For someone like myself who has not been a lifelong avid reader, this may seem like an odd title to post—a bit of explanation is in order.
Growing up, my mother was an incredibly voluminous reader. She would come home from the public library with a satchel full of seven-day books. She would have them read, returned, and a new satchel full back in the home before they were overdue. How this love for reading didn’t rub off on me when I was young I will never know. I can only speculate that playing outside or building models attracted my attention much more so than sitting and reading.
I can recall as a pre-teen reading very little beyond what was required for school. When I got into high school, my mother began to suggest books that I might like to read and as a result got interested in reading Agatha Christie (one of my mother’s favorite authors) and Arthur Hailey. For a while, these were the only two authors I read. And since I was such a slow reader, and had a lot of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple novels to catch up on, I could always be in the middle of one these two authors and always have something to read.
In college, I only had time to read what was required for my course work. And being a chemistry major, my reading became even slower as I would have to read and often reread my chemistry, biology, physics, and calculus textbooks for comprehension. I couldn’t afford to skip over words like some speed-readers do or I might miss the concept I was trying to learn.
With this limited exposure to books growing up, it seems a little surprising to me that I married a woman who could probably read my mother under the bookshelf. I’ll never forget when we were still newlyweds and belonged to a book of the month club, we received Robert Ludlum’s new novel at the time, The Bourne Identity. We probably got home about 4 or 4:30 in the afternoon and found the book in our mailbox—my wife had it read before bedtime. In spite of this being quite a suspenseful page-turner, it still took me over a month to read it.
For most of my married life, I have always had a book I was reading but it might take a month or more for me to finish it. I read mostly fiction and limited my selection to just a few authors: Patricia Cornwell, Tom Clancey, Robert Ludlum, John Grisham, Ken Follet, Robin Cook, and my favorite, Clive Cussler. Since I read less than 12 books a year, I could usually count on having a book to read from one of these authors as they usually published at least one book a year. I recall looking forward to the regular time of year when one of these authors would release their new book. I remember Patricia Cornwell, another of my mother’s favorites typically releasing her new Kay Scarpetta novel in September and I would get one copy for myself and one as a gift for my mother whose birthday fell in September.
I must credit my wife with saving me from this self-imposed limited library and introducing me to a number of other excellent books from outstanding authors.
Somewhere along the way of expanding my reading, I got interested in reading non-fiction, in particular history. And some of the non-fiction I enjoyed the most were books that told the story about things being built (a story for another time). I have never been able to read more than one book at a time because I would get characters from one book confused with those from another. But once I started reading non-fiction, I found that I could have a fiction novel and a non-fiction novel going at the same time since it was easy to keep made up characters separate from real life ones. For me, this was like switching to warp speed; reading two books at the same time.
Now that I have reached this milestone, my reading pace has accelerated and I can no longer keep up with all the books I want to read. I maintain an active wish list on Amazon of books I plan to purchase and read—I call them my books in waiting.
Encouraged by my daughter and her blog post review of memorable books she read in 2012, I have been keeping a list of all the books I have read this year. So far through the first six months of 2013, I have read 17 books—a personal record for me. And I plan to read a lot more. So as my books in waiting become my books in reading, I plan to continue to add to both lists. I listen to NPR’s book podcast each week to learn about new releases and I have already added numerous interesting titles.
So no longer am I limited to just a few authors; no longer am I limited to just fiction novels. Now I am only limited by the amount of free time I can squeeze into my day to consume a small portion of the vast world of books out there. For someone who reads a tremendous amount, this all might seem trite. But trust me when I say, this is a wonderful awakening for me and I look forward to all of the exciting armchair travels I’ll being taking in the future.