Obsessive Reading


I’ve always been an obsessive reader. When I find an author that I enjoy, I read everything I can from that writer. As a kid, I compulsively read the books of Agatha Christie–in particular the Hercule Poirot mysteries. I was actually introduced to those novels through the film adaptations of Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile. They were formula, but I fell in love with using my “little grey cells” (as Poirot would say) in trying to figure out who the murderer was. One aspect I found interesting was the fact that Christie wrote for several decades in the early part of the century (the 20th, in case anyone wondered), and it was something of a history lesson to me as I looked at the copyright date and associated it with the way the characters and culture was portrayed. My favorite book of hers wasn’t even a Poirot mystery, but rather And Then There Were None (also known as Ten Little Indians and another title I won’t mention). That created the template used so often later about a group of people being killed of one by one by an unknown assassin. Yes, Agatha Christie essentially created the slasher genre.

Later, I discovered Piers Anthony, especially his Xanth book, whose puns amused me (as my friends will attest, I have an affinity for puns). I am sad to report that I have long since been able to keep up with that series, but would love to resume at some point. Being quite prolific, Anthony had many other series and individual books that I had to pour through. It’s always a joy to revisit his stories or come across one I hadn’t yet experienced.

Being a science fiction nerd, I naturally gravitated to the Star Trek novels. Initially, only stories based on the original series were published, but once The Next Generation came on the air, books set in that time period appeared on the shelves in stores and soon in my home (where many of them still reside). Eventually, the conflicting continuity and overwhelming number of books released burned me out and I stopped reading the adventures of Captains Kirk and Picard.

My largest obsession arrived on my 17th birthday when I received two Stephen King books as gifts–The Stand and The Talisman, which are still two of my all-time favorite books. I always appreciated King’s stories, known mostly when I was younger through movies such as Carrie, Salem’s Lot, and The Shining. Whenever a new King novel was released, I’d read the cover and be intrigued by the plot descriptions, but did not attempt to read any until my birthday presents. After reading those books, I devoured everything King had written. Even still today, I buy his new releases and am mostly pleased by his imagination.

Other writers have fallen prey to my obsessiveness–Dean Koontz, Orson Scott Card, Caleb Carr, Tad Williams, Peter Straub, Alan Dean Foster, and many more. I love discovering new voices and the worlds they create while immersing myself into their words.