Late last night I sort of felt like watching a movie, but also felt rather tired. I was yawning, but didn’t want to go to bed yet, and a movie would have been a cozy thing to do. Then again, I was uncertain that I’d want to stay awake for an hour and a half, or whatever a movie would take. I have several books scattered around the house that I’m in the middle of reading, but none of them felt attractive to me right then. Maybe I should have just given in to the sleepiness and gone to bed, but I frequently resist bedtime, like I’m a stubborn girl again, or something. Anyway, I decided against watching a movie and started scanning the bookshelves for something new to read a few chapters of. What I finally selected was Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
Now, this is a book that I’ve read before. I went through a R.L. Stevenson phase at some point in high school, although I’ve actually never read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. There’s something nice about re-reading a book that’s very different from reading a book for the first time. If the book is worthy of a second reading (or a third, fourth, fifth, etc.), then it’s like an act of returning. Going back to a place, a city or a landscape, that once welcomed you or changed you. And your friends are still living there, even though you’ve been away for a long time. Re-reading is a much more relaxed sort of reading than the first encounter with a book, which is why it was the right thing for me to do last night. You already know what’s going to happen, so there’s no anxiety. Instead, you just enjoy the scenery, and collect details and emotions that you didn’t see the first time. It has been a really long time since I read Treasure Island, so most of the little parts of the story feel new to me. I really just remember the broad arc of what happens. I was going to say something cheesy about finding new parts of a book when you read it at a different time in your life than the first time, how your relationship with the book changes because you’ve changed, etc. but I feel like I’ve been cheesy enough already, so you can think that one out for yourself.
It’s also interesting to me how this book in particular has been one that people return to. There have been a lot of movies made based on this story, too. I’m partial to the Muppet version, personally. It’s an exciting story, lots of action and whatnot, so I guess that helps it to translate well to movie adaptations. Also, people love pirates. I think that Long John Silver is one of the archetypes of exactly why people are so attached to or attracted to pirates. He’s confusing. Should you like him or dislike him? Is he good or evil? The bad guy is so much more interesting than the good guy. We all want to be the bad guy, right? We want to get away with things. Or maybe some people want to date the rebel. Like Captain Jack Sparrow. Yes, Johnny Depp is sexy, but I think it would be much more interesting to be Captain Sparrow than anything else.