Great Libraries Lead to Great Reading

            How many people have a sanctuary in their home that they can call their own? I am a strong advocate for having such a place. For dreamers and thinkers, this refuge is essential for peace of mind. It is a place where creativity can thrive, and the seed of a thought can lead to great things.

In my home, my laptop computer resides on my rolltop desk, surrounded by books of all kinds. Bookshelves line two walls. I don’t read them much anymore, relying upon the Internet to do most of my research nowadays. But they give me comfort. A Kindle or iPad will never substitute for the solid feel of a print book in my hands. The pundits of the publishing world are split about the future; some believe that e-books will fully replace print books, while others believe that the library of the past will never go away. From the nostalgic perspective of the familiar, I will always have my reference books, my favorite fiction works, and the signed copies of great works by great authors.

I will always treasure my signed copy of Caribbean, by James Michener. My novels signed by Ray Bradbury, James Rollins, and Marjorie Stoneman Douglas will never leave my sanctuary.  Neither will those signed by other friends in the writing business, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Kathleen LaMarche, T.J. O’Hara, Ron Paul, and Terry Lewis.  I won’t even rid myself of a hardcover copy of the Pelican Brief that John Grisham refused to sign on a visit to Tallahassee.

My brief moments with Mister Grisham taught me a lot: My thirst for meeting the great author did not trump his purpose for being there. First, he was in town to throw out the first baseball of Florida State’s baseball season, and he was not there to sign my book.  Second, he and I are the same height and about the same age, and all he has on me is a head start in the writing of bestsellers.  If he had paused to sign mine, he would have been mobbed in the interest of fairness, and besides, the baseball coach was waiting in the limo to take him to the stadium.   I soothed my hurt feelings by going onto eBay and copying an image of Grisham’s signature and placing it in the book.  Above it, I wrote, “Mark, write that book!”  I Scotch taped it to the side of my desk, and stared at it for years while I was writing my first political thriller, “At Risk of Winning”. Writers need that sort of motivation sometimes.

To say that I have formed an emotional attachment to my library is an understatement.  The feel and the smell of holding a book in your hands is irreplaceable.  I have had a recurring dream, however. In the dream, I am sitting at a table in a bookstore surrounded by my books. It is a book signing, and I am there to sign every copy of my book that is placed in front of me. I look up, and before me is a beautiful young woman holding a Kindle. I take the Kindle from her hands, turn it around, and autograph the cover in black magic marker. I hope that day will never come.


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