Monday, February 9, 2015

The Daily Reader

I started reading comic books in the mid to late 50's.......got $1 per week for allowance, and at .10 cents per comic book, back then, I would buy 10 comic books a week with that allowance.  At one point I had a large box filled with between 500 and a 1,000 comic books.....you know....Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern.....all of them.  Actually, according to my Mom, those comic books helped build my vocabulary.  I would read and re-read those comic books until they were 'dog eared'.  Certainly none of them would have been 'collectible' due to their rough condition.

Then in early 60's my mother signed me up at the local library in the 'book-a-week' club, or something like that.  Up to that point I was not a big reader......in fact I cannot remember reading a book by choice up to that point.  The first book I remember reading that summer was a book called "Big-enough Boat" by Dorothy Evans Phillips (I seriously did not remember the author's name....had to "Google" it).  I cannot really tell you what the book was about, or really any titles of the other 8, or 9 books I read that summer as a part of the 'book-a-week' program.  What I can tell you is that summer the seeds were planted for a love of reading.  



In the 8th grade a classmate, Byron Duke, introduced me to a series of books by Franklin W. Dixon called the 'Hardy Boy Mysteries'.  He had a few of them, which he loaned to me.....before long I was combing the local used books stores on Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena, CA looking for every Hardy Boy Mystery I could find.  This was before 'Old Town Pasadena' was born.....back in the 60's Colorado Blvd. was quite the seedy place.  Back then you could buy them for about .05 cents used.  There are approximately 60+ of these books and over time I acquired most of them.  There were a number of boys in my class that also read these books and between all of us we had them all, and frequently traded them back and forth.



Another friend in 8th grade, Greg Kloster, was way ahead of the rest of us.....he was already readying books by Leon Uris such as Mila 18, Armageddon, Exodus, Topaz, The Haj, etc.  He would tell me about those books, and even though they were a little advanced for me at the time, I remembered them, and actually read them in college.

Byron, whom I have mentioned previously, and I went to the same college, and it was during my freshman year that he turned me on to an author by the name of Louis L'Amour and my love affair with the 'Western' genre began.  Most of L'Amour's books are quick reads......less than 200 pages, but he has written a few novels which approach 800 pages (Sitka, Last of the Breed, The Lonesome Gods, Comstock Lode to name a few).  I have probably read all of his books at least twice, and some 3, or 4 times.  In fact, just a few days ago I finished reading the 17th book in his 'Sackett' series.  I had never read them in chronological order before, and now that I have all the time in the world I decided to do just that.



After college I began to ready large novels by James Michener.....his novels frequently exceed 1,000 pages.....my problem, is once I start reading a book, and it captures my imagination I have a difficult time putting the book down.  I become consumed by the story.  One of the first Michener books I read was 'The Covenant'....about 1100+ pages.  I read it in 3 days.  I devoured his books one after another (Chesapeake, Hawaii, The Source, Caravan, etc.).

Whenever I fly I have to have a book to read to make the time pass quickly......I hate flying for more than a few hours, but reading makes it seem much shorter.  One morning years ago TLE and I were sitting in the Ontario International Airport waiting for a flight.....I think we were flying to Wisconsin to visit family....... I suddenly realized I had nothing to read on the plane.  A sort of tightness gripped my throat as my eyes cast about up and down the concourse looking for a store that had books.  I found one quickly and began looking for a western.......I came across a book called 'The Gunslinger' by Stephen King.....wait, what?  I was intrigued......I have never been a big Stephen King fan, and had no idea he had written a western, but there I stood with that book with an illustration of a cowboy holding a large revolver.  I heard our flight being 'called' over the P.A. system, so I hurriedly completed the purchase of 'The Gunslinger' and headed back to the boarding line.  What I didn't know at the time was that this was the first book in a series of 7 books called 'The Dark Tower'.  It was not really a series of westerns......come on now, this is Stephen King, right?  I started reading the book on the plane, and realized pretty quickly it was not your typical western......in fact, it was more about parallel universes.  I finished the book a day, or so after we arrived, and immediately headed over to Barnes and Noble to buy the next four books in the series.  To make a long story a little shorter.....I finished the 7 book series (some 8,000+ pages) in just over 2 weeks.  As it turned out the final book in the series had just been released a few days after I finished book 6.....what great timing!



By the way, if you have never read 'The Dark Tower' series check it out.....I found the premise very intriguing.  Just one big caution.....when you get to the end of the 7th book and think it is over, you will turn the page and see that Stephen King has written an alternative ending......I sort of wish I had let the story end based on the first ending, but that's just me.  All I am saying is think hard about your choice.

So, why am I writing about books?  Good question.  Since we hit the road 3 years ago I have read over 200 books on my Kindle, and reading is one of those things I love about being retired.....I have more time to read, and it doesn't matter if I stay up until 3 am finishing a book......there are always naps!

So, by this point you may be wondering 'so what happened Sunday?'......what happened Sunday was after TLE and I took a 3 mile walk I pretty much spent the rest of the day reading a book I could not put down.....I sat outside enjoying the balmy air, and warming sunshine just reading, and listening to classic rock play in the background.  In my mind it was a day lived well......

Thanks for stopping by!

2 comments:

  1. Books.... " The First Fast Draw" was my first L'Amour book, a high school history teacher caught me reading it and told me it was good book.
    Robert A Heinlein, Larry Niven & John D McDonald were always favorites.
    I read the Drifters (Michener) right after high school, still have not made it to Pamplona yet.

    When we moved into the RV most of my books went away but after a bit I went to the used book stores to re-buy the Men At War series by W.E.B. Griffin... good enough stories that I do reread them on occasion & have kept them.
    Used book stores? Powell's in Portland and a great one in Rockport Texas (The Used Book Warehouse) are two that I like.
    Books are always worth talking about if you ask me!

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  2. Hey Rob, thanks for your comment. Love hearing about other's favorite authors.

    ReplyDelete