One Book

"Walden is the only book I own, although there are some others unclaimed on my shelves. Every man, I think, reads one book in his life, and this one is mine. It is not the best book I ever encountered, perhaps, but it is for me the handiest, and I keep it about me in much the same way one carries a handkerchief – for relief in moments of defluxion or despair." (White in The New Yorker, May 23, 1953)

A friend recently invited me to be interviewed on a new literary site (info to come later). He asked me a bunch of questions about reading and writing. When thinking about the answers, I wanted to look back at books I own, but I couldn’t find many of them. Right now my books are scattered around the world, and I feel slightly unsettled because of this.

Some of my books are en route from Germany. Others are in the Oak Park Apartment, while others are in boxes soon to be placed into storage. I don’t like having them in three different places.

This got me thinking about beloved books and the above White quotation.

So I wonder, what’s your "one book"?

Published by Valya

Valya Dudycz Lupescu has been making magic with food and words for more than 20 years, incorporating folklore from her Ukrainian heritage with practices that honor the Earth. She’s a writer, content developer, instructor, and mother of three teenagers. Valya is the author of MOTHER CHRISTMAS, THE SILENCE OF TREES, and the founding editor of CONCLAVE: A Journal of Character. Along with Stephen H. Segal, she is the co-author of FORKING GOOD: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of The Good Place and GEEK PARENTING: What Joffrey, Jor-El, Maleficent, and the McFlys Teach Us about Raising a Family (Quirk Books), and co-founder of the Wyrd Words storytelling laboratory. Valya earned her MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and her poetry and prose have been published in anthologies and magazines that include, The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, Kenyon Review, Culture, Gargoyle Magazine, Gone Lawn, Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium. You can find her on Twitter @valya and on @valya

9 thoughts on “One Book”

  1. traveler64 says:

    This is difficult… I don’t seem able to reduce anything to ‘one’ in this life.


    The one book that I first read as a child (well before the age for such a book)and which I continued to read year after year, understanding a bit more with every year I got older; it was a book already in my parent’s library long before I was born, a pre-war edition, with all the mystique of old paper and print, and that wonderful smell of paper–Arc de Triomphe by Erich Maria Remarque.

    I don’t have that book anymore. It was left behind when we left for the US. But I can still see in the eye of my memory the printed page, the simple cover and the black and white drawing on the cover of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

  2. trillian_stars says:

    I have a few… but if I had to whittle it down to one, it would be the collected Edna St. Vincent Millay that I have, once belonging to my mother. The leaves are full of cards with hand written notes and snippets of articles and it seems like such a living, breathing book. It’s one that, even when I haven’t referenced it in a long time, comforts me by its presence on my bookshelf. It wouldn’t be home without it.

  3. spacedlaw says:

    In English, “Good Omens” – always good for a giggle.
    In French, “Les Trois Mousquetaires” probably.
    In Italian, “Oceano Mare” most likely.

  4. glitter_boobs says:

    The one book is difficult to claim.

    At this point in time (probably for the last 15 years), I would have to say “The Witching Hour” (by Anne Rice). Although, my other book vying for that position is “The Divine Comedy” (by Dante Alighieri).

    My younger self would have said “Wuthering Heights” (by Emily Bronte).

    What a provocative question!

  5. charyvna says:

    I would have to say that the most constant literary touchstone for me over the last 15 years has been Louise Glück’s First Four Books Of Poems.

    Other books have moved me greatly and have shaped my writing and thinking more, but I find myself returning to the poems in this collection again and again like comfort food for thought.

  6. charyvna says:

    Beloved books really do take on a life of their own. My own choice is filled with pressed leaves, flowers, and notes, now as much a part of the book as the words themselves.

  7. carolekingirl says:

    1 Book isn’t enough… My dh saves like every book he’s read… develops a library of boxes of books.
    I on the other hand… give the ones I love away to someone I think would enjoy them. I’ve given WICKED away 4 times. Each time replacing the book so I can give it to someone else.
    By the time I was nine, I had a book list of 4 books that were near and dear to me. So one book is never enough. One book only covers the day, the hour, the current mood that I am in.

  8. charyvna says:

    Now I want to know what were those 4 books near and dear to you?

  9. carolekingirl says:

    Bridge to Terrabithia. Katherine Patterson
    Swiftly tilting planet.. Madeline Lengle
    No such thing as a witch … Ruth Chew
    The boxcar children… _______
    So far I’ve bought 3 copies of american gods.. by neil ga… I keep giving it away…

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