I am a reader. My favorite genres include mystery, suspense, thriller, romance, science fiction, and adventure. I read memoirs and history, newspapers, magazines, and if nothing else is handy, the cereal box. This addiction began at age four when my five-year-old brother started reading to me. I saw blotches of black lines and squiggles under the pictures. He ran his finger along the blotches, transforming them into sounds, words, sentences, and stories. I wanted that magic, that superpower.
In time, my brothers and I discovered that most magical of places—the public library! Unleashed in the children’s section, we read and read until mother dragged us out with armloads of loaners. Such riches! We could travel in time and space on adventures and learn about places far from home. Though mother probably brought us to the library so she could study in peace for her eventual law degree, she did us a huge favor. She kept us away from late afternoons of mind-numbing television.
When I travel to New York City, my must-see location is the New York City Public Library and to visit Patience and Fortitude, the lions who stand guard.
By high school, my brothers and I launched into a competition to read the set of 100 classics in paperback that Mom had purchased. Baby brother, not to be outdone, read the Encyclopedia Britannica set as well. We teased him that only a geek reads reference books, but truth be told, I kept a dictionary by my bed to scour it for new words like syzygy and conflagration to drop into conversation. With reading comes a love for words. In my family, Scrabble is a blood sport.
In college, I studied 300 plays in depth. I had planned to work for a newspaper by day and write plays at night. Fortunately, that didn’t work out. I ended up writing for business, then for magazines, followed by a stint teaching report writing at a police academy, and then publishing my first novel. Throughout the decades, the joy of reading continued.
A website called Goodreads.com became the social media site for readers, so I set up a profile and started listing books I’d read. It would have been easier check off books from a list of classics and the most popular books in the last the thirty years than to name them from memory. Since joining the site, I have tried to rate and review books as soon as I finish them. So many new authors, so many new books by my favorite authors, the to-be-read list is laughably long and considerably incomplete. May I live to read them all.
I read everything but erotica. The three erotica books I read were boring. Seriously, if Tom Clancy put a car chase in every scene, his stories would have been boring. If Stephen King put a killer clown in every story, well, forget suspense. Predictability turns me off.
I cannot imagine life without books. When someone says, “I don’t read” my first thought is “you poor thing.” No stirring of the imagination, no laughter, no seeing the world from a new perspective, no growth, no adventure, no new ideas, no passion…might as well take away color and music from the world. Do non-readers dream in gray?
The Favorite Authors
When asked to name my favorite authors, I begin with Richard Adams, Aesop, Mitch Albom, Louisa May Alcott, Isabele Allende, Poul Anderson, Piers Anthony, Aristotle, Isaac Asimov, Margaret Atwood, Jane Austin, David Baldacci, J. M. Barrie, Dave Barry, L. Frank Baum, Samuel Beckett, Peter Benchley, Steve Berry, Maeve Binchy, William Peter Blatty, Judy Blume, Ben Bova, Ray Bradbury, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Charlotte Bronte, Geraldine Brooks, Dan Brown, Sandra Brown, Edna Buchanan, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Meg Cabot, Erskine Caldwell, Taylor Caldwell, Truman Capote, Orson Scott Card, Lewis Carroll, Willa Cather, Raymond Chandler, Anton Chekhov, Lee Child, Agatha Christie, Winston Churchill, Tom Clancy, Mary Higgins Clark, Arthur C. Clarke, Beverly Cleary, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Harlan Coben, Jackie Collins, William Congreve, Joseph Conrad, Robin Cook, James Fenimore Cooper, Patricia Cornwell, Michael Crichton, E. E. Cummings, and Clive Cussler…
People stop me long before I reach the D surnames.
My husband begs me to buy books on Kindle to prevent book hoarding. I call it collecting. The books aren’t stacked two rows per shelf everywhere…yet. If I ever lose my vision, then I’ll switch to audio books.
Call me a book addict. Call me a bookworm. Call me when there’s a book sale.
This article first appeared on the blog Not Your Usual Suspects on January 19, 2018.