favorite(s)

To say something is your favorite________ is difficult. Remember the quizzes you'd take in magazines like Sassy or YM which told you the kind of musical instrument represented you or how to tell if you were a poser? (Remember those magazines in their glory?) I subscribed to both and loved the irreverence of Sassy and the make-up tips in YM. Besides, all my friends read YM and I was trying, like all 12 year old girls to fit in. It was articles in Sassy, though, that encouraged me to question my drive to fit in, to challenge the culture where I was expected to act, sound and dress as everyone else. I'm not alone in my reminiscence of the now defunct mag. Countless readers have professed their devotion to Sassy and Kara Jasella & Marisa Meltzer wrote How Sassy Changed My Life: A Love Letter to the Greatest Teen Magazine of All Time published last year.

Sassy, like other teen magazines, worked to create a culture, encouraging readers to listen to alternative and indie rock instead of the pre-fab pop YM and Seventeen encouraged. Because its writers held this kind of music, acting, books, etc. in high esteem, the readers at the very least gave it a try often becoming avid fans themselves. All of this is to say that selecting something as a favorite is not merely saying, "I like this." It categorizes you or as social theorist Pierre Bourdieu reminds us, it "classifies" us. This is something I'm working on for my dissertation, the idea that favorites lists on profiles are what Jenny Sunden and later, Hugo Lui call taste performances. To choose a favorite song or a favorite book aligns us with some people and separates us from others. Of course it does, you may be saying and well, I'm glad we agree.

It would be difficult for me to tell you my favorite book for many reasons. I read a variety of different genres and my favorite mystery or memoir might not be my favorite book overall. Also, as in most pieces of culture (pop culture included) books represent times in my life. I think of my favorite childhood book, my favorite books as a teen, as an undergraduate and Master's student, my favorite vacation books; there are so many categories. The same is true for music, movies, etc. Then there's the issue of feeling like I SHOULD list certain books as favorites because as an English professor there are expectations that I know certain texts.

Still, there are some books (music, movies, art, etc) I love, ones I'd call favorites, ones that changed my life. It doesn't diminish their influence in my life to know that some part of my affinity for them is constructed. Not at all.

The reason I'm thinking about all of this party has to do with my dissertation and partly to do withRebecca Wolfe's Flashback Friday post which asks "What are a few of your favorite things? What are you hanging on to? What would you grab if your dwelling was on fire?" I'm not sure these questions necessarily have the same answer because I'm certainly hanging on to things I would not save in a fire. When I consider how devastating a loss like a fire or flood or burglary would be, it's difficult to think about what I would want to save if given the chance. Certainly my computer because it houses files I don't have backed up anywhere. I would hate to lose the scrapbook I made for Michelle as well as the one that holds photographs of my time in Orlando.

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But the memories that the photographs represent would not disappear just because the scrapbooks were lost. So although I have many favorite things including my Harmony remote:

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I would want to make sure my computer, my Blackberry, my iPod (which are almost always with me, anyway), my girl and Midori were okay. Everything else I could most likely replace.