Yay! I just found out that I've been accepted to participate in World Book Night. This program started last year in the UK and just this year has been extended to the United States.
In short: on April 23rd, 50,000
The first time I had an essay published, my father said to me, "How great is that!? It's amazing that you're a writer when you could barely read." This story was new to me at the time, but it turns out that in second grade, when everyone else could read, I could not. Needless to say, it was the start of some serious catching up.
Over the years, my reading did improve, but was never quite matched my classmates. I had trouble finding books I enjoyed and once I exhausted my mother's collection of Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries, I was at a loss for what to read. It stayed that way for a long time. Both of my parents and my sister were big readers, and still are. It was very difficult being the only non-reader in the family.
At some point in my early twenties I picked up a copy of It, by Stephen King. I was immediately hooked. (Now I would call it an "ignore your kids and stay up too late" book.) After that I read The Tommyknockers, Pet Sematary, and Needful Things. I was hooked, not just on Stephen King, but on reading as well. Eventually I expanded my reading bookshelf to other authors: Barbara Kingsolver, Isabel Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Laura Esquivel, Dennis Lehane, James Patterson, John Grisham, James Michener, Michael Crichton, and Pete Hamill to name just a few. Now, 20 years later, people ask me what I'm reading and what they should read. It's amazing. My kids love reading too and as a parent, I've worked hard to help them continue to find books they love so they keep reading.
For me, World Book Night is an opportunity to help a non-reader find the right book to become a reader. One of the books from which to choose is The Stand, by Stephen King, which I read and loved. Reading transports me to another place, even if I can only stay awake long enough to be there for a paragraph or two. Everyone should have that opportunity; sometimes it's just a matter of finding the right book.
PS- If I ever get the opportunity, I'd love to thank Mr. King in person. But for now, I'll have to just have to thank him via the cyber world, which is no replacement of the real world, but it's the best I can do. Thank you for sparking my love of reading. I've got 11/22/63 on my bookshelf, just waiting to be read.