• Why don’t more people read The Phantom Tollbooth?

    I made a passing reference to a book yesterday, and one of the commenters seconded something that has bothered me for years.  Why haven’t more people read The Phantom Tollbooth?

    For years, whenever I spoke to groups about health care reform, I would end with a quotation from the book.  No one ever got the reference.  It always made me a bit sad.

    The book is awesome.  Milo had to rescue Princess Rhyme and Princess Reason, who had previously settled all disputes, after they were foolishly banished for decreeing that letters and numbers were equally important.  Milo ate subtraction stew, which made you hungrier, when he visited Digitopolis.  And he met the Half Boy, who comprised the 0.58 of a person in the average family (which has 2.58 children).

    There was a Mathemagician!

    But more than that, it’s the only book I remember from childhood that had a theme I retained.  It had a message, one that should resonate with everyone.  Here’s the King:

    “…so many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.”

    and Princess Reason:

    “…what you can do is often simply a matter of what you will do.”

    You can be sure my children will read the book.  I’ll probably read it again.  Is there any lesson that’s more important?

    • I agree (again!) I often describe this book to people as like Alice in Wonderland, only with an actual message or theme rather than a simply aimless waltz through weirdness. Tock the Watchdog was always wonderful to me (with his fury over “killing time.”) Two incidents I clearly remember are the sound cannon in the land of silence, and the monster of pointless tasks. There’s a lot of good stuff in there … I need to read it again.

    • thanks. i never knew about that book, but i couldn’t agree more. my children will be getting this under the tree and will be reading it shortly thereafter. appreciate your info!

    • Okay so I promise to stop commenting on your book-related posts, but have you read the same author’s “Dot and the Line”? It’s fantastic. I recently had to come up with two things that have really stayed with me for years, and that was one of them.

    • One of my favorite books of all time, and a turning point in my journey toward menschlikeit. A very important mentor led me to this book, and I am forever grateful.