If you’re a bibliophile, then you know how I am feeling right now about this question: I’m twisting my mind into a series of sailor’s knots over it, wondering how to answer. This is a deceptively difficult one to really pin down!
Since this meme nicely covers other categories which could be described as “favourite” book, I’ll just be frank about which book I hold most dearly and can always re-read, over and over again: The Summer Book, or Sommarboken, by Tove Jansson. It’s the deceptively simple story of a girl, Sophia, who lives out a summer with her father and grandmother on an island in the Baltic Sea, by the author of the popular Moomintroll comics.
I dislike people who are constantly searching for a really peculiar brand of what they describe as “authenticity”, but authentic perfectly describes the mood of The Summer Book. There’s no Hallmark sentiment to this story about a girl whose mother has just died and her bonding with her grandmother over one summer, in fact, if you’re not careful, you could entirely miss the character development which occurs in the book, because of how subtly it progresses. There are no grand epiphanies or letters to Princess Celestia about the valuable lessons summer taught us, but Sophia and her grandmother both end up growing tremendously as people.
Their adventures on the island are akin to the feeling one encounters when looking in the wrong end of a telescope; a sense of taking something massive and powerful, and shrinking it down to the miniscule and deceptively distant. The only other author I can think of who is capable of pulling that off is Roald Dahl. It’s not at all plot-heavy, but not everything has to be in order to be profound and enjoyable. Reading The Summer Book is akin to spending a hot summer’s day at the beach: Some people may think of it as a luxury, I think of it as a time of restoration and renewal.