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For the Love of Books

For me, there are not many feelings that are better than winding down the final few paragraphs of a good book. I usually get a good feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. It’s not passive like a video game or movie, but as the words flow along the pages, the story is taking shape in my mind. The mental stimulation is always worth the time investment in reading something interesting and thought provoking.

HardyBoysOriginal1I grew up before many of the gaming systems came into existence or really the proliferation of computers. I pre-date the advent of consumer Internet (originates back to the 1960s) and vividly remember the transition from the old fashion bulletin board systems to the web. While I love technology and gaming, I feel lucky to have grown up at a time where I was forced to use my imagination or be bored out of my mind. What was my creative and imaginative outlet? Books!

My mom was pretty good at having some around the house and I would usually delve into them with gusto. The books from the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series were some of my favorites. They were quite fun, and what little boy doesn’t like having some choice in how the plot moves along. If I didn’t like one choice, it was easy to go back to the previous section and make a different choice. The possibilities seemed to be endless. I grew up also reading most of the Hardy Boys series, and can remember many of my friends also having many of these titles. The book covers were always fun to look at, and the stories were full of adventure and mystery. I may not remember the plots or much of the characters, but I remember the experience.

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As I matured I discovered other genres; fantasy and science fiction were the next logical progressions for an adolescent boy. Dragons, robots, or spaceships, what else could a growing boy as for? I have varied my reading list more and more over time, adding history and sometimes classic literature to the list, but I invariably end up going back to science fiction and fantasy stories. I just finished one about a female android who has a consciousness and escaped from a militaristic government to learn to live in peace. My next book? Isaac Asimov’s The Caves of Steel”, thus keeping my robot streak intact for at least another book. Some things I will never outgrow it would appear. Yes, there are more mentally and mind challenging stories, but the quest for the future and other possibilities of reality are always fascinating to me. To me, everything seems better when you have a spaceship or robot inserted into the story. I’m 42 years of age, but there is that same child still in my mind and heart.

We are always surrounded by reality. Heading into work to make sure things are going smooth and to pay the bills is a responsibility I take seriously. Developing my professional skills is important and necessary for me to perform well. Trying to be a good person for those that I love and respect is all reality. Watching the news at night…more reality. Parts of the world are seemingly going up in flames, but there are many good things going on as well. Once I pick up a book, my brain relaxes and my imagination takes over. The possibilities are endless. I can be in a world where faster than light travel is nothing unusual. I can also be in a world full of magic and wonder.

I inevitably start off quick, and if the book is good, I can get into it without too much trouble. Some are harder to get into than others, and there are times I put one down and move on, but this is rare as I usually research and give thought to what I will read next. By the middle of a book, I get into a good pace, but as I see the end, I want to push ahead. Not to rush though the story, but to reach the objective, the climax. I love to gaze at cover art, and to see the pages transition to the left side, signifying I am making progress. Seeing the pages turn slightly dark from my fingers rubbing on them, comparing them to the pristine white of the pages not yet read. As I enter the final pages, I get excited. The sense of accomplishment rises and grows. I get to the last page, and finish it off. The book may be memorable, or may have been a simple diversion. It may be forgotten by the time I start on a new one, or parts of it may stick with me for years. The experience is always worth it. The sense of accomplishment feels wonderful.

I close the cover; a smile always emerges. Success! I can check one off my “to read” list. Progress! The feeling of finish a book is hard to describe. The end of the story (or not, depending on what kind of book it is) has arrived. I often think about what the characters will do next. How will their lives continue past the last page? Perhaps the ending was good and everyone lives happy ever after. Maybe the story was of sacrifice, and the protagonist saves everyone but dies in the end. Who knows what may transpire.

I get up, and drop off the book into the “completed” pile and I can feel good with knowing that I can check one off my list. As I look over to the book shelf, I realize that I had purchased three or four others, and am hopelessly falling behind in my quest to complete my “to read” pile. I am always losing traction and will never finish the “to read” list. What do I read next? Do I pull one down from my history section, what about my biography of Einstein or Neil Armstrong, or perhaps one of the leadership books I have written by John Wooden? Or do I pull down another story about robots or magical wonders? I cannot deny my robot craving at the moment, so maybe the next one will be another Asimov. The possibilities are endless. Maybe one day I will try out an e-reader, but in the meantime, I got some books yet to read. The glorious struggle continues…

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