The literary blog hop is sponsored by the good folks at The Blue Bookcase, and this week's question (from Mel U) is: If you were going off to war (or some other similarly horrific situation) and could only take one book with you, which literary book would you take and why?
My first instinct for this question is to go with The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, which ties with Pride and Prejudice as the book I've read most often. It's got several things going for it, not least of which is length, and when you can only bring one book, it might as well be a big 'un. It offers history, philosophy, fellowship, songs, and laughter. Meditations on war and meditations on peace, and how war isn't really over even when the final battle is. It also doesn't neglect to mention how hard war is on the people left behind by those at front. Moreover, the characters have become my friends through the years, and in the darkness of war, who wouldn't want to be surrounded by comrades?
Some might object to this answer on grounds of its lack of literary merit, this being the literary blog hop after all. And if we're talking strictly the beauty of the prose, I might be inclined to agree. But I'm not sure there's a more monumental work of literature from the 20th century (certainly not in the English language, and I think it could go toe-to-toe with any work from any other language), considering its scope, its staying power, and the sheer amount of scholarship that went into creating multiple languages and mythologies and histories for Middle Earth. Frankly, I find it all a bit staggering. Plus it's thick enough to probably stop a bullet and thus save my life. So there.