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When I was three or four, my mother had a subscription to two different books clubs for my older brother and me. One was to Gold Key, the other to Disney. Each month we’d get two new books in the mail; one Gold Key, one Disney. We got all the traditional books that you’d expect from a collection like this. We also got many obscure books.
My brother loved the Disney books, I preferred the Gold Key. Until I was a little older. Sure, my mom and step-father read books to both of us, but my brother was able to read on his own and he soon graduated from the kids’ books to comic books.
I remember my favorite Gold Key book was the pokey Little Puppy. I’d flip through the book again and again waiting until my mom or step-dad had time to read it to me. When I was a little older, it was the Disney book, The Magic Grinder. In this book, a dragon gives a magical devices to a poor woman with two little boys. It provides them with anything they needed as long as they said the magic words.
Once I was older and could start checking out books at school, I still remembered the dragon from that book. I read everything I could about giant lizards, and was fascinated by books with dinosaurs. In a year I checked out everything the library had and even though I could read well, I devoured those books. I was good at math, history, or any subject in school really, but ask me about any dinosaur, and I could regurgitate any of the facts I’d read including when and where the fossils were discovered.
I never lost my love of dragons and once I was old enough to start checking out books from the high school section, I graduated from dinosaurs to fantasy and science fiction. Worlds that took me away from my childhood life and into worlds unknown. Places I’d rather be. During that time I probably read two or three books a week. Anything I could get my hands on.
Yes, my grades still suffered, but it wasn't because I didn't understand the subjects in school, but because they held no interest for me. When forced to do homework or study for a test, it was discovered that I could retain almost anything. I went from a D average student, to an A average student with only a little effort.
Still, I preferred reading. Once I moved to live with my father, I still read voraciously. I would check out books from the library three or four at a time and return them all the following week for three or four more. I got an allowance that allowed me to go to the book store and buy books in bulk. I didn’t matter what books I bought, I would read them quickly, usually give them away to friends that wanted to read them, and go buy more.
When I didn't have money for books (growing up and living on your own is a lot more expensive than it seems) I took my collection of books to the used book store and started trading for books I hadn't read. Again I’d be reading one or two books a week. Until my supply of books and money ran out.
There was a drought in my reading period during the mid to late 90s. Years where I didn't read anything. It wasn't until someone put the first five Harry Potter novels into my hands that I rediscovered my love of reading. Those books brought back the magic I’d been missing. Sure, Harry Potter is intended for younger readers, but I could relate to much of what he’d gone through. I spent a lot of time as a kid with a flashlight reading books I had checked out from the library trying to escape from the life I had. Harry wanted to get away to a magical place, and he did. In a way, I had also done that.
I was never hungry as a kid, but I did grow up with an abusive step-father, a difficult time in school, summers spent cutting wood to sell to help feed our family, and terrible winters in Minnesota. Books got me away from all that. They made me feel that there was something else to look forward to in life.
If ever I met a dragon with a magic grinder that could give me anything I needed in abundance, it would fill my life with all the books I could read. I still try to read at least one book a week, but many times life intrudes and that doesn't always happen. I will likely never stop reading, and I’ll always be looking for that special place to escape to.
J.R. Murdock is an avid reader of almost anything he can get his hands on. That being said, he also writes with near reckless abandon in any and every genre. His style is intended for pure entertainment. Over the years he’s written nine novels and over one hundred short stories. Only a few short stories have seen print (in actual print and on the web) so he’s decided to throw his hat into the podcasting arena with his novel V & A Shipping. Since then he has also podcast his novel Billy Barbarian and released his YA novel Astel: Chosen, not to mention the great short stories he's podcast in his Murdockian Tales series. Also V&A Shipping 2 is now available! Find out more at www.jrmurdock.com. When not writing like a mad-man, J.R. Murdock does have a day job as a computer programmer and loves to spend time with his lovely wife and beautiful daughter.
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