Books, Books, Books.
Earlier in this semester I told a story about creating the bookshelf pictured above. Now, it is time for me to tell the story of how I began reading, and what books mean to me. Jump back with me to 2014; I am a senior in high school, and working full time at a restaurant called Vincenzo’s. I purposefully made my senior year as easy as possible, so my school schedule consisted of three classes, each with an hour long break in between. It didn’t take long for me to begin getting bored with my excessive breaks every day, I would do homework for the first few minutes, and then nap for the remainder of the time. Even though naps are wonderful, I quickly realized that I needed to find something else to help pass the time. After dabbling in a few hobbies, like bringing my DS to class and trying to just go home during the breaks, I finally decided to do something I hadn’t done in years, read a book.
I searched my parents’ relatively scant bookshelf to look for something interesting to read. Most of the books were Clive Cussler or Dan Brown, so I nearly gave up, until, at the very bottom of the shelf, I noticed a book called b by Isaac Asimov. I had heard about Foundation before, it is considered by many to be one of the best science fiction novels of all time. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I grabbed the book and went to class.
The moment I opened the book, I was unable to put it down. I actually skipped two of my classes in order to continue sitting on a bench outside of the school and reading. From that moment on, I was hooked on reading. I no longer skipped class, realizing that it would quickly lead me to failing out of high school, but you better believe that I sneakily read during every single one of my classes. Following Foundation I never went outside without a book. I quickly read through nearly all of Isaac Asimov’s bibliography, including the rest of the Foundation trilogy, the Robot trilogy, and The End of Eternity.
Soon after, I decided it was finally time for me to begin branching my book reading outside of just one author. So I took the leap from Science Fiction to Cosmic Horror. I went to Barnes and Nobles, and purchased a twenty dollar collection of all of H. P. Lovecraft’s work.
Simply by looking at the cover of the book (pictured above) it is easy to tell how incredible Lovecraft’s works are. Think of most horror movies or novels that are out today, have you ever said (or thought if you’re not crazy) to the television or book, “Why are you doing that? Nobody in that situation would do that!”? If so, Lovecraft is the author for you, each of his characters makes completely rational decisions, taking into account the fact that none of the characters are placed in scenarios that are rational. His novel Shadow over Innsmouth comes to mind. Many horror films have a scene where a monster (or equivalent) is creeping up outside the door of the main character, and in most of them, the main character cowers wherever they are, instead of actually doing anything helpful. The main character in Shadow over Innsmouth immediately begins brainstorming ways out of the situation. He wedges a chair under the door to delay whatever is attempting to get in, then tries every door and window in the room in an attempt to get out. All the while, he is searching for any form of weapon that could help him against his mysterious foe.
Before I read H. P. Lovecraft in high school, I had always hated horror films and novels and considered them to be pointless; but Lovecraft showed me that I had just been seeing the bad horror. After reading Lovecraft’s collection I began looking for a new author that would interest me in a similar way to him. Not necessarily in a horror fashion, but at the very least tense. Whom I found quickly became my favorite author, as well as the only modern author that I have ever had any interest in. A man named Chuck Palahniuk.
Palahniuk is most known for his novel Fight Club but his best are Rant and Lullaby. It’s story time, as previously stated this all occurred during my senior year of high school. Throughout my whole life, I always ate very quickly. Each meal placed in front of me was almost a challenge to see how fast I could eat it. In the novel Rant, the main characters mother cooks foreign objects (like paper clips or extremely tough nuts) into her food, in order to get people to eat it slower. Her reasoning, was that the slower you ate the food, the better it tasted. For some particular reason, this was incredibly profound to me, and ever since reading that novel I have eaten food as slow as I possibly can, and whether or not it’s placebo, I genuinely feel as though I taste food better. Rant and Lullaby are tied in my mind for the greatest Chuck Palahniuk novel. I don’t want to spoil Lullaby however, but it’s greatest strengths are in the intricate plot, so I will only say that it had enough of an effect on me to make me get a tattoo of the bird on the front cover (pictured below)
Without prattling on any longer, that is the story of how I became a book fiend. When I look back at my life before books, I can’t figure out how I passed the time before I read. Nowadays, I don’t leave the house without a book, my philosophy is that you never know when you’ll get bored, so always have a book on you just in case. All it took for me to find my favorite past time, was to have such an incredibly boring schedule, that I had to find a hobby to pass the time. I have never been so happy to be bored in life.