I moved recently and seem to not be able to shut up about it. So I might as well talk some more.
I like to read books, physical books, because I’d have to destroy each one individually by accident to lose them all. I guess there are several other reasons, too, but my point is that I had to move books with me when I was moving. Selecting the books I wanted to bring was hard. I had allocated myself only one box of books maximum to avoid overburdening myself, but one box only holds twenty or so books, and I own well over a thousand.
I selected my books to bring based on aesthetics (I collect the Shambala Pocket Classics and the Barnes and Noble Collectors Library books because they look great on the shelf together), interest (I just picked up the closest books that I thought I wanted to read, which was a lot of nonfiction, which would surprise the me of three years ago), and necessity (I write articles on the internet and do a comic about WWII tanks, so a dictionary and German Tanks of WWII were very much required). I packed these 37 books into a box and took them with me. This was all done in a rush, as I was under a strict time limit.
When I got to my new place I and unpacked everything, I thought nothing of the books and put them on the shelves. It was only later, when going through a bookstore, that I realized I had forgotten something vitally important to me and proceeded to buy one immediately
That was a copy of Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, which is easily my favorite book of all time and must be with me everywhere. I’m not sure the copy matters, but the book does, and knowing that my original copy is sitting somewhere in my library is of great relief to me.
I’m not going to review Of Mice and Men here, though I may do that in the future. I just want to say a few things about why it’s my favorite book and why I had to have it with me at my new place.
I first read Of Mice and Men quite some time ago when I was vacationing in New Mexico. We’d gone to town for an afternoon before returning to our camp and had stopped in a used book store. I’ve always loved cartoons and therefore I’d picked up several newspaper comics collections. I don’t know exactly how I ended up picking up a copy of Steinbeck, but I do remember having seen one at the house before and that it seemed small enough for a person of my age to get through in a reasonable amount of time on a camping trip. (Though either just before or just after reading Of Mice and Men I read Jurassic Park on a week-long vacation). I (my parents) bought the book and I didn’t look at it for the rest of the day, preferring to look at cartoons as they were easier to read in the car. I only opened it when I got back and was about to go the sleep in my tent.
I read that book in three sessions, evening, morning, and evening. All told it took me only a couple of hours and I was thoroughly engrossed. I read that book faster than I have read 100 pages of any other book no matter my interest level. I thought it was amazing on first read.
I noticed a lot of things that generally were present in what I was expected to read (but I read Jurassic Park around that time like I said, so I didn’t exactly do as expected). The book treated the reader like both an intelligent and empathetic person, while using simple enough language that almost anyone could understand it. It wasn’t hard to understand what was going on, what the characters were saying and doing, and why they were doing it. But it still managed to make the relationships between them very interesting and developed. The various themes of the novel are presented in a way that packs quite a few thought-provoking observations and events into a small package without beating the reader over the head with them. In that way it made me feel more than any book or story that simply tells me something happened. I cared for and understood why George and Lenny made the decisions they made.
I didn’t really notice the swearing when I first read it. They say “bitch” a lot. I only really noticed it when I read it in a class in middle school, and the kids each read a page out loud. Everyone said something to cover up the swear words (I never read, because I never wanted too, but I would’ve just read them, and that would’ve surprised some people I knew, I bet). That made me realize how well the book goes together and how much not including everything takes away from it. Every word in the book is tied to every other word, getting all the information across in the fastest and best possible way. Adding any word would be a mistake, as would taking out any word.
The book, in length (just over 100 pages), language, character development, and overall story is absolutely perfect, at least in my opinion. It is most certainly my favorite book and, like my favorite movie (the Great Escape), nothing has even come close to knocking it down. Having a copy with me at all times reminds me what the best I’ve ever seen of something is. And reading it each time is as enjoyable and sad and thought-provoking as the last. It is a wonderful book that I believe everyone should have a copy of. It’s certainly small enough to not be a bother, but the impact it leaves is far more than its mass would indicate.