When I was a teenager we moved to a new town. It was a very small place compared to the big city I had lived in and I was not used to living in the country. I always had a hard time making friends and I wasn't happy about leaving the few friends I had behind. So we moved, I didn't have a license yet, I think I was about 15 and had just taken drivers ed. so I didn't have a vehicle and of course everyone seemed to have one already in high school. I didn't fit in with all of the country people nor did I fit in with the other ex-city people. I wasn't super smart so I didn't fit in with the nerds and I didn't even fit in with the rejects. For that first year I knew nobody. I had no friends and while I finally left most of the bullying behind I still had a few issues at this new school. What is it about being quite that just attracts so many jerks? But it was a smaller school so it had less bullies which was a good thing.
Every day I spent my lunch time in the library. I'd usually scarf down my food outside then go upstairs to the small library and get on one of the computers and play games like Oregon Trail (my pioneers always ended up with a stupid disease and died or the stupid oxen drowned lol.) I wasn't reading a lot at this time. I used to read in the years before and I was still collecting comic books but reading actual books. Nope. I have no idea why I stopped.
So one day I grew bored of the poor pioneers who were trying to cross the Oregon Trail and started looking around at the books in the library and I was about to give up. Nothing looked promising when all of a sudden three book covers that were standing together caught my eye. So I decided to go on over and look at them. I don't know why but the covers always remind me of tiles for some reason or like those tile graphics used in the video game Baldur's Gate. The books happened to be A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin. I read what they were about and they sounded pretty good so I checked them out.
I can remember being completely enchanted by the story and I loved the setting of the Archipelago. For some odd reason I had Ged or Sparrowhawk who would one day be the Archmage set in my mind as a white guy with blonde hair and blue eyes. I don't know why, maybe it's because up to this point all of the main characters especially wizards were always portrayed as white people. And in the Tombs of Atuan I thought the princess was a dark skinned Egyptian or close to one because her culture was very much like I imagined Egypt to be like. But then I noticed a sentence that was talking about Ged's scar which always stood out as very white against his dark skin. Say what? Come again? That's right, Ged was black and the Archipelago was a very colorful place. Ursula K. Le Guin enjoys writing colorful worlds and avoids stereotypes when she can. So now I was really impressed. When I was older I can remember reading so many messages and mail's from people thanking Ms. Le Guin for creating a hero that they could relate to and for finally creating a hero and wizard who wasn't just your stereotypical aged white wise man.
These books really rekindled my love of reading. I was just completely transported to another world, one which was unlike any I'd ever read about before and the likes of which I haven't seen since. For that year these and other books were my friends and I spent every free moment hanging out with them. I moved back to the city with some relatives the next year and went to an even worse school. It was a lot more upper class than I was used to and I had an even harder time fitting in but they had a wonderful library which included books that I'd never seen before in a school library (I don't think I've seen many of these in a school library since to tell the truth). I first read Anne Rice there and so many others. I was way behind in school. I'd spent most of my freshmen year just skipping class, going to these old train tracks and climbing up on an old abandoned train that had set there for years and I'd sit up there and just read until it was time to go home. I'd head to the local library each morning, grab a few books then off to my train I'd go. My English teacher at this new school took pity on me and knew I loved to read so she'd let me do book reports for extra credit which was very cool. She also lent me quite a few books from her personal library and I enjoyed each and every one of them. I wish I could remember her name. I'd love to thank her for encouraging me to read like that and for giving me something to look forward to and enjoy during that rough time.
I moved back home the following year and ended up making two really great friends. They were both country boys, hard working, and just great guys but I still read every chance I got. These books really made such a huge difference during that time and I haven't stopped reading since. They eventually moved that old train but it was there all the way through my Senior year when I finally dropped out and got a G.E.D. I'd finally had enough of school and was ready to move on. My two friends were a grade ahead of me and both had moved so I pretty much went back to skipping class and reading on my train. It's a shame they moved that old thing. I wish it was still there because every so often I get the urge to go climb up on it, lay down and stare at the sky and remember all of the great adventures we had together.
I now love it in the country :)
Note: The cover above is not the original beautiful covers that I am referring to.