Monday, April 19, 2010

The book that most influenced me as a boy

At the age of fourteen, I sat down on a rainy afternoon, bored and “trapped” inside. My mother, an avid reader, kept many books on the shelves in our recreation room. The shelving wrapped around, or up one side, over and down the other side of an upright piano that once belonged to her grandmother.

No one in our family played piano, or admitted it if they’d attempted the task. I was not prepared to sit on the bench and pound the keyboard.

I’d started reading while in elementary school, but I knew that any teenage boy caught reading the children’s books that mostly lined those shelves, would, if found out, die from embarrassment. Besides, I really was no longer interested in most, and those that might’ve held my interest, well, I’d read them before.

However, boredom works wonders, or at least it does with me. I truly hate boredom. After sitting alone in that room for fifteen or so minutes, I “struggled” to my feet, and glanced along the book spines, hoping to find something good.

It seems strange now as I think back, that I hadn’t noticed it in the past, but as I was about to turn away, I spotted the title Green Mansions on a plain, yellowing hardcover spine.

With but a small amount of reluctance, thinking the story would prove to be yet another attempt at juvenile entertainment, I slid the book off the shelf and flipped it open to read the author’s name on the title page: W.H. Hudson.

Clearly the writer had something to hide, I thought and the intrigue drew me in.

When I read the first page, I felt satisfied that W. H. Hudson did not write children’s books. In fact, the 1944 edition I own now (of course I still have a copy) states: Green Mansions, A Romance of the Tropical Forest. A rather risque, for the time, drawing by E. McKnight Kauffer is to the left of the title page. Wonder if I saw that back then, hmm.

Well, I was fourteen and once I started reading, I could not put the book down. That was a first for me. Not only had I selected the book without suggestion from an adult, but it was terrific and I was hooked on science fiction and, no, not so much on romance.

1 comment:

Michele Emrath said...

I actually found your blog through your widget--it was listed next to mine! So I guess that worked. :)

The first book that captured me as a child was 'The Witch of Blackbird Pond' by Elizabeth George Spear. The idea of freedom, cruelty, and growing up--plus the historical fiction side--intrigued me.


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