One of my favorite books is The Once and Future King by T.H. White. I stole it out of my father's book stack on his nightstand one summer when I was a kid and read it twice. Back to back readings. I was a little demon reader so of course I had read books that moved me before but nothing really like this. The voice was a kindred spirit, one of those rare reading experiences where you close the book feeling less alone. I copied out my favorite sections by hand and kept those pages for years. I suspect I still have them. I just do not know where. There is hope I will find them. I found my first library card a few years ago. In a book. And that is probably where they are. My favorite quote is one so often cited now that I'm self-conscious about my lack of originality, but here it is:
“The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”
A few weeks back, this Sadie Stein post at the Paris Review blog reminded me of the White bio that I still did not own. I rapidly found a copy. In very decent shape but suitably aged. And I am saving it for one of my holiday reads. It is an object of happiness that I come back to frequently these days after one of my insane work days.