Over at the wonderful web home of Emlyn Chand, a writing challenge is going on for the year that involves re-reading some of the books you loved as a child or a teen. You know, those books you read over and over that sparked your interest for more: longer books, series, choose your own adventures, those “adult” books you sneaked out of the library,etc.
It got me thinking about some of my favorite books that I read as a child. Books that turned me into an addict. A book addict. Three books in particular come to mind.
First being The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois. It’s a story of a man who takes off in a hot air balloon which gets a hole and ends up landing on a an island. The island is inhabited by a few families who are mining for diamonds. Sounds like he hits it rich, but the island is actually the volcanic island of Krakatoa, which is about to blow up. They have to scramble and figure out a way off before they are all killed.
I loved the mix of fact and fiction in the book. When I found out Krakatoa was a real place, it spurred me to read even more to find out more about what happened there.
Another all time favorite of mine is Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien. God I loved this book. I must have taken it out of the library a million times. I did book reports on it and always recommended it to my friends to read. For those who don’t know, or have only seen the movie rather than read the book, it’s a story of a mother mouse who needs to move her family for the season, but her son is far to sick to move. She gets advice from the owl (A mouse, going to an owl for help?! It was scary as a kid! I thought she’d get eaten!) to seek the rats under the rose bush for help. When she does, she finds the rats are advanced, being able to read and write and make complex machines and outfit themselves with electricity. They agree to help her because her husband, who has since passed away, helped them escape the NIMH laboratories years before.
I remember the book as being exciting and suspenseful. I don’t think I’d ever like another story that involved rats and mice, but these ones are smart, lovable and kind. Except, ya know…for that one bad guy.
Lastly, there’s Louisa May Alcott‘s Little Women. I forget exactly how old I was, but my mother gifted me with a beautiful hard cover copy of the book, with an inscription in the front cover. I was totally taken in by the story of the sisters (Oh Jo…why didn’t you get with Laurie?!). I won’t go into detail about the story, since between the popularity of the book and the movie(s) most people will know the it already. I was so into the story that I ended up reading Little Men and either Jo’s Boys or Eight Cousins (it’s been so long I’ve forgotten which).
As an adult, it kind of surprises me that I enjoyed these books so much because period pieces don’t catch my attention as much anymore. I’m not sure what it was about it that pulled me in, but I was caught hook, line and sinker. I think reading these led me to read Gone With the Wind in the 6th grade.
Now to get back to my “problem”, you might think, as far as addictions go, being a reader isn’t a bad one, and I suppose it’s not awful, but it does have its down sides. Firstly, books can be pricey! Especially if you love the heavy slick looking hard covered beauties. *Sigh* Sooo pretty. Besides the money spent on the books themselves, you *must* have a place to display your lovely treasures! I dream of having a room with at least three walls of built in bookshelves. *Swoooooon* Along with all those books comes the issue of moving them. My poor poor friends. They hate when I come to them and ask if they can help me move. They know that means boxes and boxes of heavy books, but I can’t just leave my babies behind! Then there’s the issue of stories just not being long enough. Twelve books in the series? You always want one or two more. Over a thousand pages? If only there were five hundred more! Damn addicting good stories you don’t want to end! It’s especially bad when the series is just starting and you have to wait for the next book. Hurry and write people! I need my fix! The addiction often leaves my head in the clouds, dreaming about possible plot lines and friendships with the characters. It’s led me to a somewhat sedentary life as well.
You know though, it’s all worth it. The longing for more. The shakes (from holding those thick heavy hard covers). The hours on end frantically flipping through pages to see what happens. Paper cuts. Eye strain. Numb ass. I wouldn’t trade any of it for a life of television only. I don’t need twelve step programs, I just need more books.