Calhoun Times

Lost in the pages

- Coleen Brooks is a longtime resident of Gordon County who previously wrote for the Calhoun Times as a columnist. She retired as the director and lead instructor for the Georgia Northweste­rn Technical College Adult Education Department in 2013. She can be

As some of you have learned from my columns, I moved around a lot in my childhood having a father in the Air Force.

No matter where we lived, the first place my mother looked for was the library. She taught my siblings and me the love of books at a very early age. I remember her reading to us, and she was good at it. She’d become the characters with lots of expression.

Sometimes, she’d scare us to death and other times, she’d make us laugh like hyenas. I could hardly wait to learn how to read. The first library I can remember Mom taking us to was in New York City. It was in Midtown Manhattan. The air had an aroma of richly oiled wood and thousands of books nestled on shelves. I was in the first grade and would spend hours going over big picture books and wanting to know words. I was in book heaven.

The first book I remember read- ing and re-reading was titled “Starship on Saddle Mountain” about aliens who abduct a young man on horseback. Here’s the thing: I don’t remember a lot of it, but I do remember that it ended well. The aliens weren’t mean-spirited creatures. A few years ago, I searched for this book. It was published in 1955 and is now out of print. It’s a rare book and expensive, but it can be read as an e-book. When I saw the cover, I immediatel­y remembered it.

Other books of my childhood that have stuck in my memory are every one of the Bobbsey Twin books and later the Trixie Belden books. I never cared for Nancy Drew books.

They were so popular, but boring to me. I liked books with animals like The Black Stallion Picture Book by Walter Farley which I just pulled off my shelf and looked over it. What a wonderful story.

I took “Old Bones the Wonder Horse” off my shelf and opened it to find the names of twin girls who were my friends when we lived in Louisiana, Carol and Nancy Wilson.

They had given me the book as a gift. It was written by Mildred Mastin Pace and I dare say it isn’t in print either. It was a Weekly Reader Children’s Book Club book published in 1956. It’s the true story of one of the greatest race horses of all time, Exterminat­or. I need to read it again and brush up on the story.

When I came into my teens, my taste in books changed, but not totally. I started liking meatier books, some controvers­ial. One that has stuck with me to this day is “1984” by George Orwell. I was 15 when I read it and was blown away by it. It was published in 1949 and quite prophetic. I became enthralled with these futuristic novels not only by Orwell, but Aldous Huxley, Ray Bradberry, and Jules Verne. I still love these types of books.

As I have gotten older, my tastes in reading have continued to progress or regress as some might think. No, I have not always been a fan of what some call “the classics.” I found many of them to be boring. In truth, I was pulling for the whale in “Moby Dick.” Strangely enough, I loved Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea.” I felt so sorry for the old fisherman and even for the giant marlin he caught. I love Hemingway’s books, but oh goodness, they were so sad.

As I earlier stated, I like really meaty books, thick with lots of words. James Michener comes to mind. I’ve read just about all of his books. Starting out from ancient times, he brings the reader into the now. My husband gave me Michener’s “Centennial” as a birthday gift. I couldn’t put it down. I must admit, my family was neglected. Meals didn’t get prepared. Diapers didn’t get changed, and pets didn’t get fed. I finished it in three days much to the relief of my husband. He learned a lesson about me.

I’ve become lost in Steinbeck and Michener, but Stephen King wrote my favorite book of all time — “The Stand” back in the 70s. If I don’t have a book to read, I’ll always re-read this book. Everyday human beings triumphing over major adversity is a favorite story line of mine.

I’ve read Karen Moning’s “Fever” series and make no apologies. I’ve read all eight of Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series and am reading Nora Roberts “Chronicles of The One.” I wasn’t a Roberts fan, but I am now.

I love to read. I love to jump into the pages and get lost.

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