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December 22, 2014

Michael Spradlin on the Lasting Gift of Books

Posted by Rebecca M

New York Times bestselling author Michael Spradlin is a master of adventure stories, with fan-favorites that include the Killer Species series and the Youngest Templar trilogy. His upcoming middle-grade novel, INTO THE KILLING SEAS, is about two boys who stow away on the U.S.S. Indianapolis during World War II, and will be in stores July 2015. Though his talent is clearly far from ordinary, Michael maintains that he had a mostly normal childhood, full of G.I. Joes and Matchbox cars. Still, his mother's love of books made an impact early on --- with a little help from Santa. 

I was lucky. In addition to all the other things she gave me every day, like unconditional love, support, encouragement and a moral compass, my mother also passed on something perhaps just as important as all of those things. She gave me her love of books and reading. Some of my earliest memories are of my mother and sisters reading to me. I think it’s the best gift she’s ever given me.

My mother was a child of the Depression and on top of that suffered from extremely poor vision. My grandparents scratched out a living as farmers, but as soon as she could scrape together the money, my grandmother found an eye doctor to outfit my mother and aunt with glasses. Though her vision was still poor, my mother could now read, and she began reading and never stopped. Today, at age 84, she still reads every day.

I had a far easier childhood than my mother. I was fortunate enough to grow up in the burgeoning post-War World II prosperity. We weren’t rich by any means, but I never went to bed hungry and always had a roof over my head. I never had to endure the hardships that my parents did. And in other homes, where books might be considered a luxury, in our house they were a necessity.

And it was at Christmas time where my mother’s love of books and reading really shined. Of course, when it came to Christmas, I always asked Santa Claus for all the normal things that boys of my era wanted. An Al Kaline model baseball glove. A talking G.I. Joe. Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. And each Christmas there was usually one of those things under the tree.


Just as inevitably, when the euphoria of my new G.I. Joe or baseball glove subsided, I would turn to the books. I soon found the euphoria of the books lasted far longer than the toys. And now I remember the books far more readily than I recall the toys. Except for the talking G.I. Joe. That was pretty awesome.

Now books have become part of the annual gift-giving tradition in my own family. As my own children grew up, mixed among their gifts each Christmas there was always a book or two. Both of them love to read. And buying books for them is easily my favorite part of the holidays. Just knowing that they have them makes me feel better.

Thanks mom. And Merry Christmas.