I had been thinking all week about what I wanted to talk about and it was reading and how my life has been transformed since a person in my life introduced me to slowing down and enjoying life and learning the art of reading books. Then this afternoon a good friend, Zach Davis, posted an article about the B’ham! Damn you Zach and myself for being so fickle. This is the article, check it out they played us up. Well I have decided to go back to the original plan, BOOKS, I will gush over B’ham later.
If you know me you would think that I had been reading since about 5 years old, but alas I am like those Christians who had found religion after not believing for most of their lives- overzealous to a nauseating extent. I was 21 years old before I started my major voyage into literature. I was living in the Montevallo dorms with my friend Scott Ingram when he turned me to the side of intellect. Scott taught me 2 very important things: 1) I need to calm down and 2) he introduced me to books him being a literature major. Now back to point #1. The calming thing helped me through so much. Scott and I lived together for a couple of years and I moved up to North Carolina to finish my grad work where he was working and in those years we had a very opposite effect on each other. He calmed me while I… I do not know what Scott got from me, but I am sure he could at least say one good thing. We would travel to places and when we got there he would make me just sit and take it all in, he forbade me to talk for a duration of time. If you know me you know this can be hard, but he helped shaped who I am today with this technique. I listened to Scott because I trusted him. We had similar goals in life and this helped us grow very close. He also kept handing me books to read. I read some of them, but it also got me to start reading myself and different books, books that interested me. I was a history major so I had to do a lot of reading, but up till that point it always seemed like work. Reading for my enjoyment had never even cross this thick skull of mine.
Then the flood gates opened. I remember the moment when the levee broke. I was in that dorm room reading “The Wastelands” by Stephen King, Book 3 in the Dark Tower series, and I started it that morning and skipped two classes and read into the night till I finished the book. It was a jaunt of about 4oo pages in a day. It was unheard of for me to do anything that long at one time. Hell, I have never slept that long in my life. Yet, that day stands out as my 1st day as full blown addict. From that day forward you could see me in a dark alley scratching my arms looking for the next hit, but my next hit were in Barnes and Nobles. Mark, my good friend, would love to take me into any bookstore and he secretly would laugh to himself about how many books I would leave with. Since that moment it has become a part of my being that I will never shake.
I read all types of books, but as any true reader knows, we have our genres. I will never knock anyone for what they want to read. My two fixes are Science Fiction and Fantasy. Satire is right up there, Vonnegut being my favorite author of all time. Sci-fi being so great because it deals with many ethical questions we have with society in a very universe that may not exist. It brings many questions into your head that makes other thoughts spin into other thoughts and then there is this wicked rabbit hole that you have to dig yourself back to reality. They are normally easy reads with interesting ideas sprinkled throughout the book or series. Two great ones to start with if you do not subscribe to the genre are : “The Forever War” and 2nd “Old Man’s War”. Both by different authors, not super hard reads, but great books. The other genre I jones for is fantasy. This are normally epic adventures written over many many books. They are normally longer and just seemed to be filled with so much kick-assedness it is hard to understand. In this genre you get hooked on character development. This genre is akin to the modern day television series where you really get into characters such as “The Sopranos”, “Breaking Bad”, or things of that ilk. Right now everyone is up in arms with “A Song of Ice and Fire”. If you are not a reader you will know it from its HBO title as “Game of Thrones”. It is an epic fantasy series, but is not finished and if that scares you be weary. Martin, the author had only finished 5 books and speaks of more. But, as we know from the past anything can happen such as after reading 4 books in Stephen King’s “The Darktower” series, he almost died before he finished and people reading the series all held their breathe hoping for the best for their beloved storyteller and hoping we would get the last 3 books. In my opinion “The Dark Tower” series is one of the greatest series from any genre. It is by far my favorite series I have ever read.
That was just some thoughts on books I love and my foray into the world of reading. It is apparent to me that this is a habit that has truly grabbed me by the fact that I am excited about rereading books. When this happens to you, you know that addiction is something that you must come to terms with and admitting it will help solve the problem. I have two boys and I hope to impart on them the joy of reading at a much earlier age than I got the bug. We read with them constantly and they are already getting the hang of reading. My 4 and 1/2 year old is learning to read and it makes me proud to watch him learn and I get excited about all the books we can read together at night before he goes to sleep. My love of reading is spreading to the next generation and I love it. As I have always told my students, read anything. Anything you read makes you smarter and who doesn’t want to be smart? (that was supposed to rhetorical) Pick up a magazine, book, or get a newspaper on your ipad. Just read something and maybe you will find the joy that I get almost everyday from having a world to engulf myself in, to get away from or enhance the reality of my world.