Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

February 10, 2014

Winter a perfect time to get lost in a book

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Many people feel that we are currently living through one of television’s golden ages. While I’m not entirely sure that’s true given how many trashy reality shows are on at any given time, I can see the validity in the statement.

What can also be argued is that we are also living through a bit of a renaissance when it comes to the books that have been published in the past 25 years.

Many — if not most of these books — can be found at your local library. At the Lee-Whedon Library in Medina, staff members have wrapped a variety of books in brown paper, labeled them with very short descriptions, and offered them to patrons as “blind dates” for Valentine’s Day or Library Lover’s Month.

The point is that in the cold weather we’ve been experiencing over the past several weeks there is no better time to curl up with a good book. 

In my younger years, reading different stories at night before going to sleep was something I looked forward to on a daily basis. On occasion I would find myself lost in a fantasy world, or wishing that I had lived through the 1950s to witness the legendary power of the boyish Mickey Mantle.

I can remember keeping my light on very late one night to finish a book called “Space Demons.” The story centered around a handful of kids around my age (at the time) who wound up sucked into a video game world. I simply had to keep reading to see if they made it out. (A quick note: Within the past year I finally read the sequel “Skymaze” and, well, let’s just say it fell way short of expectations. Not everything is good, I guess.)

Regarding The Mick, I’d heard stories about him from family members who were Yankee fans, but when I read “My Favorite Summer: 1956” I finally realized just how incredible a player he was. I also remember that was the first book I read that included a couple four-letter words, and I chuckled a little bit at their appearance. Hey, I was young.

In recent years I haven’t been able to read as much as I would like. When I do, the genre I choose varies. For example, I’ve gone the easy route and read “cozy” mysteries because I wanted to be entertained without having to think too hard. I’ve gone the contemporary classic route and read work by Isaac Asimov (”The Gods Themselves” and almost done with “The End of Eternity”) because I’ve always liked science fiction.

Perhaps the most enjoyable books I’ve read recently are the ones I’ve read to and with my kids. Some of them are books I either read or meant to read when I was younger. “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H.” was a book that led to a (rather dark) animated feature. I remembered liking the movie and wanting to read the book. The first time I did was to my kids, who loved it.

One of the most popular book trilogies (and movies) in recent memory has been “The Hunger Games” and its sequels. I enjoyed those stories immensely, and upon doing a quick search to see what else its author had written I found a five-book series called “The Underland Chronicles.” I read them as fast as I could, and then talked them up so much to my son that we wound up buying them. I’ve been steadily reading them to him, and he loves them just as much as I do. We’re taking a break from that to read another of my childhood favorites, “Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher,” but we’ll jump back into it with the third book in the series soon.

Meanwhile, while I have so many literary classics in my personal library, there are way too many that have gone unread for a number of reasons. I realized the other day, though, that some of them are perfect reading material for my kids, and on Friday night my daughter was downright giddy listening to chapter one of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” Of course, she’s seen the animated Disney movie, and I’m pretty sure that’s where the excitement came from, but I was honestly just as thrilled.

We’ll eventually finish that, and then move on to “Peter Pan” and maybe “The Cricket in Times Square” and probably follow that up with something written by Roald Dahl.

With stories like these, I’m slowly rediscovering how much fun it is to curl up with a good book. It’s even more fun when my “dates” are as into the story as I am. 

Howard Balaban's "blind date" from Lee-Whedon Library is "The Looking Glass Wars," a retelling of the Alice tale. So far, it's pretty good. He can be reached at howard.balaban@lockportjournal.com