.

Still, a person's favorite book (or lack thereof) tells a lot about him or her. Some popular favorite books, and what they might say about a person's character:

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: This person was forced to read this book in 9th or 10th grade. It is not really his or her favorite book, but he or she hates this question and wants to be left alone. Odds are, if pressed as to why he or she chose Huckleberry Finn, he or she will not be able to give a definitive answer of any kind. In Huck's (and Mark Twain's) defense, it's actually an excellent choice, but it's definitely worth probing the person who claims it as a favorite for a bit to see why he or she has chosen this book specifically.

Pride and Prejudice (or any Jane Austen novel): This person is almost definitely a woman. She fancies herself Elizabeth Bennet and has probably read Pride and Prejudice a minimum of six times. It's probably better not to ask how many times she has seen the BBC miniseries starring Colin Firth.

Great Expectations: This person is a reader. Dickens is not easy, and Great Expectations is not one of his easier novels. It's a cruel story in many ways, and the person who chooses it as a favorite over a Tale of Two Cities or Oliver Twist probably enjoys the tragedy that is Miss Havisham and the devious nature of the beautiful Estella. It's a very interesting choice.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Oh wow. This person probably is male, loves science fiction, and particularly enjoys pointing out various tiny inaccuracies in lots of movies or TV shows set in space, the past, or both. This story is hilarious in many ways, but it's obscure and self-aware and appeals to a very particular sense of humor. A great follow-up question for this person is how many books in the "trilogy" he or she (but probably he) has read.

To Kill a Mockingbird: While it's likely that this person was also forced to read this novel in the 8th or 9th grade, it is absolutely an excellent choice for a favorite book. There's a reason the reclusive Harper Lee didn't write anything after To Kill a Mockingbird; she had already written the perfect novel. Ask this person who he or she likes better: Scout or Atticus and you'll be chatting for hours.