The first book I remember reading was in the summer of 2001.
I was 20 years old, and up until that point in my life I’d felt no interest in reading.
You see, I come from a stereotypical West Virginia family, complete with a coal-miner dad and a stay-at-home mom. Apart from a few fleeting moments of academic interests, reading and education weren’t a personal interest and weren’t emphasized at home. Playing sports and having a good time with friends were all that mattered.
But things changed for me that summer. In two really big ways.
I had just met a girl (who is now my wife), and she liked to read. After our first conversation, I felt intimidated. She was intelligent, witty, and always kept up with current events. As for me, I was the proverbial meathead in college. I was playing football, and anything that whiffed of academics repulsed me.
Well, I wanted to see her again but knew I needed something intelligent to talk about the next time I saw her. So, I visited a Waldenbooks store over the weekend, browsed the aisles, and bought a copy of The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
I can’t recall why I picked up this specific book. But knowing who I was back then, I would wager it had something to do with the word war in the title.
After getting home, I sat down and read the book. While I found the writing archaic, clunky, and difficult to understand, my interest in impressing this new girl drove me to read the entire book.
I can’t say our second dinner date at Chili’s in Charleston, WV paved the way for our marriage or that my love for books radically changed after reading The Art of War. But over the next few years, my wife and I did get married and I slowly realized something else… I was reading a lot.