I have a lifelong aversion to “favorites.”  How am I supposed to pick a favorite book? Movie? Food? How can I say that Atwood is better than Rushdie or that chocolate truffles are better than strawberry pie?  Some people might call me indecisive. I always preferred to think of it as a bias against people who appreciate variety, and I used Don Delillo’s line that such lists are “a form of cultural hysteria” to justify my cause. When so many things are wonderful for so many different reasons, who can name THE BEST?

This happened to me in dating too. Not that I couldn’t date just one guy at a time… Instead I dated a diverse group of guys over the years, none of whom would ever be categorized as “my type” because I appreciated each one for the quirky things that made them unlike all the others.  I think just about every one of my close family and friends let my now-husband know that he’s the only person I’ve ever dated who really made sense for me. At least this is one category where I finally picked a favorite!

Because of my general incompetence with favorites, I offer you instead the things I’m most likely to recommend to others:

  • Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – Excellent book. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first picked it up, but I was quickly and completely pulled into this bookish mystery.  Ruiz Zafon reminded me at times of Eco or AS Byatt. (His more recent book, not so much… But that’s a gripe for another day.)
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – I was an anti-sci-fi snob until I read this book. I recommend it to pretty much everyone, particularly people who claim they don’t like sci fi or don’t like to read at all.
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Anything by Garcia Marquez. Just do it. His stories are haunting and beautiful, and you won’t regret a minute of it. And please don’t skip the book and choose the movie. THAT you will regret.
  • Dark Chocolate Reese’s Cups – What? You were expecting this to be full of highbrow books? Get off your couch and buy some of these. Bring them home, stick them in the freezer, wait for a bad mood to strike, and consume. You can send me your love letters full of effusive thanks later. Or a box of Reese’s cups will suffice.
  • Before Sunrise / Before Sunset – Before Sunrise is the only movie I’ve ever watched multiple times before returning it to the rental store. (Yes, once upon a time people got into cars, drove to a store, and picked out a movie instead of having them magically appear in mailboxes. Up hill in the snow both ways, of course.) I haven’t forced my husband to watch these yet, but only because if he hated them I’d be heartbroken. I’d rather go on pretending that he would agree these movies are amazing. Full of dialogue out the wazoo. Smart, romantic, and not for people who are caught up on silly things like action and plot progression.
  • How I Met Your Mother – This show came out around the time that I returned to watching tv after the pop culture oblivion otherwise known as grad school. Have you seriously not watched it? This show (and Dr. Horrible) are what made Neil Patrick Harris the hot commodity he is today instead of just “that Doogie guy.”
  • Stranger Than Fiction – Will Ferrell movies are hit or miss for me, so I was hesitant to watch this one. I finally caught it at the cheap theater, and I knew I was in the right place when a bunch of people left mid-showbecause it wasn’t “a Will Ferrell movie.” I wanted to call friends and tell them they had to see it while I was still sitting in the theater. Maybe it just caught me at a particularly lost time in my life, but I got caught up in the thought-provoking, get out of your rut emotions of it. (If you have trouble telling Maggie Gyllenhaal and Zooey Deschanel apart, you may confuse this movie with Yes Man. It’s a common problem that a simple test will resolve: if the role also involves quirky singing, it’s Zooey.)

Do favorites come easy to you? Were you the kid who always knew exactly what your favorite EVERYTHING was, or did you waffle around to give each color/cartoon/book/boyfriend a chance?

Advertisements