For Love of a Good Book by Kenneth Weene

 

dreamstimefree_122041My introduction to books was not innocent—not in the least. I was three and curious. Specifically, I wanted to know where babies came from. My father, not the most comfortable of people, harrumphed, cleared his throat, and told me that he was too busy.

I resolved to get the needed information on my own. My uncle, who was in the Army, had stored his medical books in our attic. I had looked at them and knew those pictures contained the kernels of truth; but the words: what might those words tell me? All I had to do was learn to read. Sufficiently motivated, I easily mastered the task.

The joke, however, was on me. Those wonderful books filled with information were in Latin. Oh, well, at least I had opened the door to new and wonderful worlds.

Finding books worth reading was not easy. I really didn’t care about Dick, Jane, or even Spot. Quickly, I was reading the few adult books our home offered. It was a limited and strange assortment, mostly chosen to fill the bookshelf Dad had found on the street and brought home. Still, they were books and I devoured them. One of the unintended consequences came to light when at five I began attending Sunday school. Being Jewish, I was not expected to know the legends of all the national saints of the European countries, but I did. I particularly loved the saints who had killed dragons. To be honest, the rabbi reminded me a bit of a dragon, and I did have fantasies of slashing him with my great sword. But that is a different story.

Somebody suggested the library. What a wonderful place. One small problem, those darn Dick and Jane quality books. I was five and had read most of the Hardy Boys and had heard of books by people named Twain, Stevenson, Dickens, and London. When would I get to read them?

“Too young. Too young.” The refrain hurt my pride and interfered with my favorite leisure pursuit. Eventually, I talked my way into a grownup card. I was off and running—or at least reading. Unfortunately, I had no idea which books were worth reading and which not. Worse, there was no one to help me. Perhaps one of my English teachers might have helped, but I had been duly warned that if word got out, my precious card would be taken away. So I read a motley array of books; none of which, by the way, providing the information I had originally sought.

Some of those books were great and some were trash. At the time I had my own list of which were which. Now, of course, I have the lists of “great books” and “classics” to tell me what I am supposed to think of them—not that I give a fig about such lists.

What I do care about—what I cared about then and still do—was finding books that did more than entertain me. Keeping a kid occupied is easy. I wanted books that made me think and feel, books that made me expand, made me aware, made me alive. Because I found them—too often buried in the trash, but still there, my love affair with books went on and grew. It still burns today. I try to read at least one book a week as well as lots of other stuff. On a vacation, I can push that number up to one per day. Such is true happiness.

I suppose books have made other members of The Write Room Blog happy as well. For some, perhaps the world of books gave them a sense of safety in a difficult and confusing world. Maybe others were looking for rules and standards, models by which to live their lives. For whatever reason, I guess we all do love books; why else would we write so many of them? And, because we know that visitors to our blog also love books—Why else come here? —we take pleasure in giving some of our books away. Please join us in this celebration of words and writing and enter The Write Room Blog giveaway. May the book you read today give you pleasure for years to come.

Link to The Great Book Giveaway

As one of the founders of The Write Room Blog, Ken Weene takes great pride in the ongoing success of this group and thanks you for visiting today.

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9 thoughts on “For Love of a Good Book by Kenneth Weene

  1. Yves

    My love of books came from my uncle. I was amazed on how he “knew everything.” Mrs. Morency, my Honors English teacher, helped fuel the love also. Like you, it is satisfying to sit, read, immerse, enjoy from the pleasure of reading.

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  2. Clayton Bye Post author

    My grandfather had a large farm and, therefore, had a six stall garage. An open attic ran the full length of this building and was filled with all kinds of wonders for a curious youngster like myself. There was a huge bottle collection, a coffin that my grandfather was known to use on occasion (rather than face the wrath of my grandmother for taking in a few more shots of good, Canadian whiskey than was good for him) and my greatest find–two huge garbage bags full of pulp fiction pocket books from the 1950s and the 1960s. On rainy days, I was known to spend entire afternoons in that attic, rain pattering on the tin roof, reading from my treasure-trove of books. It was here my love affair with science fiction began. It was also the place that saw my desire to become a writer solidify and become more than just a dream. Although the farm has long since been abandoned and the garage has caved in, I can still see the place as if it were yesterday. And I write!

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  3. Salvatore Buttaci

    I have had this recurring dream for many decades now: I am walking along Bergaline Avenue in Hudson County, NJ, where I spent my early teen years. It’s a busy street where locals shop and youngsters like me spent many a Saturday in its bookstores. As I recall and my dreams relate, there were four or five used bookstores along two or three blocks. Were there really? My sister Joan who was my sidekick back then says no way were there that many. Perhaps one. And I still argue with her that her memory is faulty; mine impeccably clear. I know what I am remembering, but do I? Am I? Sometimes I think, I dreamed it all and continue to do so. There is an angel between the good and the bad ones on my shoulder who loves reading so much he feeds me false memories. He urges me in nighttime dreams to give equal timing to each of the four bookstores. He leads me down the sci-fi aisle, the biography, the fiction section with all the genres that captivated me as a boy. The book angel has cast a spell on me, both in dream and reality. A friend once asked me, since I read quite a bit, if I ate those books (a voracious ingester of the written word) or only skimmed the pages. I told him I fed them to my eyes and didn’t even mind the price I’ve paid– poor vision, thick eyeglasses, furrowed eyebrows from squinting. I know what you’re talking about, Ken Weene and all those authors in the Write Room. WE EAT BOOKS! Or something in us, other than our bellies, starve.

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  4. John B. Rosenman

    I hope visitors to this site will be drawn to this book giveaway and will take advantage of it. Here lie riches and magic. And yes, we want to be read, but we also want you, dear readers, to buy our words, the sweat of our souls, because therein lies our validation. Sad, perhaps, but often so true.

    My father introduced me to Pyle’s Men of Iron when I was young, and later I got hooked on Classics Comics. I collected every single one, except Don Quixote, #9, which the Great Author in the Sky decreed I would never obtain. Perhaps the most heavenly smell I ever inhaled was that of books in my elementary school library. Do any of you remember it? Divine ambrosia! Later, when I was ten or so, a boy ten years older introduced me to Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson. I just wish I could read The Martian Chronicles, develop complete Amnesia concerning it, and read it again and again for the very first time.

    I also wish I could read and devour books as quickly as Ken. Like him, I am Jewish, and like him (perhaps?) there is a Christian cast to some of my writing. Turtan, the non-Christian hero in my Inspector of the Cross SF action-Adventure series, is a Christ figure in many ways, largely because of the reading I’ve done. Ken thought of slashing his rabbi, who looked a bit like a dragon, but Turtan actually slays a dragon, though admittedly a virtual one, and he bears the fate of the human race like a cross on his shoulders.

    As with Sal, the book angel cast a spell on me, and I have no desire to be cured. It’s a lifelong addiction. Sadly, it’s a habit that is fading these days, and I hope in some small way, this giveaway helps to bring it back.

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  5. Micki Peluso

    I was a shy child, raised mainly in day care and by babysitters, all of whom were resposible for the abuse, some deliberate and some through unconcern. My mother worked and partied in that order and I didn’t know my father. I grew to like being a loner, because I had found friends that would never leave me, harm me or judge me. Once I found them I was never lonely again. I started with comic books, mostly about superheroes–my alter egos. I went on to reading animal stories, every Black Beauty story, stories about pioneers travlelling west, dog stories, adventures in Africa and Australia, two places I yearned to go, almost as if I had been there in a past life. It’s a thrill to be friends with some writers in this group who have or do live in those fantastic places.

    By Junior High I had read every single book in my school library, panicking until I earned enough baby sitting money to take the bus to the city library—- That was one of the closest things to Heaven that I’ve seen so far.Writing just seemed to follow reading and I gleaned my own skills from all the past great writers of the times. None were genre writers as the term had not been coined then. They wrote literary books, following their own rules, something I strive to do in my own works, much to the dismay of my editors.

    I’ve read hundreds of books throughout my life, perhaps thousands and yet only the great books stay fixed in my memory and they are not formula writing where the names and places change but the story is most often the same tale; many times well told, more often not so much. If I were given a choice of only being able to read books or write books and short stories, it would be a difficult choice–but reading is somethig I cannot do without.

    Fortuneately, the book most prescious to me, the one I promised my child I’d write as she lay dying is done, and I know she’s laughing, crying and loving it on whtever realm that she awaits me. She was a natural wordsmith and could have grown up to be a great writer. For now I’ll continue to write about relationships between people, and animals, searching in my writering for all the mysteries of life . . . and if I’m lucky, I’ll never have to choose between reading and writing.

    Please enjoy the wide array of well written, and diverse boks offered in this giveaway. There’s something for everyone and I can promise that no on reading these books will be disappointed.

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  6. Cynthia B Ainsworthe

    I have always loved books. The written word is one of our precious freedoms. Freedoms should be cherished and protected. A world without books is a world painted in shades of gray without the beautiful colors of emotions through imagination put to paper in words.

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  7. James Secor

    I was raised in a physically abusive family and isolating myself in my room, reading comics and books was safety. They were lifeblood to me. Why my otherwise facilitator mother stood up for me, I do not know. Though I did hear her say once that it would do me no harm and kept me out of trouble (which it didn’t). I had no HS teacher who did anything but ruin lit, making it most boring and meaningless. But by age 16 I’d read all of my mother’s nursing books, being damned for reading the huge birth atlas. A JC prof or two piqued my interest. Somehow, along the way, there was always something that interested me and I read about it. I cannot live without thousands of books about me.

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  8. Monica Brinkman

    Ah the memories of walking miles to the library at least twice a week to get the latest Nancy Drew Mystery book. Books bring imagination and adventure beyond even our wildest dreams. It is something to get lost in and to enjoy the journey.

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  9. Bryan Murphy

    In a world in which fundamentalist terrorists seem determined to prove that the sword is mightier than the pen, both reading and writing have become acts of defiance and expressions of freedom. Even in the heart of Europe.

    Reply

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