Welcome to the Littlest Library, where guests get to choose the ONE book they’d like to save and add to the collection. This can be a physical copy of a book you own or a book that means something to you personally.
Last time we talked about my own ONE book, my dad’s battered paperback copy of Harry Harrison’s The Stainless Steel Rat and why it means so much to me.
Today we’ve got Liz de Jager, author of one of my favourite trilogies (start with Banished!).
- You can choose ONE book
- see rule #1
It can be any book you like, but in the words of the Highlander, there can be only ONE.
Without further ado, over to Liz to talk about her ONE book.
My name is Liz de Jager, and I’ve written a YA trilogy a few years back. The other stories I’ve written have yet to find a home, but in the meantime, I’m working as a bookseller at my local high street independent bookshop here in Beckenham. And yes, I’m writing something new. Which I’m excited about.
Right, onto the book I’d grab from my library if I had to choose.
I’ve chosen THE WALKING DRUM by Louis L’Amour.
Now, if you know about Louis L’Amour, you’d know he wrote hundreds of Westerns back in the day. If you don’t know him, well, he’s written loads of Westerns about cowboys, wrangling and range wars.
The Walking Drum is not a Western. It is a historical novel set during the 12th Century in Europe, Russia and Constantinople following our hero, Kerbouchard as he goes from slave, to warrior to scholar and also, well, lover.
This book, shook my world in the 80’s. I grew up in South Africa, the youngest of six kids. My parents were older than most parents, and so I really didn’t have much in common with anyone, apart from my siblings’ kids. My dad however, was an avid reader. But he mostly read Westerns and pulp fiction. Not anything ‘worthy’ and so, that’s what I read. In South Africa in the 80’s your world was really limited to what you saw on TV (westerns and American shows like Knight Rider and Airwolf and also dubbed German TV shows) and so it was all very skewered towards white, Westernised ideas of the world. The 80’s were wild. There were sanctions so we were effectively cut off from the rest of the world and the government controlled the news. It was a very claustrophobic time, growing up, I realise that now, but at the time, you don’t know what freedoms you lack because you don’t know any better.
In steps Louis L’Amour with The Walking Drum and the blew my tiny mind. He introduced me to a Spain under the rule of Moors. He introduced me to astronomy and astrology, to the other stuff we weren’t every taught in (State run ultra conservative and highly religious) schools. For instance, I became obsessed with the Steppes and with the Mongols and with Russia. I became enamoured of Constantinople and Turkey and the precepts of Christianity vs that of the Muslim world. I needed to know more. The Walking Drum rocked my known world and I was desperate to find out everything about well, everything, really.
Sure, it was still Westernised (the book) but heavens, it opened up my mind to how the Arabian world formed such an integral part in our learning: mathematics, astrology, language, storytelling to name but a few. It taught me that the Mongols were terrifying but that their court held untold wonders and how they had religious freedoms. It also introduced me to the Old Man of the Mountain in far off Afghanistan by sending Kerbouchard into the Valley of the Assassins.
I genuinely couldn’t get enough of the world suddenly laid open at my feet. I credit The Walking Drum as the book that started my fascination with not only travelling, history, but also reading, discovering new cultures and new religions and new thoughts that challenge the staid institutionalised thinking perpetuation by frightened governments that strive to keep us dumb and docile. It also made me want to become a writer.
So yes, if there is one book I’d rescue from my shelf, it’s the 1985 paperback, well thumbed and much loved, copy of THE WALKING DRUM.
Fabulous! Our Littlest Library has its first guest book! Huge thanks to Liz for joining in, and I will be pestering her for this ‘something new’ that she’s writing.
Do you want to take part in the Littlest Library ONE book? I’ve got a few more guests lined up, but the more the merrier!
Drop me an email: email@example.com with a photo of your book, and some words to explain why it’s your ONE book.