As a child, I vividly remember the first time I read a book that hooked me to reading like a moth to flame. I was but 10 years old when I happened across a copy of Stephen King's "Carrie" at a relative's home during an overnight stay.
I will be honest and say that I started reading it because I was bored and had nothing else to do - reading the book was sort of a last resort to me, at the time.
My young mind was not quite able to grasp some points of the novel, particularly when King would begin his flashback (or forward) segments in which scientific and medical terminology was used in makeshift magazine articles.
What I was able to grasp was the plot and circumstance of the story. At its core, "Carrie" is about someone who never really felt a sense of belonging. Sure, she had her own faith and her mother, but you couldn't really call them a solid foundation for seeking social acceptance.
In some way, I related to the character of Carrie White for that reason. Growing up with a single mother, and under some of the conditions we lived in, it was hard for me to feel a sense of place in the world. For me, reading opened up a whole new way to release my feelings and see the world.
To this day, I am still an avid King reader, as well as other authors. I have gone through the great tomes written by the masterful J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, as well as its predecessor, "The Hobbit." I have even traveled alongside Robert Langdon in his quest for the Holy Grail in Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code."
Not too long ago, I, along with millions of others, finished my tenure at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with J.K. Rowling's final installment in the "Harry Potter" series.
(Here's a tip - ignore the movies of the fine novels I have mentioned and read the books. There's a world of difference in those pages than what you will see on a screen.)
Currently, I am in the midst of following Roland Deschain of Gilead in his quest for the Dark Tower in King's masterful seven-part series. Reading had fallen to the wayside for me after I first enrolled into college a few years ago, not to mention the high demand this field puts on a person's time.
Lately, though, the call of the novel has been too loud for me to ignore. So, I made a trip to a local bookstore and silenced my mind's cries - for now.
I think today's youth are so absorbed at other forms of media, be they the Internet, videogames or television, that they (or their parents) forget about the wonders reading can provide.
What is my point in all this? For me, it's sharing my experiences with reading. As a child, books helped me through most of the worst times in my life and eventually led me to develop a love for writing. Thankfully, I now make a living doing just that, only in a much different way than I could have imagined.
For all I know, there are children out there right now who are walking down a similar path I once traveled. Reading could be the one thing that helps them take the right decision when that fork in the road finally pops up in front of them.
To me, when I see cars parked at the new Keach Family Library, or any library for that matter, I feel content knowing that within those walls, someone is journeying into their own quest.
Within the minds of these individuals, ultimately, will come the imagination needed to drive our society forward for centuries to come.
Tim Olmeda is the news editor for the Nueces County Record Star. Readers may contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.