Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Reading and Survival

There is a reason I didn't end up pumping gas in Sandy Creek, New York. I have to thank reading for that. From the time I was seven I was knocking off a book a day. But there were limits. Because I've had ADHD ever since I can remember, the books had to be able to take me out of my own life. If I couldn't go somewhere else and experience "suspension of disbelief," then the runaway train that was always rocketing through my body would be in control. A lot of nice people had written me off until I got in the 99th percentile in verbal on my SAT.
Lately, because of my reading, my mind has been living in northern England's Lake district. Of course, just when it was almost too late to matter, I finally got diagnosed with ADHD and received medicine that slowed down that railway train inside my body.
To explain what it had been like most of my life: I had written my doctoral dissertation in Syracuse University's Byrd Library, where I could concentrate for 20 minutes and walk around for 40 minutes looking for people to talk to.
So nowadays I can knock off one or two novels a day, but histories take longer.
When I was UPI reporter in Concord New Hampshire, Ted Sorensen had come up to meet with me and the Associated Press reporter. Sorensen, of course, was famous for writing Pres. John Kennedy's inaugural address where he said "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." He was arrogant and quite sure of himself when he said to us that Bobby Kennedy would not run for the presidency in 1968. I always believed after that that Sorensen had lied to us and was really pissed.

It wasn't until I read in another history that Kennedy had earlier made a deal with Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago that somehow later got abrogated which  allowed RFK to run. If I hadn't taken a lot of time on that particular history, I might still be angry today.

So while I'm enjoying Jon Meacham's great biography of George Bush, I think I need some time with Baldacci or Grisham before I can return to my careful reading of his large tome.

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