Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.

I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Epic Book Shelf: Swallows and Amazons

I have found that when raising a child, as in the rest of life, you have to test the waters at times. For example, when your offspring seem to have become impossibly mature. Just to see if there is a hint of the little boy buried somewhere inside the confident, exuberant, thirty year old. In the case of my son, the Future Rock Star, a thirty year old trapped inside the body of a twelve year old.

When I was young, my mother went to great expense to have a set of twelve children's books by Arthur Ransome sent from England to the wilds of northern America where we lived. She read them to my brother and me. And I never forgot it. That set of books now resides on a shelf in my den. It is one of my most prized possessions.

Ransome wrote this series of stories about three families of children spending various school holidays in England's Lake District. In that shimmering time between the wars. When the dark clouds on the horizons were not visible, at least to children. These stories are of sailing, of camping, of treasure hunting and exploration. Of adventure on lakes, rivers and on the oceans. Of friendly competition. Of loving family relationships. With only one or two exceptions, adults play few major roles in these stories, and the reader gets the chance to be friends with the Walker and Blackett children. Take part in their adventures. Grow up with them. These books were my first exposure to really good fiction. They inspired me to keep my first journal, a "ship's log". Emboldened me to badger my father for a very tiny sail boat. Brought about many back-yard camp outs. These books taught me to dream of sailing ships and foreign lands.

About two years ago, I casually suggested to my son that we read the first book in the series, Swallows and Amazons, at bedtime. He was as immediately enchanted as I had been decades before. Now, we are reading through the final volume in the series and we have had a marvelous journey. I have been able to introduce the FRS to all these adventures. And I have been able to relive them too. He and I have been completely engrossed and entertained. With nary a vampire, magician, laser weapon, alien, or other such contrivance in sight.

Consequently, I am very pleased to report that the result of my literary/historical experiment on my son is that there is still a little boy inside him. And I found that the little boy is still there inside me as well.


CashmereLibrarian said...

I love everything about this. English adventure stories, a collection from one's childhood, sharing your favorites with the next generation. Well done!

~Tessa~Scoffs said...

Wonderful post, Mr. Lane. Thank you for the recommendation. I used to read to Les Petits at bedtime but now they are usually still finishing up homework. Perhaps I will find these books for a summer reading project. I am very grateful the vampire craze has passed us by (or maybe just hasn't arrived yet). For the Trickster, it's still Captain Underpants and Wimpy Kid. Les Petits are, however, amassing quite a collection of Tintin Adventure Books. Santa insists.

Belle de Ville said...

These books sound like a wonderful alternative to vampires and wizards.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Love this and love the idea of reading to my children - when I have them that is! Thanks for the book review...

M.Lane said...

Thanks everyone! These books have been a very special part of my life and I am glad to share them.


ELS said...

I spent most of my childhood lost in Arthur Ransome, and am so happy to hear he has stood the test of time and distance.

Wonderful blog

M.Lane said...

ELS, they are just wonderful books that one returns to again and again for a dose of childhood adventure and tranquility.

Thanks for the compliment and the visit! I read your blog and really enjoy it also.