I recently discovered that since March 2nd is Ted Geisel’s birthday (aka Dr. Suess) it has been designated National Reading Day in his honor. Wonderful idea, in my opinion. Such designation has actually got me to thinking of my own earliest influences when it came to what got me interested in reading and eventually writing, specifically Lee Marvin Point Blank.
I don’t know about the current generation but being a Baby Boomer, I started reading before I even started school thanks to Sunday comic strips, comic books, oversized magazines such as LIFE and LOOK, and, of course, Playboy…I jest…kind of. Actually, the very first full classic I remember reading was one I still enjoy to this day…..

First page of the first full book I remember reading. Illustration by Dave C. Mink.

When my older sister was born in the mid-50s, like many parents, mine had the presence of mind to purchase a multi-volume set of encyclopedias. My two older sisters would use them for homework but I found them to be a wondrous source of simple reading enjoyment for hours on end. The reason had to do with the fact that they were not your ordinary set of encyclopedias broken down by the alphabet. These were unique in the each volume was dedicated to a specific area of interest: My personal favorite? Famous People of All Time, as seen below. Terrific stuff.

The cover of Volume 9 of the 10 volume set of THE NEW WONDER WORLD ENCYCLOPEDIA. I have no idea when or why I slashed and ‘X’ over it. Stupid kid that I was.

The ten different volumes in the set of encyclopedias that enthralled me, number 9 being a personal favorite.


My fascination with individual lives of achievement was enhanced by the likes of the following….

Published in 1960 by read by yours truly about 10 years later.

The first multi-biography I ever read. Never knew it would lead me to eventually write one myself!

I can remember reading these books over and over and over, until the got in the condition shown in these scans. Obviously, I still have these books as they have a sentimental value for me. But there’s more to it than that, as well. With the advent of the digital age, do kids nowadays get the same tactile sensation and feeling great satisfaction in turning the last page and smiling when the closing the book having read it all? Somehow I doubt it.

– Dwayne Epstein

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