Paper Trails


In honor of the upcoming Star Wars Reads Day, a few random reminiscences on some of my own memorable book experiences:

  • Reading Tom Swift Jr. in the back seat while driving across Nebraska in July on a family vacation

No AC, no Interstates, just heat and dust and the adventures of a young man with cool future technology. My first real introduction to the wonders of science fiction.

  • Exploring the local library

When I was growing up, the library in Lombard, Illinois, was located inside a mansion donated by the original residents, Colonel and Helen Plum. Instead of the long stacks of modern libraries, this one literally had separate rooms—of all different sizes—as well as unexpected nooks and cubbies along the way where the books were shelved. Hunting down fresh reading material was as much a physical exploration as it was a literary one.

  • Slogging through the aftermath of a major snowstorm to the local bookstore in hopes of finding book two of The Lord of the Rings

The bookstore was a solid mile away, the streets were still unsafe for nonessential car traffic, and like a numbskull I didn’t think to call first and see if the bookstore was even open. It wasn’t, and I had to slog back home and wait another couple of weeks to find out what happened to Frodo, Sam, Aragorn, and the others.

  • Lying on my bed reading William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

It was with this book that it was finally driven home to me how fascinating history was, and how real-life plot twists were as interesting and incredible (sometimes even more so) as anything in fiction.

  • And finally, the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to be on the other side of the book, and later to be allowed to add my own modest contributions to the Star Wars saga

Good books don’t just take you to far-off lands, interesting people, and exhilarating adventures. They can also generate real-world memories that will stay with you for a lifetime.

Those memories are there for the making. Go make some.

On Saturday, October 6, Star Wars Reads Day is coming to your galaxy. Join in a celebration of reading and all things Star Wars at over 1,200 bookstores, schools, and libraries nationwide, with giveaways and raffles, and authors and/or costumed characters appearing at select locations. Find an event near you!