Hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books, this is a weekly meme in which bloggers tell about their favorite reads from the past.
Title: The Exorcist
Author: William Peter Blatty
An elderly Jesuit priest named Father Lankester Merrin is leading an archaeological dig in northern Iraq and studying ancient relics. Following the discovery of a small statue of the demon Pazuzu (an actual ancient Sumerian demigod) and a modern-day St. Joseph medal curiously juxtaposed together at the site, a series of omens alerts him to a pending confrontation with a powerful evil, which unknown to the reader at this point, he has battled before in an exorcism in Africa. Meanwhile, in Georgetown, a young girl named Regan MacNeil living with her famous actress mother, Chris, becomes inexplicably ill. After a gradual series of poltergeist-like disturbances, she undergoes disturbing psychological and physical changes, appearing to become "possessed" by a demonic spirit.
After several unsuccessful psychiatric and medical treatments, Regan's mother turns to a local Jesuit priest. Father Damien Karras, who is currently going through a crisis of faith coupled with the loss of his mother, agrees to see Regan as a psychiatrist, but initially resists the notion that it is an actual demonic possession. After a few meetings with the child, now completely inhabited by a diabolical personality, he turns to the local bishop for permission to perform an exorcism on the child.
After consultation with the Jesuit president of Georgetown, the bishop appoints the experienced Merrin, recently returned to the States, to perform the exorcism and allows the doubt-ridden Karras to assist him. The lengthy exorcism tests the priests, both physically and spiritually. After the death of Merrin, the task ultimately restores Karras' faith, leading him to give his own life to save Regan's.
Why I Chose This Book:
I picked up this book from a garage sale sometime when I was in 7th or 8th grade. At that point in my life, I was really, REALLY into the paranormal (I still am -- Heck, my license plate is an homage to The X-Files). I had never seen the film, but I wanted to read the book.
Over the course of the next several years, I think I read this book at least once a year for a total nearing 16 times. I'm not quite sure why, except I was working on a lot of theater at the time, so this was something I could pick up between scenes and just read.
I finally saw the movie when I was in high school, probably around the time that they theatrically released the director's cut for the 25th anniversary. I was so disappointed. It wasn't scary at all in my opinion. The book was much, much better.
Part of the reason why this is one of my all-time favorite books is because Blatty does a fantastic job with the description and suspense. Sure, there are some really disturbing scenes in here (I'm not even going to go into the reason why I couldn't look at a crucifix for several days after I read this book the first time), but knowing that the book was based on actual events makes them even more creepy.
I was going to post another of my favorite reads today, but The Exorcist popped into my head on my way to work because of this lovely little photo I saw on Awkward Family Photos yesterday. I have this exact same copy of the book, only mine no longer has a cover.