I am most at home with 19th-century literature—Stendhal, Hawthorne, Chekhov, Keller and Fontane. These are books I read and reread to be happy. I never felt the urge to analyze why I am happy with them; and also with the Odyssey, a book that keeps surprising and amazing me.
Then there are books that I will never forget because I read them when I started reading in English. The reading was hard and I made them mine sentence by sentence, word by word. I thought I should start with something easy—mysteries—and happened to find Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice, Chandler's The Long Goodbye and Ambler's The Intercom Conspiracy—books about entanglement, love, guilt and the possibility or impossibility of redemption. Simple, precise and magical books.
Loving books means taking time for the unexpected, reading a book you have never heard about before or that you missed when everybody talked about it years ago, a book on a friend's bookshelf that somehow triggers your curiosity even though it doesn't fit into your taste or reading habits. Sitting on a train with a book I have picked up in a hurry at the small train station bookstore and finding out that the book is great, as it just happened to me with Toni Morrison's Beloved and also with Pat Barker's Resurrection—that is a perfect moment.