Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Living to Read

It is disappointing that Nicholas Basbanes' column in Fine Books & Collections Magazine is not available online. If you can, take a peek at it while visiting your favorite bookstore. It is the May/June issue so don't dally. Why do I encourage you to read it? Because readers, it will make you happy. And if you are in a sappy mood you might even get moist eyes. The article is about a bookish teenager named Kirby Veitch who admits to Basbanes that he sometimes sleeps with his books. A few years ago when he was 15 he was suffering from a form of pleurisy and had to have a couple operations to drain his lungs in order to save his life. It was still touch and go and Veitch had been in so much pain from the previous surgery that he was hesitant to do it again. But then he started reciting "Jabberwocky" and could not remember all of the words. He then told the doctor, "I haven't read all the books I want to read." He agreed to the surgery. While everything was being readied, Veitch's doctor found a computer, looked up "Jabberwocky" and printed off the poem, giving it to Veitch. The boy read it before being prepped for surgery. He said it helped him not think about the possibility of dying. Just so you aren't left wondering, Veitch is 17 now and doing fine. He is a top student and waiting to hear from several colleges. He wants to be an artist and a writer. How much more touching can you get than that? In his latest book, Every Book It's Reader, Basbanes apparently writes about people for whom books have had an impact on their lives (Veitch is not included, Basbanes found out about him while doing a radio call-in show interview promoting his book). Now I'm thinking I have to read this book. Only problem is, where do I fit it in? Just when I thought my books in progress were becoming reasonable, they have burgeoned out of control again. Must learn to read in my sleep.