I’ve always been a reader. Some of my earliest memories include books of one sort or another. I’m sure I have my mother to thank for that.
I recall Little Golden Books on a bookshelf when I was perhaps five years old. Dick and Jane were part of my kindergarten or first grade curricula. I was an avid reader and collector of Tom Swift Jr. (my first science fiction), as well as The Hardy Boys.
But it wasn’t until high school that things really took off.
Required reading. Some might cringe at that phrase, as it may bring back bad memories. Not for me. High school required reading opened up doors to worlds I’d never imagined. It’s where my love of science fiction and fantasy took hold, for which I’m truly grateful.
Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke was my introduction to science fiction, and what an introduction it was. In short order I found myself consuming all of Clarke’s work, including the book and movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. (I read it, watched it — in its original Cinerama form — read it again, watched it again, read it again … and still couldn’t wrap my brain around its ending. But it was an awesome film.)
Clarke led to Asimov which led to Heinlein which lead to a lot of hours spent reading as I worked my way through their entire catalogs. The list of authors goes on, but I consider those three the foundation of my sci-fi love.
Then we were assigned The Hobbit and my world expanded once again into realms of fantasy. Naturally The Lord of the Rings soon followed. Dozens of other fantasy authors followed, from Anne McCaffery to Peirs Anthony (who admittedly did double duty as a sci-fi author as well), Patricia McKillip, Terry Brooks, and many more.
Yes, I read all the standard “required reading” as well: The Jungle, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Old Man and the Sea, and others, but it was Fantasy and Sci-Fi that struck a chord, and became my staples.
I have much about my high school years that I would never, ever, want to revisit, but the required reading as part of English class is one that I’d dive back into in a heartbeat.
I’d probably pay more attention this time as well.
Accompanying photo is of my bookshelf. While most of my reading has moved to digital forms, and Kindle specifically, there’s always a pile of old-technology books awaiting my attentions.