I don’t remember the book that turned me on to reading. I see this topic discussed across the Internet and I wonder how it is possible to have just one book that made a person a reader. The thing is, I don’t remember a time when books weren’t part of my life.
One of two books stands out in my mind as being The First, I just don’t remember which came first. Either Alice in Wonderland or The Hobbit was the first book that my father read to me. Both of my parents read to me when I was a child. My mother stuck to the age appropriate Little Golden Books or memorized the tongue twisting Dr. Seuss (Fox in Socks remains a favorite). But, Dad, he tackled the novels, well above my reading level and possibly even my comprehension. Until one day, when I wanted a repeat trip to a movie my parents didn’t want to see again and my dad presented me with the novelization of the movie. Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom was my introduction to reading just one more chapter. Should I be embarrassed? I’m not.
From Indy forward, bedtime was just the start of my night. I would read anything my parents would let me and they were pretty liberal with what they let me read. By the time I graduated from high school, I had put a fairly large dent in the horror section of the local bookstore. A few years later, my dad introduced me to Lucas Davenport of the Prey series and the mystery section became my new favorite hangout.
Then I took a literature class while I was stationed in Italy. I realized that through books and studying the people that wrote them, I could learn about history on a more personal level. I took a field study class in Paris and walked the same streets as Christopher Newman and Claire de Bellegarde. I visited the same bars and restaurants as Edith Wharton and Ernst Hemingway. And, of course, I kissed the grave of Oscar Wilde. I, also, tripped over the grave of Proust, but let’s not talk about that. I had found the thing that I loved and wanted to study. The US Navy didn’t agree.
My Bachelors of Science is in a “career enhancing” field that the Navy looked favorably on. I have not used it since retiring from the Navy. I have no desire to study workforce education any further. My current position in local government would rather I study urban planning or public administration but I want to study the thing I love. I want to sit with people that love to read and argue the finer, or not so fine, points of a novel. I want to learn about the histories of the authors and the times they lived in. I want to argue the differences between Lily Bart’s civilization and Huck Finn’s sivilization. I want to be introduced to authors and works that I’ve never heard of and let them take me to places I’ve never been.
The US Navy took me around the world and I’ve seen many countries. Now, I’d like to read about those places through someone else’s eyes and stories.