If you asked me what was the one thing I enjoyed most during my childhood, my answer would be reading.
Oh, there were lots of other things to enjoy - indoors and out - riding my bike, baseball, football, tennis, monopoly, chess and checkers, cards, movies, radio.
But reading tops the list. Nothing was more fun than lying on the couch in our living room, losing myself in another world. I am talking here of a narrow age spread - say 8 to 13. Before 8, my reading skills limited my scope; After 13 i went to Andover and neither the couch or the free time was available
We lived in New Rochelle, where there was a small library branch on North Avenue. I would be dropped off for an hour to make my selections. What a cornucopia of possibilities! Best of all, THE ROVER BOYS, three lads who went from adventure to adventure. Similar was a series about BASEBALL JOE.
And the thrills of reading Richard Halliburton, who dramatized the history of distant lands; PENROD by Booth Tarkington; mysterious events aboard ship by Howard Pease; a series of young frontiersmen when the nation was also young. A series about two brothers who fought on opposite sides in the Civil War. The historical novels of Kenneth Roberts - RABBLE IN ARMS, NORTHWEST PASSAGE.
I do not think I have ever been so engrossed, so immersed, so carried away to other worlds than I was when reading these books.
I'm still a reader. I mean I always have a book going. But generally, I read for about 10 minutes before going to sleep. And that's it. Mostly I read non fiction - to learn as well as to enjoy. What can I tell you - it's just not the same. Yes, I have enjoyed BOYS IN THE BOAT, THE GLASS CASTLE, UNBROKEN, SEABISCUIT. But it's just not the same.
What made the stories I read as a child so much more exciting than what I read now? Has imagination lost its power because I have to deal with more reality? Is my experience similar to others? I would like to know.
The transport to adventures far from home in time and place I feel is not so common for youngsters today. Not with the iPhone, the iPad, computers and television.
But hey, you can text and look things up.