• February 18, 2014
  • 7

The Gift Of Reading

As a very young boy I remember my mother reading comic books to me. At the time my flavor was Tarzan Lord of the Jungle and John Carter Warlord of Mars. Years later, I would climb onto the roof of our house with a stack of comics. There I’d spend the afternoon reading the adventures of Travis Morgan The Warlord, Arak Son of Thunder, Conan The Barbarian, and various super hero types.

My mother really didn’t mind what I read; for a while I was a fan of MAD Magazine. I remember a friend of my mother’s remarking she didn’t want her children reading MAD. Not sure what that was about but my mother replied she didn’t really care what I was reading as long as I was reading something.

For a period of time my parents also made me read to them. Every night I read aloud from Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. At the time I considered this a bit of a bother, but in hindsight I figure this may have laid the foundation for my ability to speak articulately in public.

My parents were big readers. My mother always had a book in her hands if she wasn’t reading to me. I recall my dad reading Louis L’Amour almost exclusively. He only ever attended a few years of school as a kid. He had actually taught himself how to read from Marine Corps training manuals.  Suffice it to say he was particularly adamant I learn to read and spell as a kid.

One day I remember putting down a comic book I had and asked my parents if I could pick out a real book to read for myself. In my memory my parents reaction was along the lines of: “Heeeeeell yes!”

So we went to a bookstore where I selected my first book. This was of course:

Later I would get into Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom series, Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone, and other sword and sorcery/ science fictiony type tales.

As a young infantry Marine I’d bring books to the field. Inevitably we’d end up waiting around for hours for trucks, planes, or some kind of aircraft to take us somewhere. I got into the habit of packing a book in my deuce gear. Soon my buddies were asking if I had an extra book they could take with them to the field. After a while nearly the whole platoon was taking books to the bush and swapping them with each other.

What I’m really saying is this is all my mom’s fault. She exposed me to all this swashbuckling stuff at an early age. So stay tuned for more tales of high adventure, gun slinging, and the forces of evil being held at bay by the light of my drawn sword.

Semper Fidelis!
America’s SgtMaj

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  1. Sounds like my childhood reading list. When I was about ten I got into my grandfather’s complete collection of Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. He was a WWI marine, married a Washington Navy Yard donut dolly in the early 1920’s – a fine influence on a kid in the 1950s. In the early 1960s I spent a year of after school hours at the armory where my dad was a full time National Guardsman – so I read all the unclassified field and tech manuals. Talk about reading giving a kid a good head start.
    My dad swore by Louis L’Amoure too; I never got hooked on ’em.

  2. Elric of Melniboné! FTW!
    I’m pretty sure we read the same stuff. My mom was a reader and later an author and owned part of a publishing company.
    I may have to look for Elric on Audiobooks, I’d love to go through that again.
    Thanks for the memories.

  3. Zail, I never picked up a L’amour book until I was an adult. Not grand literature but a good western adventure.

    Eric, in high school I had a small feud with the Elric lovers. They claimed Elric could kick Conan’s ass. I still contend Conan pretty much spent the entire Hyperborian Age kicking wizards asses.

  4. Heh.

    Much the same, all ’round.

    My paternal grand dad also intruduced me to a concept that I still play with from time to time.

    His reading pattern was to read one chapter each from a western, romance, science fiction and a classic type novel at a time in turn. Then he’d blend it all together in his head into a unique storyline.

    A note of warning to moms out there.

    As a youngster, about age 12 or so, I did stumble into the Tarnsman of Gor series. I honestly thought they were another line of books like the Conan adventures.

    Of course, after I got deep enough into the first novel to get an idea of how they were different, I was careful to keep those for reading in secluded areas.

    – Grimmy

  5. Your Mom gave you a wonderful gift. I’m usually cycling through five or six books at any one time. My daughter likes to read. My son dislikes reading and nothing seems to change that sad reality. Certainly the horrible books he’s forced to read in high school English don’t help.

  6. I always had a couple of books in my pack L. L’Amoure was just thinking about lately. thought i should start rereading them. currently reading . Leaders Eat Last, L. Sinek. and N. Johnson, Negroes and the Gun; The Black Tradition of Arms.
    When in the Boonies would trade with Docs if done with mine and they with theirs.


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