I see Terry has ambushed me when I wasn’t looking! I like the questions, but I’m going to take my sweet time answering them: I’ll field a question a day over the course of this week, moving from easiest to hardest. A few of you have already written with your own answers; keep them coming and we’ll post a selection of readers’ responses next week.
For the purposes of the first question, “What book have you owned longest?” I’ll only count the books that live with me, not those that still reside in my parents’ house. 99% of the books with me here in Chicago date from my college career or later. Of the handful of older books, the oldest by far is a hardcover copy of Ellen Raskin’s Newberry Medal winner The Westing Game, published in 1978. Twenty-five years–not too shabby. Why, that’s as long as some very accomplished bloggers have been around!
I wonder whether kids are still reading this book. It’s a deeply silly and extremely devious mystery about an elaborate game created by an eccentric millionaire to decide who will inherit his fortune. When I discovered it, I thought I had died and gone to literary heaven.
As much as I adored The Westing Game, there were other books I loved as well, and I’m not sure why it’s the only one of its vintage in Chicago. I can’t remember making a conscious decision to bring it with me, and I haven’t taken it off the shelf in recent memory, until today.
Some runners-up from the high school years: a well-worn paperback copy of Alain-Fournier’s amazing The Wanderer (Le Grand Meaulnes in french); Charles Baxter’s Harmony of the World; the Norton Heart of Darkness, complete with embarrassing marginalia; and, natch, some Raymond Carver.