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Friday, January 27, 2012

Thirty Days of Truth - Day Seventeen

Another chapter in the oddity that is me begins here.  Day Seventeen and a book that changed your life.

I'm going to take you back a way....a long way actually, to when I was a mere sweet sixteen and in private school that I loathed.  We had a reward system there.  Read a book every week, write a report on it, and stand up in front of the ENTIRE school and do a book report and you got privileges that allowed you to pretty much do whatever you wanted as long as you stayed on school property.  Combine, well, me with that privilege and you know where I learned to speak in front of large groups of people.  I did it every single week for two years.

Being a very small school, we had a limited library, so needless to say toward the end of those two years, I started running out of reading material.

All that time, there on the shelf sat this ONE book.  All alone, perhaps due to it's girth.  You KNOW I don't remember how many pages that freaking book had now, but I'm ballparking around 863.  If memory serves.  It's been sitting there for almost two years taunting me.  I've picked it up and read a little, but in the first place it was published in 1809 and I'm sixteen.  Ugh.  It's by a woman named Jane Porter whom of course I've never heard of.  And it's l.o.n.g.  No way I can finish this book in a week and give a report on it.

Finally, it happens.  It's the last book on the shelf, so it's me sitting the rest of the year in a little cubicle with partitions on both sides of me so I can't see anything except directly in front, or read the freaking book and being free.

Now you're curious aren't you? Mhm.

The book is titled The Scottish Chiefs.  It's the historical account of the live of Sir William Wallace.  I've seen it touted as historical and as historical romance.  Not buying the romance, it's factual and that's a part of it, but it's beyond that by spades.

I vividly remember the night I started reading it.  My bedroom was a color I'll not admit in public, and my bed was that white with the gold trim.  I had the matching chest and dresser and even the desk with matching chair.  My bedspread was that white bumpy stuff that all the little old ladies used to have but it was warm and snuggly and I loved it.  There was a window directly across from the foot of my bed that looked out onto the main street and a huge maple tree my grandmother had planted in the yard that eventually had to be cut down because of the power lines.  There was a window to the left of my bed that looked out across our street to the Farris' house.  A lovely old couple who worked in the yard all day every day and never failed to have something nice to say.  I used to help them weed those little purple flowers also favored by the old folks that seemed to want to take over the world if you'd let them.  Alas, I digress.

I curled up in bed and took the paper jacket off because I always mess those up.  Then I started reading.  I admit the first few pages or even chapters were hard, but it didn't take long.

Jane Porter wrote this in a preface.....

"In seeking to go back, by the traces of recollection, to the period when the first impression of the heroes which form the story of the Scottish Chiefs was made on my mind, I am carried so completely into the scenes of my infancy, that I feel like one of the children old tales tell of, who, being lost in a wood, tries to find her way home again, by the possibly preserved track of a few corn seeds she had chanced to scatter on the ground as she came."

I won't go into detail as honestly, I don't remember all that much, other than that I was mesmerized.  I didn't want to put it down.  Even with the sometimes difficult to understand terminology, the use of old, old, old Kings English, etc., it was spellbinding.  I gave my book report the very next Friday and was granted my freedom once again.  I finished the book in four days.  Probably skipped some homework assignments, but I finished the book.

That book is the book that introduced me to reading.  Really reading.  Not to pass a test or for required reading, not just to be granted another week of freedom, but to sink into the pages and get lost.  To really enjoy the story, the characters, the work that goes into writing a novel.  

It's not even close, not by a long shot, but if you really need the reference, think "Braveheart".  Maybe it would have been more pleasant to read if I'd had that image of Mel Gibson as William Wallace while I was reading, or you know what, I don't think it would have.  Even after all these years, I can say with all honesty it's my favorite book ever.  Even if I don't remember that much of it.  I own it now.  My husband bought me a copy years ago and I think it might be time to go back and pick it up again.

Until next time......


Bryan M. White said...

Jack Kerouac's On The Road would have to go on a short list of "books that changed my life" for me. I read it around the same age. It was an incredible realization that someone could write about life like that...or even that life could BE like that.

Donna said...

I'll have to check that one out, I'm always up for new discoveries!

Katie said...

I have goosebumps Donna reading this. I feel like I was in your room with your while you reminicsed back to when you first began the story. How lovely :)


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