It was a bookstore that sold new and used books and I believe it was called the Niwot Book Emporium.
I was never a good student in school but the one thing I excelled at was reading. When it came to turning pages, I was miles ahead of my classmates, which puzzled my teachers because I was so far behind them in everything else, especially math and grammar. (Remember when they taught grammar in school?)
I would visit that old bookstore as often as I could and I got to know the lady who ran it pretty well (although I no longer remember her name). Eventually she noticed a trend in my reading habits. She would often guide me to books that stretched my interest and reading level. There was one book in particular that she suggested to me that was literally life-changing.
She showed me a paperback copy of Clive Cussler’s “Raise the Titanic.” I had always been interested in the story of the tragic shipwreck and my curiosity was piqued. I took it home and devoured it. The next time I came back, the bookstore lady asked me how I liked it. I loved it! She pointed me to a couple other books Cussler had written. One was called “Iceberg” and the cover showed a ship encased inside of an iceberg.
I flipped the book over and read the back cover. It was another adventure about Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino, my new heroes from “Raise the Titanic”! I voraciously tore into that one and it wasn’t long before I was reading the first book in the series, “The Mediterranean Caper”. As I waited for the next book in the series to come out, my attention turned to novelizations of major motion pictures. I had already read every Star Trek book I could get my hands on and even read some of them twice.
Finally the wait was over and “Vixen 03” came out. It was the last book I bought at the bookstore, as it reached its last chapter and closed. By this time, I was a die-hard fan of Clive Cussler, who has become known as the Grand Master of Adventure. I hated waiting two years between each book, but that was the life of a serial reader.
In my high school and college years it became difficult to do much recreational reading outside of all the books I had to read for class. When it comes to reading, no matter how much of it I do, I have one major problem. I’m slow. I can only read at about the pace as if I were reading out loud. In my early adult years my reading pared down to what I could page through at the gym as I strolled on the treadmill or the stair-stepper.
Eventually my reading habit narrowed down to about four or six books a year. By 2005 I had almost stopped all recreational reading. I had become clinically depressed and not only had I lost interest in reading books, but I found that they quickly put me to sleep. We had moved to Amarillo, and although I wasn’t reading books I soon realized that I was reading even more than ever via articles on the Internet. I was also obsessed with all things Lone Ranger and was staying quite busy publishing a quarterly newsletter about the masked man and his faithful Indian companion.
Another life-changing moment came in the spring of 2008 when I lost my job in Amarillo but was hired as the editor of the newspaper an hour away in Hereford. If you’ve ever spent any time driving in the Texas Panhandle, you will know that radio reception is spotty at best and your choices for music are very limited. That’s when I decided to give audiobooks a try.
The next thing I know, with a two-hour round-trip each day, I was listening to an average of a book about every seven to 10 days. By this time Cussler had his second and third character series going and I had a lot of books to catch up on. I made short order out of those. I also plowed through the Harry Potter books, the Left Behind series and as many Louis L’Amour books as I could find at the local library.
We moved to Rosenberg at the end of 2008 and my new job was still an hour away in Hempstead. For three years I got to continue to listen to books to my heart’s content. I expanded my interests in many directions. I discovered new authors and branched out into different genres. I went from being entertained to being inspired by listening to the works of Zig Ziglar, Dave Ramsey, Tony Robbins, Napoleon Hill, Stephen Covey and more. I listened to biographies, got into history – especially Texas history and the history of NASA. I found new favorite authors in Brad Meltzer and Brad Thor.
The best part, however, has been keeping up with Cussler. He now has five series going with the help of co-authors, including his son, Dirk Cussler. Rather than publishing a book every other year, he now does about four or five a year. He has a few non-fiction books out and a couple of children’s books.
I try to read about two or three printed books a year, but with a daily commute of an hour or more, I still do most of my reading by ear. I’ve discovered several favorite readers (or narrators), including my very favorite Scott Brick, followed in no particular order by January LaVoy, Bronson Pinchot and Armand Schultz.
I guess my purpose in sharing this bibliophilic journey is to make the point that not only is reading good for you and makes you a better person, but that you never know where inspiration will strike. I was a book lover before I walked into that book store in Niwot (otherwise I never would have walked in) but I wouldn’t have branched out into a real world of books had not the kindly bookstore lady gently coaxed me to discover worlds I never dreamed possible.
I just want to take a moment to tell this lady thank you for changing my life. And to Clive Cussler, I want to thank you for giving me a lifetime of adventure. I owe more to those two people than they will ever know.