Seems like an easy question to answer don’t you think? Try it. Be honest. There’s a LOT of books out there and no one has read them all. So how can you be sure that’s your favorite book? A-ha…I just made it a hard question to answer didn’t I? Maybe not.
In any case, allow me to tell you my answer to the question. My favorite book is Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. If you haven’t yet read Lolita, then I highly recommend the book. Sure, its theme maybe a little taboo, but there’s no denying the book is genius really.
Before you can understand and enjoy Lolita, I think it’s prudent that you learn about the author himself, and try to see why and how a man could write such a genius novel. If you’ve ever read anything by the author, it’s easy to see that he has a way with words. For starters, he was fluent in three languages. He was an avid chess player. He wrote everything in longhand. He couldn’t type and therefore dismissed typewriters. (I think that having to write everything out is therapeutic to a writer and I too still use longhand to record articles, journal entries, and things of the like.) He taught English at ivy leagues such as Wellesley and Cornell. Nabokov was also a lepidopterist and worked at a zoologist museum at Harvard.
Lolita was published in 1955, banned from Paris from 1956-1958, and never fully published in the U.K. or America until 1958. Since its publication, Lolita remains one of the most controversial novels of the 20th century. Simply fascinating as far as I’m concerned.
Lolita is one of those books that requires you to think. When you read it for the first couple of times, have a dictionary by your side. Regardless of where you were educated or how many graduate degrees you have, your going to need a collegiate dictionary. Period. However, please don’t let this deter you from reading and enjoying the book. It simply means the book is meant to be savored and digested, not just skimmed.
The word choice and sentence structure is amazing. Words rhyme, phrases unite and link back, and alliteration lingers on the tongue long after you’ve moved past the passage. I would have loved to meet Nabokov to see if he talked as mellifluously as he wrote. I’d love to be able to write like him.
Some authors simply have a way with words. The fact that he was fluent in three foreign languages had a lot to do with the way he delivered his depictions I’m sure. Like Edgar Allan Poe sometimes did, Nabokov would create brand new words simply to fit into his writing if he couldn’t find one he liked.
If you haven’t read Lolita, I encourage you to buy a copy. Don’t bother borrowing it from the library. Buy it. It’s really THAT good of a novel that you’ll want to reread it several times and even allow it a home on your bookshelf.