A Life of Reading

2016 has eased into 2017, and with it comes contemplation. At least it does for me. I think about my life. The past, the present, and the unknown ahead. I generally have a half-assed set of resolutions, and Reading More is always one of them.

Looking back, I have spent a lot of hours with books in my hands. I’ve spend a lot of hours searching for books. Sometimes online, mostly in stores. Books have been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. Do I have any regrets?

My love and passion for books has eclipsed most other things in my life. Relationships, certainly. I am now, happily, gratefully, with a woman who loves books as much as I do, but that wasn’t always the case. I alienated women and I missed countless chances to go out and possibly meet them in my life. Simply because in so many cases I preferred staying home with a book over going out to socialize.

Then there are the other things I have missed out on.

I’ve done very little traveling. Had I held on to the money I’ve spent on books, God knows I could have traversed the globe.

I don’t really have nice things. A decent car, sure, but I’ve never spent much on furniture or clothes, other than the necessities I’ve needed to get by. Again, I could have lived in physical luxury if it not for my expensive book-buying habits.

A hard truth: The money I have spent on books could have gone a long way toward educating my children.

I have not lived an exciting life, as some I know. No extreme sports, nothing like that. I get my thrills vicariously through reading.

I’ve spent more time thinking about, and planning for, upcoming publications than I have my own future.

My diet has suffered, especially earlier in my life as I ate the cheapest foods so I could afford to buy books.

Money that could have been invested. Saved. It went, well, you know.

Regrets?

Maybe a very few, but not many. Not many at all.

I still get around better than many my age. I turn 56 this year. I try to maintain a youthful outlook, and I am positive that reading plays a part in it. Reading has provided me with comfort, and helped keep anxiety and depression from devouring me. Like most people in this frantic day and age, I’ve grappled with these things. Books provide me with comfort and keep my imagination alive. My books are like cherished old friends. I love them all, and I share them. If you come to my house, and you are a reader, you will leave with books.

And the friends I do have? The readers I know and love? They are the most intelligent, the kindest, most generous individuals I have ever met. Reading has made them wiser, more informed; reading has kept their brains sharp. They are so much more interesting than those who do not care to read.

So, yeah, I’ll be reading as much as I can in 2017, and in every following year. And I don’t regret my life of reading. Not when I think back to the marvels I have beheld. The way reading has helped me face and vanquish my fears. How it has aided me to see more than one side of every situation.

So, read on, brothers and sisters, with no regrets.

Mark Sieber learned to love horror with Universal, Hammer, and AIP movies, a Scholastic edition of Poe’s Eight Tales of Terror, Sir Graves Ghastly PresentsThe Twilight Zone, Shirley Jackson’s The Daemon LoverThe Night Stalker, and a hundred other dark influences. He came into his own in the great horror boom of the 1980’s, reading Charles L. Grant, F. Paul Wilson, Ray Russell, Skipp and Spector, David J. Schow, Stephen King, and countless others. Meanwhile he spent as many hours as possible at drive-in theaters, watching slasher sequels, horror comedies, monster movies, and every other imaginable type of exploitation movie. When the VHS revolution hit, he discovered the joys of Italian and other international horror gems. Trends come and go, but he still enjoys having the living crap scared out of him. He can be reached at horrordrivein@yandex.com, and at www.horrordrive-in.com.

2 thoughts on “A Life of Reading”

  1. Mark!

    I grew up lower middle class in a little town in eastern Nebraska and one of my earliest memories was of going to the library with my mom and sister weekly to pick up a stack of books to read. My teenage reading career started with a missing cover used bookstore edition of The Hobbit, read The Exorcist at 13 over a week’s time, moved over to ERB’s John Carter and Howard’s Conan and then Stephen King.

    I always have an audiobook or book on my tablet and phone going. I’ll be 56 this year as well.

    Brothers in books forever!

    Take care,
    Troy

  2. I teach my students (7th graders, so 12 & 13 years old) that reading over the course of many years nets several desirable results. Lifetime readers have significantly more of each of the following compared to non-readers (all are tested & backed by scientific studies, btw)…
    -intelligence
    -more money
    -life span
    -happiness
    -empathy

    So Mark, despite what you may have “lost”, there is no doubt you have gained a great deal.
    And at 42 (a very good year, if you’re a Douglas Adams fan), I’m right there with you, buddy.
    Read on!
    -Keith

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