My Favorite Book: Guest Blog from Ana Grilo

Woman lying in grass reading a book

We’re happy to have our first guest blogger on The Alibris Blog and it’s Ana Grilo no less! A wonderful book blogger who helps run the highly informative and very fun The Book Smugglers.

We asked her what her favorite book is and here’s what she shared with us.

I fully admit: I get stumped every time I am asked to talk about my favorite book.

Because I don’t have one.

I mean, how could I condense the importance of books to my life into one single receptacle?

My first memory relating to books is a very old one; I was probably 4-5 years old. I don’t remember the name of the book or much about it, but I know there was a proud rooster that had something stain its beak and he went around asking for different friends to help him clean it. I don’t remember anything else but I do remember I asked my grandfather – who used to take care of me while my parents were working – to read it to me after school every single day. And he did, with the patience of a saint. Whenever I remember my childhood or my grandfather, it is those afternoons reading that book that come to mind.

The Little Prince cover imageI was a little bit older for this next bookish memory, at around 9-10. I really wanted my mother to get me The Little Prince by Antoine de SaintExupéry and she kept saying no, insisting I was too young to understand the book and that I should wait another two years. I pestered her until she caved. I read it and realized my mother was right – I did not fully understand the book, but I loved it anyway. I’ve read it multiple times after that until I was about 15 and each time I discovered something new. My mother was awesome: she’d give me advice but if she saw I had my mind made up about something, she’d listen to me.

I broke my arm when I was twelve in the middle of the summer school holidays. This happened to coincide with renovations being done to our flat and all of my books were packed inside huge boxes kept out of my way. I was sitting around being a miserable sod listening to all of my friends playing outside when I noticed a smaller box I could reach and open. Inside was my mother’s Agatha Christie’s book collection. I picked up the one on the top (without any regard for the series’ publication order: young-me, what were you thinking?) and that happened to be Dumb Witness. It was the first adult book I ever read and over the course of that summer, I read all of Agatha Christie’s books apart from Curtain (I still haven’t read that one, by the way. Je refuse! ). Incidentally, I do have a favorite Christie book and it’s Crooked House. I remember being in awe when I learnt who the killer was and thinking: children can be creepy killers too?

Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie cover imageBeing now able to read adult books opened up a whole new world to me:  I became a truly voracious reader and soon turned to non-fiction. I had a preference for books about archaeology and mythology. One day, when I was 15 and reading Gods, Graves and Scholars, an old school history of archaeology book by C W Ceram over our lunch break in school and I was called into the school counsellor’s office.  It has been brought to her attention that I … “read too much” and seemingly very worried, asked what was wrong with me. What a novel idea: to read too much. This was one of the most important moments of my life: when I realized adults could be stupid.

I could go on and on. But just wanted to say: in a way it is impossible to disconnect the content of those books with the very reality of them. Those books and the moments created around the act of reading were extremely important to shape the person I am today. Whether I loved them or not is of no importance here (even though I did really love most of them).

A favorite book? How does one choose only one favorite when your memories are laced with important moments that are intrinsically connected to so many books? I can’t.

Ana Grilo is a Brazilian living in the UK, where she moved to because of the weather. No, seriously. Together with her evil partner in crime, Thea James, she runs The Book Smugglers, where they review Spec Fiction and YA. World domination via book reviewing is their main agenda. You can also find her manning their Twitter account or writing for their weekly Kirkus column.