Somewhere along the line, the 1984 film Coot Club was on the shelf at the library. Some member of my family brought it home, and I remember watching it, on what was probably a summer afternoon, my mother outside mowing the lawn. I don't remember how old I was, but I would have been in elementary school.
That was how I discovered Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome's series about children and boats and adventures. I wanted to be an English child in the 1930s so bad, and I wanted a little sailboat and some siblings to play in it with. I remember reading Eyewitness books (weren't those great?) about boats and sailing, and the little rowboat we had at my grandparents house was never quite good enough. There are a dozen of the books, with some that stand out most to me such as Winter Holiday, where they built a sort of ice and snow house, I think, or Pigeon Post, when they had homing pigeons and went mining for gold, and especially, We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea, when the four Swallows were asleep in a boat in a river that slipped its moorings and took them to Holland. I spent a lot of time making maps of islands and rivers and things, drawing fancy little compass roses and whatnot. These books were an enormous part of my childhood.
I reread the first two, Swallows and Amazons and Swallowdale, a few years ago, and happily they very much bore up to my more critical eye to the writing. I'd love to reread the rest, and I'm tempted to ask for a box set for Christmas. Some I have only extremely vague memories of, and one or two I'm not at all positive I actually read. When I first read them I didn't know anyone else who had, but I've since acquired a couple of friends who did and loved them as much as I did, though wouldn't it have been lovely to have been children together and maybe had a better chance of enacting numerous plans for similar nautical adventures.
Some books I read as a child I love now just for sentimental reasons, such as Little House on the Prairie, which certainly played to my interests as a child but doesn't so much any more. Swallows and Amazons, though, I still love for its content, especially its very lovable characters and its setting. I never stopped wanting a little sailboat.