There are two types of people in the world. People who love to read and those that I believe must have a large, gaping hole in their souls. Bold statement I know but I make it from a place of love. I love to read and books have played, at least in some part, a role in many of my memories.
As a child, I was that weird kid that always had a paperback with him. I would take a small stack with me on vacation and read the entire drive while my brother and sister slept. I would read late into the night if the book was particularly compelling (which most were) and would go to school groggy the next day. I would even sneak books to church and my friend Todd and I would read instead of listening to the sermon.
Now, as a father of four, I am striving to raise lovers of reading, although to varying degrees of success. My oldest has gone through phases where she has read a lot, but not so much now as a 16 year-old. My 13 year-old is not a fan of the physical act of reading but loves audiobooks and audio dramas in podcast form. That brings us to my younger two, 9 and 7, who both are showing signs of loving to read, especially the youngest. She always has stacks of books on her floor and loves to read out loud or to herself.
In thinking about the kids and what might be a good book to recommend to them from the library, I tried to remember some of my favorites from my pre-teen years. This was the period of time that I really took charge of my book and genre selection. I remember spending hours at the library or at the Waldenbooks or B. Dalton Books in the local mall. I would peruse the book covers, looking for something to grab my attention, and then read the summaries on the backs to help me make my selections. I even got book catalogs delivered by mail so I could keep up with what was coming out soon in my genres of choice, science fiction and fantasy. Yes, I was that kid.
Here is a short list of series and books that I loved from that period of time, and these have certainly continued to influence my reading to this day.
- Xanth series by Piers Anthony – Some of my first fantasy that I just couldn’t get enough of. Weird but wonderful.
- Elfquest series by Wendy and Richard Pini) – Sparked a love of comics that has lasted to this day.
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – A lifelong love and I definitely read the Fellowship of the Ring during church.
- Knight Rider and the A-Team – Books based on the shows, not top tier literature but who doesn’t love KITT and Mr. T?
- Mack Bolan/The Executioner series by Don Pendleton – Shoot-em-up pulp stories that I devoured from used bookstores.
- The Epic of Flight by Time-Life Books – These were a large series of coffee table-sized hardbacks that chronicled the history of aviation. I would check them out from the library, one at a time, and read them cover to cover. I loved them so much that I bought them a few years ago and have them on my bookshelf.
- The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury – The first time I read these, I read my dad’s copies that we still had at that time. Classic science fiction which was so ahead of their time.
So many good books there plus so many others. Now I do just about all of my reading in audiobook format since my eyes don’t allow me to read without some serious magnification. But I still love it, maybe even more than I did when I was 12. Maybe.