“Fifteen men on the Dead Man’s Chest Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”

Books on Tap met virtually to discuss Treasure Island  by Robert Louis Stevenson, as per our tradition of reading a classic at least once a year. Primarily remembered as a boy’s adventure story, it did lend itself to a lively discussion. 

Those of us reading it for the first time were put off by the nautical terms and more than one was confused by the staging of the action. Others were better able to engage by listening to the audiobook or watching a film adaptation (see below). 

We were surprised to find that many of the things we think of as pirate cliches are present already in this 1883 novel (serialized from 1881-1882). We encountered men with peg legs and one eyes, parrots on shoulders, mutinies, barrels of rum,  pieces of eight and undifferentiated “natives.” Hidden in this adventure tale is an anti-hero. Long John Silver is feared as a violent pirate before he shows up on the page. Jim, our young hero, is terrified of the man until they are thrown together and Jim recognizes the man’s cunning charm. Stevenson doesn’t make a moral judgement but does spotlight the way that greed overcomes ethics and creates shifting alliances. Due to the novel’s dense language, casual violence, sole woman character and questionable representation of “natives,” we wouldn’t recommend it to today’s young reluctant readers. 

Stevensons’s biography intrigued us as much as the novel. Born into wealth in Edinburgh in 1850, he had severe respiratory illness for most of his life. He frequently traveled to warmer areas in Europe, and the United States, dying in Samoa at 44. He followed a widow from Switzerland to the US and later wrote Treasure Island to entertain her son. We wondered if his imagination blossomed during periods of isolation while recovering. One of our members remembers visiting Robert Louis Stevenson-related sites while a child in Northern California. 

Books on Tap will meet again on November 5 via Zoom. For the link, please contact Krista Farrell (kfarrell at jmrl dot org).  We’ll be reading My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite,which the library owns in multiple formats. Email Sarah Hamfeldt (shamfeldt at jmrl dot org) for help accessing these titles for curbside pickup or by download. 

More Information:
About the Author
Biography (may require library card login)
Great Lives podcast
Wikipedia entry 

About the Novel
Synopsis  (may require library card login)
Wikipedia entry

Other works by Stevenson (including poetry)
Modern parrots who would be at home in a Stevenson novel 

Other Titles Discussed
English Passengers by Matthew Kneale
McTeague by Frank Norris 

Film Adaptations:
Available at JMRL
2012 series starring Eddie Izzard, recommended by a book club member 

Upcoming Meetings:
November 5: My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
December 3: Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

Virtual Learning and Homeschooling Tips program tomorrow

Are you overwhelmed or confused about the current school situation?

JMRL is hosting a Virtual Learning and Homeschooling Tips program on Saturday, October 3, from 10:30am – 12pm to help answer your questions!

Scottsville Library Interim Branch Manager Anne Lindberg said the program will help guide families through virtual learning and/or homeschooling.

“JMRL is excited to partner with educational experts to provide resources and advice about virtual learning and homeschooling,” she said.

“Families are grappling for the first time with a new kind of education for their children and teens, so join us to learn tips, ask questions and find community in this new educational landscape. You’re not alone! “

Participants will also hear from individuals with firsthand experience in homeschooling and virtual learning.

For more information and to register for this virtual event, visit jmrl.org.

Central Library adds Sunday hours

JMRL’s Central Library is scheduled to add Sunday phone assistance and curbside pick-up hours, 1-5pm, starting October 4.

Library Director David Plunkett said adding the hours at Central will benefit patrons that may not be able to pick up their holds during the current hours.

“This is the ONLY Sunday service in JMRL, so it is a crucial piece of customer service for working families,” he said.

Central Library is also open for curbside services during the below times:

  • Monday, 1-7pm
  • Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-4pm

For information about JMRL’s hours and services, visit jmrl.org.