Influences and Favorites: Part 1

I’m sure each person is different as to when the really began to enjoy reading. Some people may say they have always enjoyed reading while others revel in the fact that they do not read at all. To the latter group of people I can only stare at them for a brief moment in complete awe at the lack of an attempt to preform something as simple as reading for pleasure. I understand the “I don’t have time” argument to a point, but if you can watch a marathon of drivel from the latest batch of so called reality television, then spending a few hours reading wouldn’t be much more effort. With a wife, three kids, and two dogs trust me, I understand not having time. Thankfully there is the wonderful world of Audible. I’m often confused to say I have read a book when in reality I listened. I still try to read. There is no substitute for the authors voice coming through the pages, the idea of what a character looks, or sounds like, and the cadence they take while absorbing the words. This is something audio books lack to a certain extent.

Unlike other people I have known, the enjoyment of reading came in high school. Any assignments in reading were viewed with exasperation, and reading for fun was not a concept I fully understood. My mother enjoyed reading. She was a big fan of Dean Koontz, Tony Hillerman, and Stephen King. She enjoyed telling me about the creepy things these objectes called books contained within their covers. I was not swayed. Before the second grade I did enjoy reading, according to my mother. The nuns at the catholic school I attended lived up their stereotype. In addition to knuckles wacked with rulers, our second grade teacher had a particular talent for turning her index finger into a weapon. If a child was not paying attention, or daydreaming (something I did on a daily basis) they would return to reality with the sharp jabs of her finger into the top of the head. Any aspect of making the learning experience enjoyable was foreign to the sister. Years passed as I struggled through school until my freshman year. Even though I lacked the desire to read more than what was assigned I was praised for my writing capabilities. Sometime during my sophomore year I picked up “Interview with the Vampire,” by Anne Rice. I thought it would be a good gift for my mother with her love of the creepy, and gave it to her. She only read a couple of chapters before putting it down with the intent of picking it up again. I knew there was a movie coming out in the near future, and decided to give it a go. I was sixty pages in and hooked. I devoured the book and set out to find the next in the series. It was not long until I attained a copy of “The Vampire Lestat.” I was a little disappointed that the first books main character was not the narrator of the story, yet did not let that sway my newfound appetite. I ventured in other directions but stuck close to the Rice’s vampire novels. By the time “Memnoch the Devil,” was released, my tastes had broadened but there were no favorites I could find like Anne.

As a senior in high school I signed up for English 4 instead of the easier Business English many of my friends chose. During my Junior year my writing began to shine as my consumption of novels increased. I remember I turned in a rough draft of a short story (non-fiction) and received a 100 for my efforts. The teacher was so impressed she wanted to read it to the class so others could see what type of writing she was looking for. I, being a shy kid asked her not to do so. After going back for the re-write of the story I realized that the teacher had thrown away all concepts of judging the piece based on grammar or sentence structure surrendering to the story itself. Of course I could have been patting myself on the back in my assumptions because I found plenty wrong with the piece. So I edited it, turned it in, and received what I knew I was to get, an A. Senior year English was another story, at least at the beginning of the year.

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