It's a strange thing for me typing this out with no final plan. Even titling this came as simple words without any forethought. But that's the way things sometimes have to start.
The earliest "adult" book I can remember reading made a parental figure choke on an ice-cube. Mocking me for spending hours alone in my room thought to be just watching TV or listening to music. A breaking point had come and I pulled a paperback copy of King Lear from my backpack. That I was reading was not the shock. That I was reading Shakespeare was.
I can truly say I did not have many friends. I was an only child. I was a loner. Quiet. Creative. Weird. And smart although I refuse to let that little bit slip out. All the while as the years passed, I read. Everything. I consumed books. The regular curriculum of junior high came and I continued to read my own library selections of mythology, space travel, Atlantis, and all the fiction that was popular at the time along side of the required Watership Down, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Cay, and Lord of the Flies. Decades later I still recall them all.
Then came a year in senior high that a small class was made available where we read a variety of books that were not district standard. Jurassic Park was the first book of the class which had also just been released in the theater. We had to swear not to see the movie until we had finished reading the book. I read the entire book that week and was subsequently written up for not limiting my reading to the assigned class discussion chapters. That book was followed by Mary Stewart's The Crystal Cave. I didn't read ahead.
To balance my solitary literary consumption I took a speech class at the same time. To this day, again being decades later, I can still recite poetry works of Edgar Allan Poe that I had selected to memorize for that class.
The Crystal Cave finally came to a close in the literary class and the next author was named. I didn't know how much of an impact this book... this thin collection of less than 200 pages was going to have on the rest of my life. It was then I was introduced to the worlds of Ray Bradbury. More specifically a 1992 paperback edition of The Martian Chronicles.
I honestly could not tell you what it was about this book that filled a hole I didn't know existed. I read the book over a weekend. Then I read it 4 more times before classes ended.
It didn't matter at the time that the first publication was nearly 50 years prior to my discovery. Although that fact did play in to my future choices. I bought copy after copy as I found them. Hard and softbound, each of a different publisher, publication date, and cover design. When the power would go out, I would grab my worn 1966 copy, sit outside, and read. It became my go-to when I needed to step away from things beyond my control and just exist. Then some publishing house decided to "update" a few now socially-questionable chapters and titles. I never bought another edition.
Slinking ahead a bit in time, it was over a year I didn't read a single book. A long time of personal trials and difficulties. My focus had been draw to other things. Not realizing this until I had been killing time and walked in to a used book store. The air of ancient trees and press ink instantly brought me back and the flood gates reopened.
I know pirates histories and biological weapon patterns. I know pieces of dead languages and zombie apocalypse survival needs. I've learned about earth sciences and the bicameral mind. I found my religion. How things are made. How things are destroyed. I can see outside the box and both sides of the coin. Discovered fan-fiction and read 14th century porn. Criticized movies for ruining books. Learned the primer for speaking house cat. And I've traveled to meet authors and have them sign first editions.
As humans have an afterlife, I seek out books published more than a century ago and rescue them from dark dusty shelves, letting them breath in the open air again. I've found an endless love in pages because the older they are, the more cosmic stardust they've touched.
Still mostly a loner. Still quietly perched watching the room. Creative. Weird. And still smart although I let that little bit slip out more than I used to.