Some time in middle school, a family friend dropped off a huge box of books and I proceeded to read nearly all of them in a summer. The only age appropriate ones I remember are By the Great Horn Spoon!, which is a sheer delight full of cleverness, boxing butlers, and the California gold rush, and The Once and Future King, which had some parts that were still outside my grasp. Though the Arthurian legend in general is emotionally fraught, containing incest, patricide, and the weird situation of loving one’s wife while also loving the guy she’s cheating on you with – I don’t blame myself.
This box also provided The Age of Innocence, which taught me about love and conforming, and that a gentleman can be thrilled when a lady’s eagle feather fan brushes his knee. It also taught me that after a lifetime of mooning about someone, said same gentleman could decline to see her because, “She’s more real to me this way.” WTF, dude?