Boy by Roald Dahl

Bryan, why are you reading children’s books? 

Well to my surprise this wasn’t technically a children’s book (although I have been working through the Roald Dahl collection with my oldest daughter). This is, in fact, Part 1 of Roald Dahl’s autobiography. Which, in my opinion, was really good. And it’s why I’m sharing it here. 

Picture of the book 'Boy' by Roald Dahl

Growing up I was always a fan of Dahl. Especially ‘James and the Giant Peach’ which I read at least a few times. So it was nice to pick up his autobiography and learn more about his life. 

To start, as a kid he gets into a ton of shenanigans. 

Dahl and his friends prank the owner of a local candy shop by putting a dead mouse (as seen on the cover) into a jar of candy. An interesting section to read because while it was funny, I had to remember that my daughter was reading along with me. I made a point to ask her what she thought about this part of the story (she thought it was funny) and wether or not she would do the same in real life (she wouldn’t), and why it wouldn’t be nice to do this to someone. 

In general, I’ve found it difficult to manage these types of inputs with my kids. It’s surprisingly a reoccurring theme in children’s books. Humour at the expense of others that shouldn’t be replicated in real life. 

The book also provided a good view of what public schools in England looked like in the 1920s/30s. Let’s just say that corporal punishment was a recurring theme and my daughter is happy that they don’t do this in her school. 

Alas I don’t want to focus on every story that is shared in the book. If you want that I suggest you pick up a copy and read it. What I did enjoy the most was this quote near to end: 

The life of a writer is absolute hell compared with the life of a businessman. The writer has to force himself to work. He has to make his own hours and if he doesn’t go to his desk at all there is nobody to scold him. If he is a writer of fiction he lives in a world of fear. Each new days demands new ideas and he can never be sure whether he is going to come up with them or not.

Roald Dahl in Boy

You might know that I’m a fan of Steven Pressfield’s book ‘The War of Art’. This quote above really resonates with the same idea presented by Pressfield. As writer, or anyone in a creative profession (artist, entrepreneur, etc) the hardest thing to do is to sit down, consistently, and work. And yes, you live in this constant world of fear and pressure. You have to get used of showing up, doing your work and having nothing to show for it.

Somedays you can give it your all and feel like you’ve done nothing. Other days the work will just flow out of you without any effort. It’s showing up every day that counts.