Books are sort of awesome.
I only say sort of because some of them give you papercuts when you manhandle them with your sausage-like fingers. Other than that, books are just fantastic things. It isnâ€™t uncommon for the crew of Fandible to pass around a book with the promise that itâ€™ll be an epic adventure – most of the time, our suggestions are solid. Just this week, Jesus slapped The Martian by Andy Weir into my hands and commanded I read it (You may recognize it from last monthâ€™s Fandible picks post). I told him that I already had a stack of books waiting for me to devour. I also told him that hard science wasnâ€™t really my cup of tea. Yet, with a promise to not kill Byron for another Unhallowed adventure, I decided to give it a shot. I told him Iâ€™d read the first few chapters:
And I finished it within a day.
So, just as you might guess, The Martian is, in the words of a great man, SHWAY! And it got me thinking about books in general and how crazy they are. Most of us grew up with televisions and game systems, yet we are still perfectly content (hell, I prefer it!) to sit down and actually use our imaginations to envision what is happening in our heads by simply following a written prompt in front of us. Now, I know itâ€™s a bit cliche to talk about the â€˜joy of readingâ€™ to a community that pretty much relies on it – I have yet to hear of an audiobook of Dungeons and Dragons, 5th Edition (read by Sir Ben Kingsley) – but seriously! Reading is dope!
When I was little, I didnâ€™t do so well with reading. Or math. Or speaking. Okay, I had problems pretty much all around. And since I grew up with the hillfolk of Ohio, my school actually didnâ€™t realize it until a substitute teacher in third grade figured me out. She called me to her desk, asked me to read a sentence softly so no one else would know, and I just stared down at the jumble of letters. I was so scared I had finally been figured out! And then… it all just clicked! I read the sentence, sounded out the words, and the substitute let out a sigh of relief that she had been wrong (thatâ€™s right – I started out young disappointing ladies).
I cut my teeth then on the classics – Goosebumps by RL Stine. And then I moved up to things more adult… Fear Street. Soon enough, I had bookcases installed in my room and under my bed wasnâ€™t filled with bottles full of urine; it was filled with books and bottles full of urine! I read my way through horror and then found my love for sci-fi and aliens through the epic collection known as Animorphs (which is an amazing series, btw!). And after that, I launched onto crazier books. I had a brief affair with Â Michael Crichton, got down and nasty with Stephan King, and then decided to keep it nice and cozy with my main squeeze known as Timothy Zahn.
When I hit high school, reading became a big pastime for me. And it was in high school that I discovered the next level of it all: roleplaying games. I loved the idea of reading giant tomes of lore and monsters (but not the rules – Iâ€™m part of the Fandible crew, after all. We know dick about rules) and I had a blast then being part of the story by actually taking part in roleplaying sessions. I got to act, I got to read, and I got to learn a lot about what interested me.
Reading does that for people. Roleplaying does that too. And maybe thatâ€™s the entire point of this cliche post. Reading allowed me to look beyond what was around me in Ohio. It allowed me to think beyond what I was experiencing in my life. It taught me the wonders of adventuring, the horrors of monsters, and even the everyday trials such as sexism, homophobia, and racism. Reading has given me over a hundred different lifetimes to experience from the comfort of my home, and roleplaying games have given me a much desired outlet for those experiences.
So, I guess what Iâ€™m trying to say is that reading has shaped me more than almost any one person on this planet. I appreciate that. I enjoy it. I cherish it. Itâ€™s why Iâ€™m working with books in the real world.
Iâ€™m preaching to the choir, I know. So, Iâ€™m not going to end this post with â€˜read a book!â€™ cause I figure that is like telling Barsher that he should barsh. Youâ€™re most likely already doing it! But I do want to hear about your favorite book. Or maybe you can tell me about how a book changed you in an important way. Or maybe you just want to talk about whatâ€™s on your nightstand right now or in your purse (or European Carriers). Write in the comment section down below.
Iâ€™d love to read it.
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3 comments on “Words on a Page”
I tend to read several things at once unfortunately. Currently I’m reading Mona Lisa Override as well as all the shadowrun rule books, and also a book about the causes of the First World War and how we ended up having it without really wanting it!
The Difference Engine was probably one of the books that affected me the most as it got me into Steampunk! Which has resulted in my own setting, and an excellent Victoriana campaign.
Another would be “the diamond age” mostly because the idea of creating an intelligent agent to educate someone is absolutely in my wheelhouse. Even better, someone DID it, dumping a load of programmed tablets in an Ethiopian village, and within a month the kids there were reprogramming them!
I’m really stuck on favourite book though… I have so many books!
My only issue with reading is, I read so fast so it costs a bomb!
I’ve started reading the Lucifer comic. I have to say it really takes me back to high school when I read through Sandman and Neil Gaiman was my lord and Savior.
I’ve also listened to the Dresden Files (When I had more time to listen then read). Finding out James Marsters played the voice of a Wizard detective was almost as great a find as the David Tennant read Doctor Who audio book written by Dan Abnett.
However I think what really got me into reading were the old Magic the Gathering books. The Brother’s War is still one of my favorite books of all time and the ongoing stories which stemmed from that one book. Dominaria, Urza Planeswalker, and god damned Phyrexia were my childhood and I’ll never give my collection up.
Ones that I remember altering my view of things early on were Devil on My Back (my first dystopian future) and Stranger in a Strange Land. Also Asimov’s robot books.
The Belgariad came around at just the right time for me and Mort sold me on Discworld. Both are part of what my now-wife and I became friends over in out teens.
Dresden renewed my energy in reading for fun, when I went through a slump.
Recently a non-fiction one that was very interesting was The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.
I don’t remember how I heard about roleplaying, but I do know that I saved up my money and bought the AD&D 2 PHB and DMG from our local bookstore and pored over them for years, before finally finding people who were into actually playing it. So, no matter their flaws, they will always be special to me.