As an adult, with complete reading autonomy, it can be hard to remember how much your reading choices as a child are shaped by adults.
Think about it: most of us spent 12 of the most formative years of our lives at school, where teachers mostly directed what we should read. Then if you went to college, that’s another four years of your reading life mostly dominated by professors. I never went to grad school, but those I know who did say that when it comes to reading for pleasure, forget about it.
I always had other books that I read in between assignments, but it just felt like there was so little time, and there was always something I had to read hanging over my head.
I still remember the heady feeling I got when I finally graduated and had no one else telling me what to read. It felt sort of like this:
But there are other people who greatly influence your reading life: your parents. My mom used to say she fought for years to get me to read and then would have to fight me to stop reading just so I could come to the dinner table before it got cold.
When I did finally get more time to read to myself, I found myself reading a lot of sci-fi. That’s all because of my dad.
Without my dad, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with science fiction the way I have. He took me to midnight showings of Star Wars when they re-released them in the theater. We watched all of the old school Star Trek films on family movie nights. We talked endlessly about The Matrix. I loved them all, and more importantly, I loved being able to share them with him. This had a huge influence on what I choose to read and watch as an adult.
When it came to books, I remember reading my dad’s old, dog-eared copy of Frank Herbert’s Dune when I was in high school and being enthralled by its otherworldliness and its mysticism. My dad had read not only all of the original Dune novels but all of the sequels and prequels as well. We talked about the world and where he thought the books could go.
There were (are) plenty of things that I liked that my Dad didn’t, and plenty of things he was into that I never got into (coughsportscough). But I am and will always be grateful for the gift of sci-fi. No matter what, we could always bond over science fiction. Even now, though he’s a much more casual fan than I am, we catch up about some of the latest shows, films and books that we think the other one will like.
So on this Father’s Day, I want to take the time to acknowledge what my Dad gifted me, and say I love you, Dad, and thanks for all the science fiction!