This post was originally published on Medium here.
When I was a kid I loved to read. I would check out book after book from the Elmhurst (IL) Public Library in stacks of five at a time and go through them like my life depended on it. That continued through my early junior high years, when I would discover authors like Tom Clancy, Douglas Adams and others whose writing would fill my imagination.
But then two things coincided to rekindle that love of books: I got my drivers license and got my first job. So, in the summer of 1991 I was able to get myself to the Borders close to home and buy Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Norman Mclean’s A River Runs Through It, the source novels for two movies coming out soon and which I was looking forward to seeing. From there on out, with access to seemingly *any* book I wanted and the means to buy them I splurged on everything I could all the way through college. Novels, histories, biographies. I read as much as I could.
Once again, though, life got Very Busy. I got married, had kids, began my career and all that. And, aside from something random that would cross my path, I didn’t read for pleasure for a very long time. I rationalized it saying I did so much reading of RSS feeds and other things on the web that I just didn’t have the time or inclination. That there wasn’t a chance for me to pay that much attention to a book for any length of time. And I was likely doing my disinclination to read no favors by focusing on “business” books that whose primary impact was not knowledge but an overpowering desire to take a nap.
My brother-in-law brought over a bunch of stuff he was asking us to store for a little while. Included in all that were a few boxes of his books, most of which were sci-fi/fantasy Lord of the Rings knock-offs from the late 70s and early 80s. But in there amongst all the wizards were a bunch of early Tom Clancy books. So, deciding it would be a fun trip down Memory Lane I cracked open The Hunt For Red October, which I hadn’t read in probably 25 years.
After gulping that down I turned to Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch, something I’d never read, though I had of course seen Jackie Brown, Quentin Tarantino’s film adaptation of the book. And I kept going through the Clancy and Leonard books that were in the boxes. And I’ve started checking out books from the local library on the Kindle that has been largely collecting dust for the last year and a half. I’m halfway through Ready Player One and am enjoying every minute of it, with a long list of books to work through after this one’s done.
Is this something massively important? No, not in the grand scheme of things. Is there a valuable lesson to be learned? No, not really? But it’s a personal story that I hope encourages people who may think they’re too busy or have better things to do to put down what they’re doing and enjoy a good book.