One of my absolute favorite things to do when trying to learn more about someone is asking them what their favorite book is, and then reading it. For those literary minded folk, this is almost a better way of gaining insight into their personality, sense of humor, interests, and how they think, than just chatting with them. Plus, it cuts down on the amount of annoying questions you could ask them instead.
As a book lover, I would be beyond flattered if someone purposely picked up my favorite book in order to understand why it is my favorite, and therefore understand more about me. That person is taking time out of their lives to get to know me vicariously through the storyline and characters that have enchanted me. It is just another route for the person to take to see what makes my mind and heart tick. There is no greater compliment than someone willingly making this kind of effort.
I believe that this can be an intensely personal experience for both the book lover and the reader. The book lover has obviously picked the specific story for a reason, whether it touched them in a very certain way, or made them laugh or cry harder than anything had before. You would never tell someone “(insert book title) is my favorite book because of the depth and complexity of the characters and the realness in their flaws and triumphs.” That might not be the best way to start a conversation, especially if they have no clue what you are talking about, and then all of your enthusiasm and great thoughts are lost in their blank stare.
Your thoughts on the book might be valid, but it won’t mean a thing to whomever you are telling them to, unless they have read the book before. Now, as the book lover, you could ask a person to read your favorite book, and then you could discuss it and have a deep and meaningful conversation. But, as the reader, you can really show initiative in picking up that book on your own would tell that person that you are intentionally trying to understand them more than you ever could just through casual conversation. It becomes this beautiful, shared experience, and the book lover will know that you, as the reader, did it just for them and of your own free will and desire to learn more about them.
This past Christmas, I asked my immediate family members to give me their favorite books as gifts. I was beyond excited to see who would give me what! My sister, for example, gave me a Russian spy novel, and from this book, I could understand why she now loves Russian history so much. My dad gave me a true account of a soldier who fought in the Pacific theater in World War II, and from this, I learned more about why he has such a deep appreciation and respect for the military. My mom gave me the first sci-fi novel that she ever read, which then sparked her huge interest in science, space, and technology. My family members did not ever have to tell me these things, because I learned them from reading their favorite books. I learned them on my own, and it meant even more to me to be able to glean this knowledge though book form. They connected with each of their books, and I wanted to be able to connect to them by diving into each text to see why it resonated with them so much as to be given the title of ‘favorite’.
I may be the only person who does this (though I hope not!), but I truly believe that the way to a book nerd’s heart is to read their favorite book and then listen and share your experience with them. Try it on your favorite person and see what it can do for your relationship!