A natural part of growing up for most of us is the loss of imagination. It doesn’t totally disappear, we just stop using it as much or start using it in different ways. Instead of imagining being an astronaut and flying to the moon we imagine that two-story house with the white picket fence. Our dreams are more down to earth. I think that’s why books that have magical qualities, books that stretch the imagination and push it to its limits are rare in books written for adults. There are obvious exceptions. For example, sci-fi and fantasy genres are full of magical and imaginative settings, characters, and adventures that take us to our youth. When you look at those books though, those are targeted to a specific set of people, people who never lost that great imagination. It’s rare that something will grab the mainstream and make us feel like kids again. The Lord of the Rings, thanks to the movies, found a new generation of fans. The Harry Potter series made adults remember what it was like to be a kid. Those seem to be exceptions to the rules though.
A couple years ago I read a book entitled The Iowa Baseball Confederacy. It was written by W.P. Kinsella, the author of Shoeless Joe (which became the excellent movie Field of Dreams). This is one of those books that is so over the top and out of reality that it makes you feel like a kid again. It makes you feel the magic as you read it. It’s not only about that though. No, not unlike Shoeless Joe, The Iowa Baseball Confederacy also has deeper meaning, and that is about a young man’s relationship with his dead father. The setting is in Iowa where a young man is trying to save his family’s legacy that a game played by the Iowa Baseball Confederacy All-Stars and the Chicago Cubs was played in 1908. No one remembers it ever happening, and there is no proof of this game ever existing, except in the main character and his dad’s heads. What ensues is a story so magical that you can’t help be caught up in it. It’s so good, I just started reading it again. Do yourself a favor, forget you’re an adult for a day, or maybe two, or three, and pick up this book, or any book that hits you with that same type of magic that you felt when you were a kid. It’ll be worth it, if only for a short while.