Quixote (2)

In the long ago, when I loved Between the Lines as a brooding bird her clutch of eggs, I asked some participants what novel should replace the Gideon’s Bible in motels worldwide. It’s one of my favorite questions, and I really do wish I’d asked it of every respondent. Sacrilege is so wholesome, you see. Proffered replacements included Anna Karenina (an interesting choice because Tolstoy increasingly focused on Christian themes in his subsequent work), The Great Gatsby (the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg are watching you), Little, Big (atmospheric mystery, modestly nominated by Crowley himself), and my favorite book never — or not yet? — written: 200 Flawless Short Stories from around the World Nominated by Compassionate Literary Human Beings from every Country Plus a Few Stateless Peoples (a sprawling title, yes, but when David Mitchell coins something, you pocket it). But enough about them. Quixote is my Gideon’s Bibleor rather, my siren call. It doesn’t matter what time it is, either. It can be 2:30 in the morning, as I shuffle down the hallway, groggy and bleary-eyed, to scratch my boy behind the ear. And if I catch a glimpse of that great big red book, it’s over, done, my sleep is kaput. I’m wide awake now. As if my face were awash in the soft glow that emanates from Tarantino’s briefcase. There’s nothing left to do except turn a page or twoor more. What’s your Gideon’s Bible? Your siren call?

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7 Responses to Quixote (2)

  1. R. T. says:

    A critic once suggested that Gabriel Garcia-Marquez’s ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE ought to be required reading for everyone after their reading of GENESIS. While I understand your enthusiasm for DON QUIXOTE, I would humbly argue that Gabo’s masterpiece deserves consideration–not as a replacement for Gideon’s Bible but as a supplement.

  2. Colleen says:

    I fear I’m not a real reader – no book will keep me awake at night, not even Cloud Atlas. But if one did, I’m sure that Cloud Atlas is the one it would be.

  3. Tony says:

    A bound, yet strangely portable, collection of the Barchester Chronicles.

  4. megan says:

    hmmm…an intriguing question. the great gatsby (as suggested above) might be a good choice. maybe two books: gatsby and beloved, for two sides of the unique american experience? the hotel guest could then choose one or just steal both ;).

  5. Here’s an idea: Leaves of Grass.

  6. Kevin Neilson says:

    R.T., a fantastic choice. Agreed.

    Colleen, a slave to sleep? I’m shocked.

    Tony, have long-listed the Chronicles and hope to stumble upon them this weekend at a blowout sale.

    Megan, welcome!

    ET, I’m fairly convinced that Whitman penned Quixote; and Cervantes, Leaves of Grass, as those are my two all-time favorite books.

  7. Danielle says:

    Ask me in a month and I’ll change my answer, but at the moment I think I can confidently say Forster’s a Room with a View–it’s a gentle read yet witty at the same time. It’s subtle but he makes you think as well. I think I could happily pick it up anytime and open to any page and start reading.

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