“What’s your favorite book?”
I always laugh at that question, don’t you? You can’t have a favorite book. Every book is different and wonderful in its own way. Most of us could choose twenty ‘favorite’ books very easily, usually without thinking too hard about it.
Well, I have a confession.
I do have a favorite book.
And I shamelessly tell every single person that asks just what they are missing if they haven’t read it. (Yes, I’ve been forcing myself to wait until I had a few others reviewed on this blog before I pulled this one up. It was hard. But I lasted a few weeks, didn’t I?)
How can I explain this book to you? It’s the book I pick up when I’ve overwhelmed and need an escape. It’s the book I read aloud when I need to remember how beautiful words can be. It’s the book I reach for when I need characters that understand me, that think the same way I do.
It’s the book I want to escape into, if I could choose just one to slip into.
I think, of all the books I’ve read, it holds this place in my heart because it is (very obviously) written by someone who loves words and stories as much as I do myself. Cornelia Funke, a German author who doesn’t get nearly enough attention, has captured in its pages exactly what it means to love books, to love stories, and to live in them.
Meggie Folchart is the center of this story, although the characters revolving around her are just as vivid and important to it as she is. A twelve year old girl with a father who has an extraordinary gift—the ability to bring the words on the page to life by reading them aloud. A beautiful—almost enchanting idea, until the reality of what that could mean really becomes clear. Suppose instead of bringing Winnie the Pooh or the Three Blind Mice out of your favorite story, you accidentally open the door for a villain to slip through instead. Who wants to find Professor Moriarty or Long John Silver with his wooden leg and ugly crutch in your bedroom, with no way to get rid of them or send them back where they belong?
And Mo, Meggie’s bookbinding father, finds himself opening the door to a whole slew of unpleasant characters, who quickly steal everything that he loves—including his daughter—away from him.
Inkheart is an intensely fascinating story, but the love and passion the author put into writing it is what keeps me coming back for more. Her prose hints at mastery, something I wouldn’t accuse many authors of, since we are all apprentices in a craft that no one masters. This book is a treasure for anyone who values good writing, thrilling storylines, and characters who will stay with you long after you finish the last page and shut the book.
If you haven’t read it, you’re missing out on what should—and might be one day—considered a classic.
“The words offered up no riches, none of the treasure chests, pearls, and swords set with precious stones that Mo’s voice conjured up, shining and sparkling, until Capricorn’s men felt as if they could pluck them from the air. Something else slipped out of the pages, though, something breathing, a creature made of flesh and blood.”