Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reader's digest

Reading was the last thing I wanted to do when I was growing up. To crack open a book meant to sit still for more than five minutes. I could read; I just didn't like it much. Books were plain and simple torture. To not be active with my feet and hands, or outside with my imagination, was a dreadful interruption to the rhythmic pace of being a boy. I would rather ride my bike, play baseball, shoot Germans and Japs, play war, build forts for cowboys and Indians, play cops and robbers, or daydream on my back in a field behind my house sporting a long blade of grass between my teeth as I pondered majestic, white clouds and blue sky, and the many white trails of jet airplanes speeding out of sight.

It was a good life; a boy's life. Reading had no place in it, riding shotgun, stifling an energetic, adventurous existence.

My overachieving, book-devouring older sister got the ice cream cones and shiny stars on her summer chart every year as yours truly resisted the drudgery of reading, and went without the trivial rewards: stickers and ice cream. Big whoop.

One summer day, I heard sobbing from her bedroom. She'd been reading Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls. Old Dan must've bought it, after a skirmish with a Mountain Lion. Through tears and blubbering despair she set about to tell the whole story to her little brother -- as was her style, and still is. The book cover looked boring. It wasn't soon after the weeping and shortness of breath in her voice gave way to the familiar sound of an untimely book report. It seemed a good time to leave. So, I stranded her on the spot, all alone with her tears, to the sound of loud bawling, more so than before.

My lack of enthusiasm for the written word lead to my lack of enthusiasm in the classroom. But that's another story altogether.

Regret is all that is left now; a reminder for all the years I spent fighting a simple pleasure in life: the joy of letting a story wash over you and hold your mind hostage for a short time. Maybe adventure is ripe for the taking when you're young -- for some like me. But now, in the monotony of grown up life, adventure eludes us all.

Crack open a book let your mind take you places you never imagined.

My appetite for reading is healthy enough now. I count 20 book titles below that I've enjoyed in 2010, and recommend all of them. A lot of fiction, and a few serious books too. I hope to read 40 books in 2011.

In order:

Stephen Hunter
-47th Samurai
-Nights of Thunder

Malcolm Gladwell
-The Tipping Point
-The Outliers
-What the Dog Saw (audio)

Stieg Larsson
-The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
-The Girl who Played with Fire
-The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Stephen Hunter

Stephen Coonts
-The Disciple

Daniel Suarez
-The Daemon
-Freedom TM

Justin Halpern
-Sh*t My Dad Says

Chip & Dan Heath
-Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

Robert Jordan
-The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time series)
-The Great Hunt
-The Dragon Reborn
-The Shadow Rising

Robert Leckie
-Helmet for My Pillow

What did you enjoy reading in 2010?