There’s nothing cooler than the deafening silence inside your car as your kids strap in after leaving the library, open a book and immediately begin to read.
I remember going to the library as a kid and being totally overwhelmed with all of the options. I would walk up and down the stacks at my school or at the Cross Lanes branch of the Kanawha County Public Library, and once or twice the downtown library and just stare at the names and titles on the spines. Books were just amazing to me. Probably the biggest inspiration for me to read was my mom. She was always reading. She read what I read, she read what she wanted to read and there was always a stack of books around. She was, and is, one of the biggest readers I know.
Books were the ultimate adventure for me (much more than movies or television)…and they still are, although I don’t often get as much time to just read as I would like. As a kid growing up, I knew things about the world far from the borders of my home because of those books. The only magazine I remember reading growing up was National Geographic World and that definitely factored into my mental wanderings as well.
A little later in life, as an adolescent, I signed up for a book-of-the-month club and was usually done with whatever they sent me long before it was time to get another book in the mail. It was a science fiction and fantasy book club and I have no doubt helped form the imaginings of my early teen years. It introduced me to Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Robert Lynn Aspirin among others. Remember, this would have been around 1980 or so. NASA returned to space with the space shuttle program in 1981. It seemed reality was finally catching up to the adventure of the big screen with Star Wars and such.
It’s interesting (to me at any rate) that I never imagined myself writing books. I never really thought about writing until I went to college and got involved in the Journalism program at Marshall. And even then I never thought about writing fiction. At some point, though, after reading a story from one of my favorite authors, I thought to myself “I can do that.” And now I can’t imagine doing anything else. That first story was Cayman Cowboys. Several more novels and short stories have followed. For me, writing is like reading…except I get to tell the characters what to do next. The only frustrating thing is sometimes I can’t type fast enough to keep up with the story in my head.
So, today, I took my daughters to local branch of my public library. They both already had library cards from a school trip so it was just up to me to get a new one. I hadn’t gone into a library since I moved back to West Virginia about six months ago. And, of course, I walked out of there with three books for me, and two each for the girls. We also signed up for the Summer Reading Program, although I want to be careful to keep reading fun and not make it a chore. It’s been fun as well to watch the girls read the kids stories I have written like Swimming with Sharks. They often look at me and tell me “She wouldn’t have done that!” referring to one of the characters loosely based on them.
I have no delusions that taking the girls to the library today will set either girl on a path to adventure. But I do know that books can do that all by themselves. And that’s all that really matters..