When the book challenge I’m following this year told me to read a book that someone tells has “changed their life”, I found it quite impossible.
I don’t have conversations with people where they talk about the books that have changed their lives. Ecuadorians in general don’t read many books. And when I lived in Finland I was still in High School and people’s lives weren’t changed by books at that age.
So I found myself in Facebook. Where else could a pose a question like that to as many people as possible, and hope to get an answer.
I got the usual answer that Bible had changed people’s lives. It is the book that has changed, and keeps changing my life. But I think writing a book review of Bible just is beyond my abilities.
I could write book reviews on specific books of Bible. But nobody told me of a specific book in Bible that had changed their life. So that wasn’t possible.
The one answer that aroused my curiosity was by a friend who told me that Tarzan books had changed her life. That was something I couldn’t pass.
I won’t tell why the books changed her life but it has to do with the work she does now, as an adult. But I will tell that Tarzan books did affect my life also.
I read them quite many times as a child and even as a teenager. My dream was to live in Africa myself, to see the lions and elephants, the jungle and the apes.
You can imagine my disappointment when I found out that real Africa wasn’t exactly as Edgar Rice Burroughs describes it. Or that the great apes he writes about don’t even exist. I don’t know till this day which was the more painful disappointment of the two.
I think I stopped reading the books partly because of my disappointment, although I did continue reading Edgar Rice Burroughs’s other books. As a teenager I was especially fond of his Mars and Center of the Earth books. And later on, as an adult, I was delighted when I found his Venus books.
Another reason to stop reading Tarzan books was because I grew up and they seemed too two dimensional and childish to me.
It was a great delight to read the first four books of the series again. The characters are two dimensional and cartoonish; Edgar Rice Burroughs was the great master of pulp fiction after all. And there is undoubtedly much more racism and pure ignorance in the books than I remember from my childhood. But at the same time, the books are enjoyable and a fun, light read.
Something I must also confess, is that I never really enjoyed the Tarzan movies. Especially the old ones, where Tarzan can't even really speak and is always just swinging around undressed with the jungle animals. They completely miss the side of him as an English lord, posh, polished and cultured as any of them.
My all-time favorites have always been the Tarzan of the Apes and The Son of Tarzan, both of which describe the struggle to survive in the jungle. And I can’t really describe how many times I played Tarzan myself in my childhood.
I never accepted to be Jane, she was too boring. I was Tarzan, so were my friends, and my little sister, and any other little siblings there were, would be the apes. It did take negotiations but we made it do, and had a lot of fun too. Luckily our parents considered playing in the forest a healthy exercise for us, as well as climbing to trees and jumping from one to another. And nobody ever broke any bones.