My first real "book-fatuation" (I know it's not exactly a sexy made-up word, but bear with me here), was for that childhood gem, Charlotte's Web.
I had flirted with Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton before this. Had a passing affair with Anne of Green Gables. But Charlotte's Web was the first book to really crawl under my skin. I was sad, mad, shocked and then a quivering mess at the injustice of it all.
Fast forward a few years, and The Stand became my new favourite book, introducing me to what would become one of my most treasured genres: post-apocalyptic fiction.
Other books came and went. There were the Steinbeck years, when I became obsessed with first The Grapes of Wrath, then East of Eden, that remained for the longest time, my best-loved book.
Followed rather swiftly on its heels by an all-consuming passion for everything Margaret Atwood at uni. It started with Cat's Eye, then I devoured everything else she wrote down to the bone - The Robber Bride, Alias Grace, The Handmaid's Tale, Lady Oracle, Life Before Man, The Blind Assassin, the entire Oryx & Crake trilogy and untold short stories and poetry.
My book-fatuation with Atwood has lasted to this day, so I suppose it can now be called True Love. I made brief forays into the fictional worlds of other writers. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Love in the Time of Cholera, The Road. But I always, always went back to Atwood.
Then, I discovered Cloud Atlas and David Mitchell. Cloud Atlas was a book I found maddening in parts, inscrutable in others, with a structure that pushed you to tear your hair out at times. But, as most people will know, crushes defy all logic and reason. I was swept away by the breadth of Mitchell's vision, seduced by his grand design, fell head-over-heels with the beauty of his language and the complexity of the novel's structure.
Cloud Atlas has, I think, graduated to the top of my pile, although it's still in serious competition with a bunch of Atwoods. It is my dream in life to meet Mitchell and/or Atwood and be able to rave to them about their books, like the stupefied fan-girl that I am, and shake and cry afterwards. Screw boy bands, famous authors are where it is at.
And now, just a few short weeks ago, a new book infatuation came into my life. I didn't seek it, nor was I waiting for it. But I picked up Mark Helphrin's Winter's Tale, thinking I'd read it before I saw the movie. I found myself unable to put it down, and read the entire thing in nearly one sitting. So there it is, at an age when you think a girl should be sensible about these things, I have a new book crush. Sigh. But really, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Have you ever experienced book infatuations?