I love adventure and action stories, but I wasn’t an avid reader. Truthfully, I hated reading. I am from the first TV generation. My mother did try to force the books, but her effort came in short spurts as her life had too much going on, and it was easier to leave us shrinking away in front of the boob-tube, where Batman and Robin went Bang, Pow and all those other funny effect used at that time.
It wasn’t until I was packed off to boarding school, at the age of eleven, that reading took on another role in my life. Still it wasn’t immediate. When reading for school I believe a teacher is what can make a huge difference, and turn a lazy reader into an interested reader. So my taste is for action, adventure, magic, and it can have some romance, but mostly I like the ones with that final and very fulfilling victory over the bad guy.
The first book I remember from boarding school was Hamlet. Not because of the book, but because of the very handsome and charming teacher. It was an all girls’ school, so not many options, aside from a math teacher with bad breath! I came out of that course thinking I enjoyed reading Shakespeare. Not until years later, when I had to read it on my own, without a handsome man spoon-feeding it to me, did I realize I didn’t really like READING Shakespeare. I loved his themes, his takes on humanity and society, his twists, and the intelligence of his writing but God, that English was too torturous.
During my second year in boarding school, I had a great English teacher who got me to love the Odyssey. Again, it wasn’t the reading in itself, but the story and the way she helped up me visualize it and live it. Then came a grand prize, she took us to watch Yul Brynner in the Odyssey in 1975 at the Colonial Theater in Boston. Wow, what a man! Sexiest bald man alive then, after that came others, like Sean Connery… anyway, back to the books.
These two experiences changed my indifference towards reading. I began to see in books the chance to run away, to be someone else; somewhere else, outside those walls where trouble seemed to follow me, even when I was innocent. I became less fearful of life and less angry at my situation.
While I was traveling through those stories in my mind no one and nothing could tie me down. My attitude towards injustice began to change. Instead of sticking to my problems, I began to take on others’ and was soon kicked out of school. I guess Ulysses’ courage rubbed off on me and affected my attitude towards the rulers of that small ugly world.
Other books did follow, and most seemed to have the theme of injustice. I lashed out without a second thought. And the headmaster lashed back after several episodes by calling my father and giving him the good news.
This wasn’t my first experience of getting kicked out, I had a tendency, but it was the one that marked me the most. For the first time in three years I really didn’t want to go home.
I arrived back at my old school, with no friends, no friendly faces and my tail between legs. My mother, who continued to be an avid reader, gave me the book that would stay with me until this day, and would help me get through that painful period—The Once and Future King by T.H. White.
This one I read on my own, and I couldn’t put it down. For the first few weeks, whenever I got a short break, I would run to the bathroom with that thick book and a cigarette. Yeah, it wasn’t a comfy place to read, but the only place we could smoke and read. So cheers to T.H. White, for his writing needed no guide, nor a handsome teacher, to woo me away on a wonderful magical voyage.
About the Author
Eleanor T Beaty was born in Brazil. She grew up in several places, Argentina, Switzerland, US, and Brazil. She has published in Brazil and Turkey. She has a BA in English literature and currently lives in Brazil with her husband. Check out Veiled Mist on Amazon.