Images from books
It’s funny the images you have in your head from books. When I was in Intermediate School, I read a ton of books. I can still remember the first book I read at the library. It was about a kid who had just moved schools-I had too, so I could relate. It was a depressing book, and I was feeling odd at the time-one of those transition periods when you feel like your on a trip or something. The kid watched TV a lot in the book, and the cover was in that 70s orange, sort of like Southwest Airlines or the carpet at this roller rink the next town over. He was bit by a snake, and had to watch TV all the time, and there was this girl that he had some sort of relationship with. I liked the book though, because I could relate.
The next book I remember reading was about a kid who lived in the Andes with some Alpacas or Llamas. There were lots of rope bridges and tall cliffs, and the towns were a bit vacant as well. This book too was a bit vague and existential in some aspects, at least for a fourth grader. It was in the 70s orange too.
And then there were the medieval books. One of them had a Welsh poem in the front. I asked the librarian if I should read it, and she informed me that those weren’t hard words, they were of another language. The best part I can remember about that book was a sort of locker room for the knights. I can also vaguely see some castles being met by royal entourages and looking across an English field from a ridge protruding in an agricultural way from the earth.
One of these was something about Black Arrow, a very high reading level (and I’m so glad I wrote this, because I couldn’t remember the name until now). Robert Louis Stevenson now that I looked it up. The book was dark on the front, and it was a serious book, but not in that existential 70s sort of way, just serious, and straightforward. That was the fifth grade. It started out in the forest, and then as he traveled through the forest and visited the taverns (it reminded me of colonial times) he learned more about the war. It was a very dark forest, I remember that. Like fall.
Another book I read was a classic whose name escapes me at the moment. The book had something to do with a captain being thrown off of his ship in the Pacific islands, a story very similar to the real life Mutiny on the Bounty. Regardless, the man went native, putting notches in a stick to pass the time-something that seemed to catch my imagination. I read that book quite fast, and was very proud of myself for doing so.
Keeping with the island theme, I also read Kon-Tiki, which was very influential on me. The fact that it was true made me even happier. I would suggest the documentary, the footage is just so unique.
There was another book that I can’t remember, and this bothers me quite badly, because it seemed like such an interesting book. It was a boy, and the circumstances are not quite clear except that it was somewhere in the British Isles in the 17 or 1800s. I could be dead wrong about that, but as I imagined it everyone was walking around like the guards in London with the big furry hats and chin straps. There might have been an abbey in this one, but I can’t quite remember right. The time placement made this book difficult for me, images sputtering in my head like a bad radio connection. I think it was the Napoleonic wars, that would make sense. He must return home at some point, I believe the boy lived in Scotland. He hid from the conflict mostly, not much of a fighter. For some reason the soldiers didn’t want others to know he was there.
I always wanted to read these books that came in this Christian catalog, they weren’t Christian books, just adventure books, but classics. Sheesh I can’t remember the guy’s name now. But they were good books, I could just tell.
So when I look back on all these books I can see pieces of me today. For example, living on an island and sailing are still things that I think about. I take it as a given that I’ll probably have to fight for something in my lifetime. But in a way those books prepared me for that. In a strange way, it’s as if reading them substituted for the lack of experience that I, a 21st century nerd from a small town, was severely lacking.