The Book That Starts It All
While writing a guest post for Between the Lines, a great blog by writer Sherry Rentschler, aka @poetphoenix on Twitter, I was looking back on when books finally caught my attention. For me, it was during Algebra class in ninth grade when a friend handed me Lord Foul’s Bane by Stephen R. Donaldson. At first, it was merely a vehicle to help me escape having to learn something I was positive I was never going to need. However, as I hid the book inside my textbook, Mr. Donaldson’s characters gripped me and I couldn’t put in down. It became more than a distraction. It was total infatuation with the genre and his characters. Within a couple of weeks I had read all six books in the series and was hungering for more.
Since the adventures of Thomas Covenant, White Gold Wielder and Leper sparked my imagination, I have been an avid reader who would rather enjoy the characters on the page than the people in the real world at times. From that moment on, there has always been a novel within reach wherever I could be found.
That’s usually how it happens, especially for those who before hated the thought of reading. Char was that way. When we met she avoided books at all costs. If she had to do a book report, she’d pray it had been turned into a movie, so she could watch it, instead. If that didn’t work, then Cliff Notes became her best friend, and her opening line would then read, “This book obviously wasn’t a good read because it was never turned into a movie.”
Our first year of marriage I took on the task of trying to change her mind about literature. I picked out Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti and we would spend a little time each evening reading a chapter. I suppose I wasn’t reading fast enough because by the time I came home from work on the third evening, Char had finished the book and wanted to go purchase the sequel. It was from that moment she became hooked on reading and we began fighting for shelf space.
As our children entered the world, I strived to make readers out of all of them. Nathan and Chris went willingly, one thanks to the books of Brian Jacques and the other with ghost stories and R.L. Stines. However, Zac was my challenge. He has always been my more physically rambunctious child. While the others were quite content getting lost in a book, Zac only saw them as props to build a skateboard ramp. I tried everything. We bought him books on surfing or skateboarding, whatever activity he was into at the time. Nothing worked. He would read articles, but anything longer than a two-page spread forget it. Finally, I just surrendered and stopped making suggestions.
A few months ago, Zac sat down and said, “I have a book I want you to read.”
I just stared at him.
“What? You read a book? A whole book?”
He laughed. “Yeah, I’m surprised, too. This book is great, though, and I think you’ll enjoy it.” He then handed me a copy of To Tame a Land by Louis L’Amour. My first thought was that his grandmother would be proud as it was her favorite author. Zac has been reading ever since he handed me that book and to me that is greater than all As on a report card.
When people tell me that they just aren’t readers, my reply is that they just haven’t found the right book, yet. Everyone has one. They just have to keep trying. For me, it was Lord Foul’s Bane. What was it for you? If you haven’t found it yet, I’d be happy to offer some great suggestions, such as Reaping the Harvest. Sorry, couldn’t resist the plug.
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