Do You Like Identifying Your “Favorite?” I Don’t.

Every once in a while, I put my finger on something that bugs me. This sounds as though it might make me unhappy, but in fact, this greater clarity about my own nature makes me much happier.

For instance, I remember the tremendous relief I felt when I noticed a pattern among certain books, plays, and movies that I dislike. For instance, I can’t stand to read or watch Oliver Twist, The Fugitive, Atonement, Othello. Can you see the pattern?

It’s the theme of unjust accusation. I can’t stand the theme of unjust accusation. I’ve never seen the movie The Shawshank Redemption, even though people keep telling me that it’s a great happiness-related movie, because of the unjust accusation. It’s a little sad to realize that we can’t encompass everything–I find it very painful to relinquish the fantasy that with enough effort, I could appreciate everything, even unjust accusation, which appears so often–but it’s also very freeing. (I must confess, however, that my various book groups sometimes get impatient with my question, “Does this book have unjust accusation?” Usually I can smell it a mile away.)

Once I realize what I don’t like, I can avoid it (more or less).

The same thing happened with pesto. And with drinking alcohol. And with board games.

Just today, I realized something else that bugs me. I dislike being asked to identify my “favorite.” Some people seem to love this exercise. Favorite book, favorite movie, favorite restaurant, favorite memory.

I, however, find this exercise distressing. First of all–how can I possibly pick something like a “favorite” book? It’s impossible! And to me, picking a “favorite” somehow makes all the other options seem less interesting. I don’t even like picking something like a favorite part of the day. Sometimes, like Maria, I’ll pick a few of my favorite things–but I can rarely pick just one favorite.

But some people love to consider questions like this.

How about you? Do you enjoy identifying your favorite, or not?

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  • Sara

    I love identifying my favorite things. It does get tricky with books, movies, or TV shows though because how do you choose just one favorite?! I enjoy rating things (especially food!) and organizing things, so for me, choosing a favorite is linked to those as well.

  • Cathrine McLaren

    I thought I was the only one! So glad to hear there is another who hates the “favorite game”. I don’t have a favorite color, although certain ranges of color are more appealing than others. Books, movies; this is like asking me to pick a favorite child. I think the most interesting question is why most people feel compelled to pick a favorite.

  • http://www.popdose.com/ DwDunphy

    A handful of favorites usually equates to a very dull and narrow existence.

  • Gunilla

    Interesting question. I never have wanted to identify a “best friend”. I have several. Why create a hierarchy?

    • Nicole

      Having a hierarchy and using the “best friend” label makes some of us happy and secure in our expectations of who we are to specific people. I have my best friend, my two other very close friends, my three closest local friends, and various other friends who are not as close. Obviously, I don’t go around announcing to everyone where I feel they are situated in my own personal hierarchy; I simply know who to confide in, and who to support and vice versa, and at what level. I have a good idea who’ll step up if, say, one of my parents dies or my husband divorces me – and I know who I’d “do” for in return. There’s comfort in that. I find that old saying “The friend to everyone is the friend to no one” to be true.

  • Susie Baker

    Agree completely with knowing what bugs you so that you may avoid it. Also agree with you on the ‘What’s your favorite’ question… It all started when I was a kid and people would ask me who my favorite parent is and then, who my favorite teacher is… I think it’s just a stupid question people ask when they don’t know what else to ask.

  • Amy Anderson

    Ditto! It becomes a problem for those pesky internet security questions.

  • Earl Dizon

    I have 38 favorite books (so far).

  • Rachel Ruhlen

    A couple years ago my teenage daughter & I started a tradition (not sure whose idea it was) of writing a sentence or two about the highlight of our day. I quickly learned that if I was the one who remembered to do it that day, I shouldn’t ask “What was your highlight today?” but instead, “What was a highlight today?” or “What were some highlights today?” She also doesn’t like to pick just one. We include her Dad if he’s around at the right time, and he won’t answer unless it is phrased just like that either.

    I don’t have a problem picking out just one highlight. It doesn’t mean it’s my favorite. It just means it’s the one I happened to think of. That bothers my daughter & husband, but it doesn’t bother me.

    On a similar note to Oliver Twist, for my husband it’s anything where someone gets embarrassed. He hates most sit-coms because frequently the humor is found in someone embarrassing themselves or being embarrassed.

    I really dislike tv shows that have bombs with count-downs, or other triggers that are pretty far-fetched and scream “plot device”. I don’t like the tension and it’s so blatantly artificial it really annoys me.

  • http://www.middlefingerproject.com/ aimee@middlefingerproject

    Oh my goodness. I thought I was the only one!!!

  • http://www.no14plusminus.ro/ Gleen Caryne Chavous

    Of one thing I am absolutely sure: Gretchen Rubin IS my favorite writer ever. There’s not even a doubt about it.

    • gretchenrubin

      Awwww, that’s a favorite that I DO like! I so appreciate that.

  • JaneInAZ

    Although I don’t think in terms of favorites, my brother used to ask this and it always felt like he wanted to know you better. But it would be a limited topic, so answerable after a little consideration. For example, at the end of my first day at Disneyland, age 56, “What was your favorite ride?” I remember this in particular, because he was disappointed in my answer: Dumbo (I’d wanted to ride it for 50 years). I always thought “what’s your favorite?” was a great conversation sparker, but now I see, like many other things, it depends on your audience. Thanks for the memory.

  • Ago

    Umm…I totally have the exact same feeling about unjust accusation in lit/film. It’s visceral and I hate it and it makes me so very stressed out.

  • Jami

    Inevitably, I say something is my” favorite” and I immediately think of another that could be my “favorite” as well. I think favorites change with emotions, environment, and situations. Therefore, I hate this question as well. Why do we have to commit to “favorites” it just isn’t fare.

  • Kristen

    Absolutely hate the favorite question, along with many others, I see. :)

    I don’t happen to feel the same about stories involving unjust accusation–I was a big fan of Oliver Twist and The Fugitive–but I can’t stand stories that revolve around the “mob mentality.” The Doctor Who episode “Midnight” is my least favorite for exactly that reason, despite the fact that I found it to be one of the more well written episodes. I don’t actually go out of my way to avoid this type of storyline, mostly because I think it’s good to try to understand that aspect of human nature so that I can try to avoid it in real life, but I do understand that anything involving mobs of people is going to evoke a particular reaction from me.

    • gretchenrubin

      If you’re interested in this aspect of human nature, look at the book CROWDS AND POWER by Elias Canetti.
      That book will make your brain explode on this subject.

      In fact…if I haven’t already done so, I’m going to suggest it for my book club. It’s an astonishing book. got to check my list.

      • Kristen

        I will definitely have to check that out. The subject interests me at least as much as it makes me incredibly uncomfortable.

  • lavendermintrose

    I have a hard time picking a favorite book/movie/series, but what comes easier is picking my favorite part of a series/work. That one scene or element that just makes me love the thing, that just jumps out at me. But whenever a profile asks me to pick my favorite book or movie, I end up with a list of 10-20. Picking favorite characters ends up the same (though I usually have one favorite and about 10-15 second-favorites).
    If you don’t like those things, you would not like the middle book in one of my favorite series. It contains unjust accusation, pesto, and a werewolf who isn’t affected by alcohol finding something else to do the trick. . . . it also contains the start of an adorable werewolf romance subplot ^_^;

  • Jomama

    I always felt like the knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail, who gets asked “what’s your favorite color?” who gives one answer and then changes it and gets blown away! I like to change my favorites too, and I have the personality type that I like questions with one clear, consistent answer. So glad you mentioned this!

  • Sarah Spitz

    Great question. I read an interesting article recently about how the second best might actually make us more happy:

    http://lasagnolove.blogspot.de/2013/10/have-wonderful-weekend_11.html

    Love from Germany,
    Bambi

  • Laura Keller

    I love thinking about what my favourite things are … but often they are “one” of my favourites rather than the absolute favourite.

  • No Favs

    So happy to see this post! I can never pick favorites. I’m hard pressed to name even one category where I could legitimately choose a hands-down favorite that never wavers. People often ask me my favorite place to live (I’ve moved a lot) or favorite food, etc. No answer! It all depends on the moment and what I value right that minute. Even if there is an answer, it will be different the next time you ask!

  • HEHink

    A few fleeting thoughts…

    1) Love the picture, as The Sound of Music actually may be my all-time favorite movie! I, too, have trouble picking favorites, especially from an extremely large pool, but less so from narrower categories (e.g., favorite musical, favorite romantic comedy, favorite Disney-Pixar, etc.)

    2) You have mentioned that you like to make lists, and I wonder if that correlates with not liking to pick one favorite. It might be easier for list-makers to come up with top-10 (or other number of) favorites.

    3) Now that I’m thinking about it, the theme of unjust accusation does make me a bit uncomfortable, but I did enjoy The Shawshank Redemption because of the redemption aspect of it – for the unjustly as well as justly accused. I also enjoyed it because it was a Stephen King movie that was accessible for me. I admire his writhing, but there is a lot of his work that I won’t read or watch because I so dislike the horror genre. (Which is probably fairly obvious given that I like The Sound of Music so much :-)

  • http://www.janaleemiller.com/ Jana @ 333 Days of…..

    me too! I have lots of favorites :)

  • http://www.pack-your-passport.com/ Beverley Reinemann

    I also hate being asked to pick my “favourite” thing! How can I possibly decide when my options and opinions are changing everyday, just like I’m changing and growing everyday?!

  • M

    I also dislike picking a favorite! I struggle thinking on the spot so sometimes when I pick a favorite, it’s not even really my all-time favorite but instead what popped into my mind when asked! I remember this feeling when I met a (ex) significant other’s father for the first time. At dinner he had the three of us go around in a circle and name our favorite books. It was a combination of two things I hate – listing favorites and the go-around-in-a-circle style ice breakers. I CAN’T STAND those ice breakers. Very stressful to me.

    • Leslie

      I hate those ice breakers, too! And I usually spend so much time trying to decide what I’ll say when it’s my turn, that I miss what everyone else says anyway, so what’s the point?

  • http://www.mrjoiee.com/ Joiee Birch

    I don’t much like being asked to pick a favourite of anything either if I’m honest, but then I’ve never been great at making decisions – how can you expect me to just pick one of something when there’s so many options? haha

    http://www.mrjoiee.com

  • sopranomom

    So glad I’m not the only one who is not really fond of board games!

    • Elise

      This is not so much related to the post but I just wanted to say that I often times feel sorry for my husband who doesn’t like board games or cards and he will get hounded at family gatherings to play. I love them and I want to play and I just never understand why people don’t just leave people alone when they don’t like them! What is that all about?! Ha ha!

  • mdawne

    Same, same. My MIL asked me my favorite color (orange) when I was engaged, and now I wish I hadn’t told her! It is ONE of my favorites, but I don’t feel like every decoration in my house needs to be that color. She sees orange, thinks of me, and buys me a pillow/blanket/painting because she knows it’s my favorite. I’m kind of tired of the color!

    • Peninith1

      I’d be tempted to announce a ‘new favorite’ quite often!

    • Denise Baca

      I agree, I would say over the years my tastes have changed and change your favorite color to something else.

  • peninith1

    The favorite question is pretty irritating, to a person who has wide tastes and likes a lot of things. I prefer the ‘what are your desert island disks (record albums)?’ . . . i.e. what would you choose to have with you on a desert island. My island would be very stuffed with books and music.
    As for the theme of unjust accusation–I find that such a pervasive reality in life that I am very glad art deals with it so thoroughly. I HOPE people are made deeply uncomfortable about such injustice, and thus are motivated to change the horrible injustices that are visited on innocent people every day. I would say that Verdi’s opera ‘Otello’ is one of my (many) favorites because it brings that point home so powerfully.
    Me, I deeply dislike sad, sentimental tales about animals and their sufferings. I am not a huge pet or animal lover, either. I guess that the ‘universal theme’ that distresses me there is the capacity of sentient creatures for suffering, despite their (or our) inability to understand or stop it.

  • Tina Carbaugh Tedder

    It’s hard to identify my favorite because it changes all the time depending on my mood and what else might be going on in my life. My favorite food changes with the seasons and so does my choice of music. So I guess I don’t like the question, “What is your favorite…?”

  • joey

    I don’t think you can avoid having those questions asked of you, but answer a different question instead. What’s my favorite book? Answer which book you can quickly think of as worthwhile discussing. The less effort spent in trying to pick one, the more free you are to find a good way to engage in the conversation.

  • Teresa Tackett Hardymon

    I do love to think about my favorites. Although, I usually have a few and find it hard to narrow down to just one. But even if I have to pick just one, that is ok, because I know that tomorrow I can choose another or as many as I want. Funny that this is your topic because this month I am writing about my favorites for the 31 day writing challenge.

  • Sumedha Vemuri

    I agree. I like enjoying a lot of small things in life, and I feel each is special in their own way. So calling something my favourite, and not so favourite is like putting a permanent label on things, which I find completely unnecessary.

  • LP

    So thought I was the only one who finds it an impossible task to choose a favourite book! ;)

  • cruella

    I’m not that literal. If asked about a favourite, I simply think about something that I really like and I’m not above giving more than one.
    Sure, the theme of unjust accusation can be distressing, but I would never ever not have wanted to read To Kill a Mockingbird. That’s a favourite, by the way.

    • gretchenrubin

      Yes, I LOVE To Kill a Mockingbird. Even me, even with all the unjust accusation.
      When one of my book groups chose it, I had to FORCE myself to reread it, then I loved it.

  • MandaStay

    After reading the other comments, it appears that I’m in the minority. I ADORE being asked my favorites and/or any other probing question that makes me think about and examine myself. It’s like a puzzle. Does this mean my self-centeredness is showing?

    • gretchenrubin

      Because of the popularity of the question, I think that many (or maybe most) people do enjoy being asked this question, despite the comments here!
      And it’s certainly fun to read or hear someone’s answers.

  • Isaan

    Talking about my favorites or preferences really bugs me. Being asked a direct question requiring a yes or a no also tends to annoy me, because I feel as if I had to choose something life defining… for ever. I call myself “Miss Yes, but…”. Someone made me realise once that I had this need to be fair in all circomstances, that I also was afraid to give a “wrong answer”. And I know that I often wonder if there’s a catch in this type of questions. Maybe it’s a lack of trust, but I suspect it to be more a lack of self confidence.

  • Val

    Clearly this resonates with a lot of us! Seems like we’re mostly in agreement that picking “a” favorite may put us on the spot and force us to pick out of a potential plethora of favorites. I like the idea of “a few of my favorites” and will share with my boy’s teacher. They force the favorite question at school “favorite color, game, book” and just the other day my 7 year old said to me “Mom, I couldn’t answer the question right because I don’t have a favorite color, I have 2 favorites!” The fact he was stressed about answering that “wrong” speaks to your blog Gretchen so thank you!

    P.S, I do keep a few “favorite” quotes handy… Mostly from your daily posts. Love Churchill and Johnson quotes!

  • Sarah

    Actually i can’t stand being asked the “favorite” question either. It seems like such a dumb question. If someone is trying to get to know you with that question they are better off asking what kinds of (insert subject matter) you like. It seems to be a social norm, so i dont get too upset though it does seem ridiculous to me.

  • Denise Baca

    I have never given this much thought until now, but I don’t really get bothered too much by being asked to give a “favorite” answer to anything. I happen to be one of those obsessive list makers, so when asked about a favorite book or movie or anything, I usually answer with: well that’s a good question, I have quite a few, and I will list a couple of them. For me it’s like asking who your favorite child is. If they don’t like my response, oh well, don’t ask me a question that puts me on the spot. And to the one commenter’s opinion about having a handful of favorites means a dull and narrow existence, I completely disagree. I would say that a person has an enriched life with a wide variety of tastes. Nothing dull or narrow about that.

  • Debbie

    I had never thought of this before, but this really hits home. I’ve been traveling Internationally some this year and people always ask “what was your favorite part of the trip?” It stresses me out – too much pressure to pick one or two things when the whole trip itself was awesome. Glad there are others out there that also dislike the question!

  • Janice

    I hate “favorite” questions too. They all are grounded in the assumption that there is a limited range of choices– as though you’ve only read a few books, or there are only a few colors, songs or memories. Small children might have favorites, but if we are really awake and aware and embracing life as we grow, we end up with tons of pleasures and people that we love. I realize — here’s another category for you, Gretchen — there are people who want to take questions seriously, and so resent questions like this; and people who just don’t care. I like the comment below about answering a different question instead. It seems to strike a balance between my wanting to be serious and yet not caring so much that I lose sight of the context: someone’s attempt to open up a conversation.(Apart from those security questions of course. And I also hate board games, probably for the same reason, simplistic view of the world.)

  • Kathy Urich

    I have never thought about liking or disliking the question. I do have clear favorites for example music. My favorite band is Led Zeppelin I have no problem declaring this. However I’m often asked what is my favorite Zep album and I can’t choose, same issue with favorite song. In the end its a mixed bag.

  • David Laprise

    I also have a problem with picking favorites. My thing is music. I have a huge collection and a home studio and I used to DJ. I do have favorites, but way to many to list them meaningfully.

    Also when I was a kid my favorite food was lasagna. I still love it but there’s so many foods to love and for various reasons. Oh but wait, I recently had a piece of red velvet cake and it instantly became my favorite cake! I rarely eat cake though.

  • Susan McMeekin

    I rarely deal in superlatives, but I do indulge in assessing and curating a ” few of my favorite things” such as “favorite” family photos, heirlooms and stories that will be shared with future generations.

  • Lou wallis

    It’s such a lame concept. If you’ve read more than a dozen books, seen more than a dozen films, etc., the “favorites” is an exquisitely silly task. A favorite sweater, sure, but why pinch your experiences to satisfy a stupid poll?

  • Lu

    I agree wholeheartedly!

  • Molly

    I’m not sure how I feel about being asked my favorite, though I do agree it is difficult to pick a favorite in most things. I actually do like questions like, “If you were forced to shop at one store…eat at one restaurant, etc., which would it be?” Is this just a “what’s your favorite” disguised? Now that I’m writing, maybe:)

  • Emily

    I agree with the folks who like the desert island approach to picking favorites–like top five or ten. Only if forced, though–I do not really like it. Strangely, though, I love playing a game that my brother and I made up years ago, called “What do you like better?” I guess a simple comparison between two things doesn’t seem to leave out every other thing in the same way that picking a favorite does. No matter what, though, my dad’s favorite saying seems apt: “Comparisons are odious.”

  • Deborah

    I HATE being asked to name my favorite whatever. It can make me instantly irritable and stressed, which is probably a form of anxiety (oh no! If I name *that* one, will someone take away *that* one?)

  • Susan Turner

    One favourite banishes all the other great things. I am for as much of a flow of smiles and laughter each day as possible!

  • jennie

    I find that I can name large concepts: I love to read, travel, spend time with my grandchildren, good food. But I can’t be specific, because I’m fickle and always change my mind. Today my favorite food is Italian ( and that’s pretty broad too, favorite book The Good Earth…..

  • Randee Bulla

    When people ask me my favorite, I usually just say “YES!!” with gusto. That usually elicits a laugh and the conversation either moves to someone/something else, or we discuss all the wonderful options of that particular topic.

  • Lisa

    Hurrah! I hate that question more than any other. Glad to know I’m not the only one.

  • Cynthia

    I almost always enjoy reading your posts, but I don’t always identify with them. However I can personally identify with both of the things you mention in this post! There are few things that get me more riled than an unjust accusation — or a false accusation. I also don’t like being asked to choose or identify a favorite (i.e., ONE favorite); I have LOTS of favorites, and am constantly adding to, and occasionally subtracting from, my lists of favorites (although I don’t actually keep a list anywhere) — favorite books, favorite movies, favorite bands, etc.

  • Sandi Wood Knowles

    I’m with you, Gretchen. I hate trying to choose a favorite. I can never answer that question. Well, except for favorite color, but that’s the only one I have ever been able to answer.

  • Shari

    I have always felt uncomfortable choosing one thing as my favorite. I thought it was just me. Glad to know I’m not alone.

  • Sadye

    I love your combination of things you dislike. Cracked me up. Anyways, in a lot of cases (favorite restaurant, favorite bar, favorite book), I find the number of possible answers overwhelming — but when it’s something limited (colors or beer brands, since I’m not a big beer drinker) I can handle it OK.

  • Melinda

    I don’t like favorites much either. It gets easier to consider if I ask which thing I like better today, but still, I always enjoy the differences in things. I like hot days, and snowy days both, so how can I choose? But for today I am enjoying the sunshine. I do like contrasts, so sometimes one type of favorite is so vexing! In my work as a music teacher the students ask me my favorite songs, composers, instruments, so I reply with what I am enjoying today. This has helped me survive my many students who are favorite loving people.

  • Nafise

    Actually choosing just one FAVORITE is really difficult in some concepts (Specially the ones that are related to feeling) . But I can easily name some of my favorite books, movies, color, etc…

  • Jah780

    My problem is that most topics have too many categories…and sub-categories. People are always asking me who my favorite guitarist is. Are we talking, classical, jazz, blues, R&B, funk, rock?…Or subcategories like fusion, folk-rock, jazz-rock, classical-jazz, etc.?
    Mind mind has favorites in categories for music, musicians, books and movies, travel destinations and on and on, so I can never give a straight answer.
    And it is not in my nature to give a “short answer” that is really not the truth.
    So, my answer is…..I don’t!

  • Christy King

    I’m relatively neutral about it, but my now 13-year old son has NEVER identified favorites. All his life, he has flat-out refused.

  • Karen H. Phillips

    Whenever I’m asked my favorite anything, I qualify it in some way, such as, “that’s my fave novel about ___,” or “that’s my fave most recent song I’ve heard on Christian radio.” There are SO many things I enjoy, why pick only one, in any category?

  • Steven

    ‘What’s your favourite?’ A very common conversation starter but one of the worst. Not only won’t I play it but then the comments start. ‘But everyone has a favourite!’. I have likes, even great likes, but a favourite – never!

  • Jennifer Mitchell

    When someone asks my favorite color I say, “All of them! It depends on the context.” As you can tell, I am resistant to picking favorites too.

    • Klyla

      In the ’70s, it was yellow, in the ’80s-early ’90s it was blue, in the late ’90s-last year it was purple….I’m getting tired of purple and being attracted to red. My closest friend is a shopaholic and compulsive giver and has officially worn purple out for me by giving me everything under the sun in purple. I’m thinking about not telling her about the red…..just letting her know I’m tired of purple! I find people can actually ruin a favorite for me!

  • Jenny

    I love and am passionate about so many things. I feel like a conversation hog when I begin to address the “favorites” questions. It seems like a social crutch used when one can’t think of more interesting topics to discuss. Really, you want to hear about my favorite vacation spot? Let me tell you about the first ten spots I love that pop into my mind…

  • Ellen

    I love this! My kids are always asking me about my favorite song, book, restaurant ect. I squirm and can’t name a thing. I can pick a category that’s a favorite, such as in dark chocolate in the overall chocolate column.

  • Allison

    I don’t like being asked the ‘what’s your favorite’ question, mostly because I’m forever changing my mind BUT I do like to ask the question of my kids and their friends. Filling a lull in the conversation in the car with ‘what’s your favorite Disney movie, or sport to play or food to eat…” gets them all animated (and gives me a few ideas for birthday gifts :o)

  • philip

    I’m with you and Maria. But you really should see Shawshank. Because, I know you read and enjoyed The Count of Monte Cristo.

  • http://happinessadvocate.wordpress.com/ Sarah The Happiness Advocate

    I’m the same way, which might be why I’m a Social Worker! Don’t read the book “A Lesson Before Dying” by Earnest Gaines. My husband found me sobbing on the couch for all the reasons you wrote about here when I read that book.

  • John McWib

    Yes … me too. it’s putting everything in neat little boxs someplace and diminishes everything.

  • Ken

    I agree with this article. Having to identify something as my favourite tends to lead me to saying that, for me, it is essentially impossible. If forced I will probably go with something like “Well, SOME of my favourites are…” which usually is enough, unfortunately not always.

  • BKF

    Wow, you hit a nerve here, Gretchen! I don’t usually have concrete answers to the “favorites” question either. However, I think it’s helpful to look at the intention of the question. The other person is usually trying to be friendly and find out more about me (which is better than some completely self-centered conversations we have all been stuck in!) Sometimes, people may say things that are not worded exactly right to express what the spirit of what they mean. I recently read this (paraphrased) conversation in “The People of the Book” by Geraldine Brooks. A man has recently lost his young, ailing son, and the protagonist finds this out from a friend of his during a phone call. She asks him, “Is he doing all right?” The man snaps back,” He is a man who has just lost his only child. Of course, he isn’t doing alright. But if you mean, will he jump into (the nearest river), he won’t do that.” It’s a bit of an extreme example but we all understand that she didn’t mean to be offensive and the response was probably too harsh.

    I admire you for your self-awareness in noticing your reactions to these situations- I had not previously identified the uneasy feelings that these questions give me when taken too literally. I too very strongly dislike stories with unjust accusations but hadn’t consciously realized it until I came across your writing. By the way, I bought a box-cutter on your recommendation and I love having it! Too, I’m reading the Saturdays, one of your previous recommendations with my daughter, and we are really enjoying it. Thanks so much for broadening our horizons!

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so happy to hear that my work resonates with you. And also to hear that you’re enjoying The Saturdays! It was so hard to pick one book from Elizabeth Enright, they are all so good.

      • BKF

        I had never heard of it but I did not grow up here in the U.S. (I read a lot of Enid Blyton books growing up.) Just a suggestion- you may already have a section on your blog with all your book club picks in one place and I just haven’t found it. If not, it’d be really helpful as I don’t get to the books every month, and I find myself scrolling through numerous blog posts looking for your book recommendations. I really like your picks and try to read them when I can. Thanks for considering this idea!

        • gretchenrubin

          That’s a great idea.

          In the meantime, you can always search in the Archives (right-hand column), “Select Category” for “Book Club” to get all the posts with the suggestions.

          • BKF

            Thanks, that helps!

      • Elizabeth

        Just had to chime in to say that I ADORE The Saturdays, and all Enright’s books. The Melendy books are among the ones that made me want to live in NYC.

        And I don’t like picking favorites either. For example, I have TEN favorite David Bowie records! I can’t pick one favorite David Bowie record, let alone one favorite record!

  • Kasandra

    I feel like the favorites question is akin to asking, “do you like apples or the rest of the world? ” Unless the category is drilled down, it’s an exercise I find unpleasant.

  • Ana

    Yes! i feel the same about favorites…so penned in and put on the spot, it makes me anxious…yet I never identified the feeling until I read this. My 3-year old son keeps asking me what my favorite color is, I change it every time he asks, because I truly love most colors in different contexts. He doesn’t get that, he will tell anyone who will listen about his love for pink and purple. It almost seems like a childish trait, to cling so stubbornly to your “favorites”, I assume most adults have a huge variety of colors, foods, books, etc… that they love.

  • TJ

    I too like to ponder the reasons for my dislikes. It helps to clarify why I think a certain way, and once I have to answer, then I am more clear in my boundaries with myself and others (gee, I really don’t have to watch violent superhero movies even if they are popular and others want to see them). That is why I take the “what is your favorite?” question as the flip-side of the “what do I dislike?” question. Pondering the reasons why I like something is just as revealing as asking myself why I dislike something. Plus, once you realize the reason you really like doing something, then you can do more of it! Both sides of the coin are worth investigating.

  • Deborah

    I hate that question too! It’s ridiculous! I like a lot of things and like things at different times and for different reasons. I would have to break up my likes by genre and time of year and mood? It’s a crazy question. Thank you:)

  • Robyn

    You must see Shawshank – an uplifting story about hope and inner peace.

    • Ophelia

      That’s just the point; Gretchen doesn’t like the uncomfortable feeling that is going on BEFORE the hope and the inner peace part become evident. I say DON’T see it. Just because Robyn and I enjoyed it, Gretchen is letting Gretchen BE Gretchen, and not watching it. Yea!! I won’t watch movies where kids are being stalked or victimized. Sorry, just not going to do it. Life is too short.

  • cineplex

    Picking a favourite paralyzes my brain…! favourite – in which mood or mode?

  • Kate

    Oh, I don’t worry about it too much! I just pick what pops into my head when asked (favourite book: The Constant Gardner, favourite TV show: M*A*S*H, favourite food: corn on the cob) then add the caveat, “…this week” ;)

  • Vanessa W

    Picking favorites also annoys me. It depends on my frame of mind, time of day, etc. I remember blowing a coworker’s mind when she asked what kind of books I like to read & I told her – whatever captures my interest. If you can make quantum physics interesting to me, I’ll read your book. The coworker couldn’t understand why I didn’t like ‘just’ romances or ‘just’ mysteries or ‘just’ science fiction, etc. With all those interesting books out there, how can I choose just one or just one genre. How limiting.

  • Dana Claire Novak

    This goes along with the uncomfortable feeling I get when making decisions. I will scrutinize my answer and even just coming up with one out of the blue is impossible. I feel a sense of guilt without a “source” or options to choose from. Illogical, but I have OCD which is the ultimate in illogical.

  • Candy

    Unjust accusation is everywhere and it is painful to experience and witness, but i do think it is important to embrace the reality rather than avoid it. Why? Because then it becomes less painful. An example is that on any given day you or I could be unjustly accused covertly by someone else’s unspoken judgment of us. It may or may not be perceivable by the other person’s expression, but “thoughts unspoken are not thoughts unknown.” So initially, if i feel judged my someone, i may feel unjustly accused and offended. But if i stay with that and reframe it so as to understand that the accusation has more to do with the other person than with me, i can minimize the pain it may have caused me. Along this line, a “favorite” is a value judgment, so there are the favored and the unfavored which leaves someone or something out. I, too, tend to like many things rather than one-there are too many things to like or favor to just pick one!