My name is Warren and I am a reader.
It sounds like a confession at a therapeutic group session. My writing group occasionally begins its meeting with each person stating their name and then presenting a one-sentence bio before we start our session. This usually happens when there are new writers in attendance. Non-profit boards often start the first meeting after the election of new members with the members introducing themselves. These introductions are mini confessions that we participate at various points of our lives.
The self descriptive terms at my writing group include: I am a writer, I am a cookie monster, I am lost and where is the bathroom. Once I told the group I am a blogger. We laugh and the newcomers are welcomed and put at ease
But I must confess: I am a reader.
I remember as a child I would read breakfast cereal boxes and food labels. I don’t know what wisdom I learned but I could spout the ingredient list as if it were some great body of knowledge. Now I avoid the list because it tells me how much salt and fat I am consuming. At some point in my early teens my focus changed from food labels to second-hand paperback books.
I was the fortunate recipient of my Uncle Bill’s work. Uncle Bill worked many years as a porter for the NYC subway system. His job was to clean the subway cars at the end of the day. Somehow this unenviable position had two unique perks: he had a rail pass that he used to travel to Chicago and other places and he got to take home unclaimed books. About once a month he would visit us or we would go to his apartment in NYC and then the passing of the books would occur. When he came to us he would bring two shopping bags full of books, one in each hand was all he could carry from the Bronx to New Jersey by train. When we visited him we could bring home four or more bags in my father’s car.
My father and I read whatever was available. My father gravitated to Mysteries and I towards Science Fiction. I was hooked. Later when I was in the army my father would send me monthly packages of books. I would eagerly wait for the shoe box full of used books. I read several of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels while stationed 10,000 miles from home. The books would be devoured almost as fast as the crushed cookies and salamis that would show up.
Often my wife will often call me around lunch time with a question and answer at the same time. “Where are you? The book store!”
I work across the street from Half-Priced Books and a Barnes and Noble. So my answer is almost always, “Yes.” Iris can’t see my smile when I respond to her question-statement. I am a reader, where else would I be?
Used books became part of my mental DNA. Fifty years later I still am partial to the used book stores and gladly accept hand-me-down books from any source. I can afford new books now and I must admit I often pay full price; I own an E-reader and download books at full price but I still enjoy a visit to the used book store. I order out of print books from the library. I feel unfulfilled if I don’t have two or three books waiting to be read. I have two works of fiction ready for my late November vacation, one new book for the E-reader (The Twelve by Justin Cronin – 592 pages in hardback) and the other a paperback (A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines) from the used book store. Both books should carry me through the vacation, but I will probably get one or two more ready for the trip.
I am a reader and I love it.
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