It occurs to me that, just as we have circles of friendship, so also we sometimes have circles of influence and affection in the books we read. Certain books and authors are like best friends that we revisit again and again: think of those who cherish the novels of Jane Austen, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, the Confessions of Augustine, or the plays of Shakespeare.
Moreover, just as friends come and go through the course of life, so too with books. When I was a teenager I read The Fountainhead eight or nine times, which led eventually to my writing The Tao of Roark; but we simply haven’t kept in touch over the years and its place in my inner circle has been filled by others.
At this point I’d say that my “best friend books” are Aristotle’s Ethics, the Tao Te Ching, Thoreau’s Walden, and the poems of Emily Dickinson. Yet in the coming years I plan to spend much more time with Shakespeare, Montaigne, George Eliot, Jane Austen, and George Santayana, so the list might change.
Which books and authors are some of your best friends?