Thursday, June 16, 2011

Eat Any Good Books Lately?


There’s a line from the first or second season of Star Trek: the Next Generation (TNG) that I’ve always liked.  My favorite TNG and later (Deep Space 9 and Voyager – Enterprise doesn’t count as Star Trek as far as I’m concerned) series bad guy is hands down ‘Q’, played brilliantly by John DeLancy.  During one of his frequent appearances on Captain Picard’s bridge, Q asks Mr. Worf, the Klingon Chief of Security played by Michael Dorn, “Worf – eat any good books lately?”
In a sense, I am once again eating, or devouring, if you prefer, books.  In the last couple of weeks I have read and reviewed four  books.  That may not seem to be a big deal to anyone but me, but it IS a big deal to me.
Give me a moment to ‘splain it to you.
I started reading at the tender age of five, mostly because I had to wait until I was six to start school, mostly due to an error in timing.  My error.  I was born at 10:14 am January first – exactly ten hours and fifteen minutes after the cut-off date and time to start school for my district.  My mother taught me to read.  Mostly I think she did it as a matter of self preservation and survival.  She had three boys under the age of six at home at the same time.  I was old enough for her to teach my letters, and it just sort of took off.  By time I hit first grade, I was reading at a fifth grade level.
When I was twelve and entering sixth grade, I was reading at high school level.  I had to get written permission from my Mother for the Miami Dade County Public Library to allow me to check out books from the ‘adult’ section.
No, not that kind of ‘adult’ books.  This was the good stuff.  Stevenson, Stoker, Hugo, Melville, Shelley.  The scary stuff before Stephen King, Peter Straub, Ann Rice and Dean Koontz, and none of that wussy R.L. Stine stuff either.  I entered their summer reading gig and read sixty ‘real’ books that summer.
I’ve never really looked back.  At one point my personal library included nearly 5,000 volumes, both technical materials from cramming eight years of college into twelve, and ‘recreational’ reading.
Then a terrible thing happened to me.  I had a stroke.  Two of them.  Suddenly, the part of me that could devour Gone With the Wind, Moby Dick, Les Miserables, or The Stand in one sitting couldn’t concentrate completely enough to finish a golden book in a week.  John Grisham, Jack Higgens, Jeffrey Deaver, Michael Creighton, Jean Auel and J. K. Rowlings took weeks instead of hours…if I could even concentrate long enough to finish them.
That first stroke was almost seven years ago.  It will be seven years on July 20th; my wife’s birthday.  The second one will be three years, two months this coming Monday, June 20th.  Seven years struggling to read a good book.  Oh, it could have been much worse.  I know that, but I did lose some things I loved.  Thankfully, this one is making a strong comeback.  Over fifteen hundred pages in two weeks.  It’s still slow for me – that used to be a two day read, but it’s getting better, and by the grace and good will of God, I’m still here to whine about it, so maybe it’s not so bad after all.
So many good books – so little time.  But, writers beware.  I’m back, and I’m hungry!
So – devour any good books lately?
Yup!  And more to come.
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