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My favorite book? I haven't read it … yet

I recently received a questionnaire in the mail. A friend sent it to 50 friends in celebration of her 50th birthday.

Knowing it would be difficult to get everyone together, she decided to spend “time” with the friends by reading their responses on her actual birthday.

I answered the questions carefully and returned the questionnaire. One of the questions stumped me. It asked very simply, “What's your favorite book and why?” My response was that I had not read my favorite book yet. During the summer, I enjoy reading books by James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell. I always enjoy books that are real-life accounts, like “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer, where he tells the true story of a college graduate who tries to survive in the Alaska wilderness. I have read plenty of books, just not a favorite … yet.

I have a favorite movie, a favorite color, two favorite numbers. I have a favorite dessert, a favorite sport, but no favorite book.

Seems unlikely that a writer wouldn't have a favorite book. My husband named his right off the bat. It was “A Prayer for Owen Meany,” by John Irving. So, I am reading this very long book now to see why it is his favorite.

I contacted other people in our community to find out their favorite books to give myself a future reading list. They never hesitated with responses. Here is what I discovered:

Jessica Garner, a Spanish teacher at Porter Ridge High School and the 2008 Union County Teacher of the Year: “My favorite book from my childhood was ‘The Secret World of Polly Flint' by Helen Cresswell. I have so many from now that I couldn't even tell you.”

Stallings Mayor Lynda Paxton: “My all-time favorite is ‘To Kill A Mockingbird' by Harper Lee, but more recently, I really appreciated ‘Good to Great' by Jim Collins.

“In fact, I wrote brief chapter summaries of ‘Good to Great' and shared with all of our staff, council, and advisory boards.”

My sister, Debbie Polk: “To Kill A Mockingbird” was her favorite book too.

Earl Bradshaw, senior pastor of Mill Grove Methodist Church: “I must say the Bible, but coming in second is ‘The Practice of the Presence of God' by Brother Lawrence. Brother Lawrence was a monk in the 17th century in France who had a very close walk with God, and he talks about it in this profound little book.”

Kirsten Erving, who teaches third grade at Fairview Elementary: She just finished reading “Twilight,” the first book in a series by Stephenie Meyer, and she said she couldn't put the book down once she started. The book has been popular with adults and teens, including Erving's teenage daughters. “I am thrilled to see a renewed interest in reading for my daughters and so many of their teenage friends. We are using the library again and talking about books.”

Susan Shikany, media coordinator at Hemby Bridge Elementary: “I have so many.” For kids' books, “Tale of Despereaux,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “Eloise,” “Winnie the Pooh” and “The White Mountains Trilogy.” For adults, Ken Follett's “Pillars of the Earth” and “World Without End.”

She said “Pillars of the Earth” tells how a medieval cathedral is built, and how a town grows up around it. “World Without End” continues the story. She is currently reading John Steinbeck's “East of Eden.”

The North Carolina Literacy Association's calendar designates September as literacy month. To find out more, go to

While waiting in a pediatrician's waiting room, my daughter and I listened as a little girl read a book to all of us who were waiting. She looked so proud.

We eventually noticed that the book was upside down and she was using her imagination to tell us a story. Someday she will learn to read like most of us. And reading will open the doors to a lifetime of learning.