In a week marked for extreme temperatures and an utter lack of motivation toward all manners of effort, I found myself unable to dedicate any amount of time toward the production of quality content for this website. I’d feel bad about this had I not spent the past five days a miserable lump, unable to do much more than complain and weep. It was unfortunate for the fourteen people that read the screeds, but it truly could not be avoided.
I do not wish to create the impression that I was entirely unproductive!
I have sorted out the vast collection of e-books that I keep on hand, and I did have a few observations on what I have found. More toward the nature of what I have found, not the infuriated reactions I occasionally have toward half-assed efforts that people place into the creation of e-books. That would be a rant that lasted for hours and led to places that neither of us need approach on a (case of the) Monday(s).
As I looked upon the shelves in both Calibre and iBooks, I couldn’t help but notice that I have more books from my childhood than I had realized. It is not odd to see J.K. Rowling or Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians, but I have also noticed that Roald Dahl is more than well-represented. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a requisite (the sequels sucked like the hookers on Alexis Road), yet the statistics show that I’ve spent far more time with Fantastic Mr. Fox and James and the Giant Peach. Lynne Reid Banks has quite a few entries as well; her Indian in the Cupboard series were favorites of mine for quite some time in middle school. I had even considered the inclusion of the more famous works of Judy Blume, but I realized that my parents had been married when I was conceived and born, and therefore that author was precluded. There are many more, but I only wish to mention one more author, and that is Louis Sachar. I have the impression that the book Holes is more popular than his others, which is unfortunate. Granted, that may be due to the fact that there was a film adaptation, but it will never stand up to his Sideways Stories from Wayside School series. These three books may have been the only reason I didn’t throw chairs in school as a child when asked to perform simple intellectual tasks that should have been mastered before one had started school. Yeah, sure; I’m more than happy to practice the alphabet. I’ll simply do so while I read from these wonderful books I found in the bin under the projector. Coloring alphabet people was for assholes anyway.
Nevertheless, I did love those alphabet bastards. I was somewhat surprised to see that all twenty-six were not displayed on the refrigerator at once. I was an awesome artist even at five. I took my mother’s word that as each one went up and the previous one came down, they were safe in the attic. They weren’t. They were in the trash, which is where the Castle Greyskull play-set and My Pet Monster pillow would eventually follow in time.
I haven’t forgotten these lies, Mom. You’re the second name on the list after Uncle Jim when it comes to retribution!
Anyway, I’ve returned. I do hope that you enjoyed that short side-trip. After I had realized that I spent a considerable amount of my free time with the books that I’ve read upward of forty times in the past twenty years, I couldn’t help but wonder. Do I read them because I like them or because they served as the foundation for every book that I’ve read and enjoyed since. Admittedly, I did not put too much skull-sweat into the question, as I rather doubt the answer will be cathartic or even informative. Still, I have filed it under “Things that make you go hmm.”
Everyone is bound to have favorites from their childhoods. Whether these books were picked up in school or were read to them by others, they are the reasons that children come to enjoy their time with books. At the same time, it is hard to picture an adult that is riveted by Chris van Allsburg’s The Polar Express. It is a wonderful book, and it made for an even more wonderful film, but it is not the sort of book that people carry on their Nooks. Short of fond memories, I can’t picture an adult with a copy at all, minus future use by future children. That is, until I consider “Hey, I have a copy of Jerry Spinelli’s Who Ran My Underwear up the Flagpole? Perhaps it is not all that hard to fathom after all.” Shit happens.
While I would agree that I keep these books due to the fondness of my memories of them, I also actively read nearly all of them. As much as I enjoyed the view of the ninth grade English teacher’s ass when I was fourteen, it doesn’t make Great Expectations an experience I want to repeat. If I were to find the books to be a bit of a bore, I cannot see that I would continue to read them. I would hate to consider that it simply is reliving youth.
Opinions, I need them. I am genuinely curious as to whether books written to appeal to children still draw us in due to nostalgia or an evolving appreciation and understanding of the stories themselves. I cannot dismiss either, nor am I comfortable attributing it to an alloy of the two of them. This is where I make a direct request to the twelve people which read these screeds to participate, which is a first, really.
So participate, fuckers.