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May 22, 2010

A Buck and a Half Buys...Treasure!

I got appendicitis one fall when I was fourteen years old, and ended up being fairly immobilized for most of a week. Even then I wasn't much of a fan of television, and we didn't have any videogames, so I found myself quickly being bored out of my skull. My mom -- always more observant than I gave her credit for -- one day brought me home a big box of paperback books she'd bought at a garage sale for a buck and a half.

At first I was leery: what kind of books would my mom pick out? Romances? I didn't want to seem ungrateful, but I wasn't hopeful. As I dug through the books, though, I quickly discovered that my mom had brought me home a treasure-chest.

Most of the books were action or sci-fi books from the "golden age": Doc Savage, Man of Bronze, E. E. Howard's Conan books, the Travis McGee novels by John D. McDonald, and the "robot" novels by Isaac Asimov. But the most wonderful books in the bunch were the old proto-sci-fi books by Edgar Rice Burroughs: the John Carter of Mars books. I read The Princess of Mars and The Gods of Mars that week, and dreamed of Barsoom and lissome alien princesses. I could never go back to my Tarzan books with the same enthusiasm after that.

Asimov's "Robot" books remain my favorites to this day as well: Lije Bailey and R. Daneel Olivaw are two of the classic characters in both sci-fi and detective literature. The box contained Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun; much later, in college, I read The Robots of Dawn.

I thought I was going to be stuck in my room, in pain, watching the minutes and hours creep by. Instead, I spent the entire week adventuring on Barsoom, solving crimes with a sentient robot on a future Earth, and kicking bad-guy ass as Doc Savage, Man of Bronze.

What books got you into reading, Morons?

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posted by Monty at 08:32 AM

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