I recently came across a short piece (InStyle September 2014) that queried celebrities about their favorite childhood books. I remember four, in particular, that I loved.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
The Little Princess
My Side of the Mountain
In “Bedknobs and Broomsticks”, kids used their magic bedknob to fly their bed through the night to distant lands. I also wanted to fly, magically and safely, of course, to distant lands. I was bitterly conscious of my lack of bed knobs. Why oh why was I stuck with a dumb bunk bed with no removable bedknobs instead of an antique brass bed? For awhile I concentrated nightly on an old glass door knob I found. I thought if I believed enough, it might take me places. A knob is a knob, after all.
The “Little Princess” was the perfect prepubescent comeback novel. She’s on top, then she’s living.in an attic room, slaving away, and then, because of her noble character, she’s back on top again. Later on in life, I liked Flowers in the Attic, so maybe I just have a thing about being shut away in an attic.
“Robinson Crusoe” played into all of my adolescent fantasies; being shipwrecked on an island, eventually making friends with an Indian, and living off the land and off the grid. I still fantasize about living on an island but less in the style of Robinson Crusoe and more in the style of Richard Branson.
In “My Side of the Mountain”, a young man lives in a tree trunk all by himself in the wilderness. I can’t remember why he was living there. He had to be brave and learn how to keep himself fed through the long, lonely winter. I admired him and was a little envious of his solitude. I must have been sharing a room with my little sister when I read that book.
Putting on my amateur psychologist hat, I would say that, at least as a kid, I had a thirst for adventure and solitude. These days, I prefer being caught up on my laundry and a nice nature walk to anything adventurous, but I do still crave solitude every now and then. When that happens, I go sit in the attic.
I’m just kidding. I don’t do that. There are spiders up there.
What books did you love?