Thursday 27 Oct 2016

Matt Seinberg

Ever since I can remember, I've loved reading. It didn't matter whether it was a book, magazine or even the side of a cereal box. I have no idea at what age I started to read, but I always found books for children boring.

The first Young Adult books I read were in the Tom Swift series.

The first Young Adult series that I remember reading was "Tom Swift Jr," by various authors. The first series, starring "Tom Swift," was written by Victor Appleton II, which is a pseudonym for James Duncan Lawrence, from 1910-1941; there were forty-one books in this series. The second series, included authors William Dougherty, John Almquist, Richard Sklar, James Duncan Lawrence, Thomas Mulvey, Richard McKenna and Vincent Buranelli. These books published between 1954 and 1971.

I found those books fascinating. I couldn't put them down. Usually, I was able to finish each one in a couple of days, especially if I read them after going to bed under the covers, with a flashlight, until I was too tired.

The other main characters in the books were Tom Swift Sr and his wife, Mary; Bud Barclay, the best friend of Tom Jr, his sister Sandy as well as Phyllis Newton, the steady date of Tom Jr.

I loved those books, and they sparked my interest in science fiction. From there I found authors Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Ben Bova and many others.

Then, in 1968, when I was 10 years old, "Star Trek" first appeared on the NBC television network. Although I didn't understand everything that was going on, I thought the space ships and strange looking aliens were cool.

It was only when I was in high school and “Star Trek” reruns were always on WPIX-TV that I came to fully appreciate and understand the narrative, the story line, of the series.

Then I discovered the books! Author James Blish turned the television episodes into novels. I bought and read every single one of them. I still have all of them. After that, original novels started to come out; I bought them as well.

In fact, I have books from all the “Star Trek” series except "Enterprise." I used to buy books all the time, but I'm so far behind I have no clue where to pick up again.

I like the feel of a book in my hand.

These days my first stop in the library is the Large Print section. This way if I don't want to wear my glasses I can still read the books. With regular print, I must wear my glasses, inside or out.

Obviously, the Large Print section is much smaller than the rest of the library, so I don't always find what I want there. Then I'll move on and hope to get lucky. In the summer, I'll take out four books at a time, since I'll sit outside more and read.

At one time, I thought of getting a Kindle for a lightweight, portable reader. I tried using the Samsung tablet outside, but the sun washed out the screen so nothing was readable.

My fellow Grub Street writer and Facebook friend, Wendy Vega, has an original Kindle that is not holding a charge. I and many other Facebook friends advised her to get a new one. Of course, she missed the sale that was on last week.

Then Amazon came out with the Kindles for use out of doors; these models weren't too expensive. Our local library has an app for readers, such as Kindle. We can download books on loan for two to four weeks and then they simply disappear.

As I said earlier, I like the feel of a book in my hand, and a reader simply doesn't replace that.

Alas, my daughters prefer watching Netflix to a good book.

I've always told my kids that reading is important, and it's a great way to keep a young mind from turning to mush. Melissa got into the “Harry Potter” series that way, and we ended up watching all the movies after that. Now, she'd rather watch Netflix on her phone.

Michelle never got into any series, and will occasionally get a book from the library. She'd rather watch Netflix on her laptop.

Do young people even care about libraries anymore for entertainment? Do they go there only when they need a book for school?

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Read a book. It's good for you.


Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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