Comes a little lady, a book in hand,
A light in her eyes that I understand,
And her cheeks aglow from the faery breeze
That sweeps across the uncharted seas.
She gives me the book, and her word of praise
A ton of critical thought outweighs.
"I've finished it, daddie!" – a sigh thereat.
"Are there any more books in the world like that?"
No, little lady. I grieve to say
That of all the books in the world today
There's not another that's quite the same
As this magic book with the magic name.
Volumes there be that are pure delight,
Ancient and yellowed or new and bright;
But – little and thin, or big and fat –
There are no more books in the world like that.
And what, little lady, would I not give
For the wonderful world in which you live!
What have I garnered one-half as true
As the tales Titania whispers you.
Ah, late we learn that the only truth
Was that which we found in the Book of Youth.
Profitless others, and stale, and flat; –
There are no other books in the world like that.
~ Bert Leston Taylor, in Lifelines, Niall MacMonagle, editor
My partner has just started reading a version of Treasure Island to D during evening storytime. His eyes have never seemed quite so wide. I have loved libraries for as long as I remember, and can still re-live the thrill I felt when I got my very first library card. Some of the books I loved as a child were books that everyone loved, and some of them were books that I felt sure no one else had every truly read. And then, when I went back to them, they were sometimes just not the way I remembered. (E.g. Search for the Crescent Moon, by Eth Clifford. Bet you've never heard of it.) The version I lovingly held in my head was MUCH better than the one written down by Ms. Clifford. Sometimes I went back looking for a book but couldn't find it (my hometown library reorganized their entire children's section once I grew up, with some disastrous effects to my shelf-location-based memories of books I'd loved). In my early thirties, while traveling in Canada on business, I suddenly re-discovered the Enid Blighton Adventure series, and bought the entire set on the spot, heart pounding with joy. The owner of the shop smiled at my sheepishness and said, "This happens about once a week."
I'd love to hear a story about the stories that shaped you...
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