jessicareadsMy love of story began about the time I learned to walk. I listened to mother read bedtime stories and my brothers and I would tell each other about our adventures. The time with my mother was precious because she held two jobs. On nights when she was too tired to read to us, my older brother Jon would read to me and to baby brother Jim. Jon learned to read before kindergarten. He managed Dr. Seuss books well. Little by little, he taught me the magic of deciphering the squiggles on the page.

My baby brother has an Eidetic memory, what is commonly called a photographic memory. He learned to read a page at a time, while I plodded along sounding out vowels and consonants. By the time Jon and I reached high school, Jim was in middle school, and mother bought a collection of 100 classics in paperback. She challenged us to read them all.

We did.

My baby brother also read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica just to show off, the know-it-all. We debated the merits of various classics over dinner. We argued over whether Frankenstein or Dracula brought on the worst nightmares. None of us enjoyed the Red Badge of Courage. We all treasured To Kill a Mockingbird. Sure, we watched television and movies, too, which I think of as short-term stories. We can usually figure out the ending of a movie half-way through because we understand storytelling techniques. Notable exceptions are: The Sixth Sense, What Dreams May Come, Sleuth, Shutter Island, The Prestige, The Usual Suspects, and The Others. I adore these movies for surprising me.

Give me a book and let me fall into another world and I’m content. An omnivorous reader, I consume a book a week. John Grisham, Robert Heinlein, Jodi Picoult, Dennis Lehane, Janet Evanovich, Arthur C. Clark, Dan Brown, James W. Hall, Elizabeth George, Laura Lippman, Ian McEwan, Linda Castillo, J.K. Rowling and many more!

Mother gave us a great gift—the love of reading. Now as adults, my baby brother is a radiologist. Jon served in the Air Force in communications and now works in the computer industry. Me? I’m a mother and an author. My goal in life is to leave a legacy of stories. What a wonderful thing it is to draw a reader into a new world, to see life through a different lens, to awe, to inspire, to entertain.

If you had to leave earth with only an armload of books, which ones would you take? And why?

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