Q: [What book or books inspired you as a child?
A: Many, so many. In third grade, I had a reading award named after me by my elementary school teacher, Mrs. Charlene Joachim (RIP). I think I read something like 128 books that year. The next year, another kid smashed it with like 200 (?), but it was awesome to inspire others to read. Books that I haven’t looked up and don’t know if they stand the test of time, but still have warm memories of include:
The second book in the Boxcar Children series, Surprise Island. The kids were just out there, on their own, having a good time. The image/feeling I still remember from this book was independence and a sense of wonder, particularly with loft-style dwellings (oddly specific, I know).
Lots of people were probably inspired by The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but The Voyage of the Dawn Treader sticks out to me the most. My memory is of them sailing through the ocean, seeing mysterious civilizations under the waters and the awe that came with reading that. Maybe the water was even made out of sugar? It was incredible. I know there’s a lot of religious symbolism in those books, but I remember it for the wonderment at the worldbuilding.
The City of Gold and Lead by John Christopher: I actually read this second book in the Tripods trilogy first. It was a wild ride to drop in to, but I just remember the fascination of an adolescent being in a foreign place, discovering things. So cool.
Are you still a child in sixth grade? If so, I’ll add Sphere by Michael Crichton, recommended by my teacher that year. Writing class with Ms. Imrie was when I first discovered people could actually write things. Sphere was a trip as a sixth-grader and the general aura of omniscient creepiness that I attribute to that book is why I think I like movies like those in the Alien franchise. I’m talking about the scenes before the peak action when everyone is starting to realize that they’re in big trouble. Think the wheat scene in Alien Covenant when it’s otherwise silent except the wind and they realize there are no animals at all.
For some reason, these four stand out the most. If you ask me next week, I might say Encyclopedia Brown, Tales of the Bounty Hunters, and Jurassic Park.
Jason P. Burnham’s story “Revitalized”
in Metaphorosis Friday, 3 April 2020.
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