Today we are interviewing Jack Graham, a reader for indieBRAG!
Jack, what is important about reading to you?
Jack: The great preponderance of what I know I first encountered by reading. Sometimes, reading
would inspire me to “do things” like the Boy Scout handbook, “Handbook for Boys” which after
reading I did everything in it to the best of my ability, (and still do). That mostly kept me out of trouble
throughout my teenage years… other than that incident with the skunk. Then there were all those
textbooks. 20 years of them, through a PhD. And a couple libraries full that I operated at a couple
different K-12 schools as a professional school librarian. No, I didn’t read them all, but I certainly
enjoyed those I read. Most of all, I enjoyed the joy and wonder that appeared on the faces of students
when I found the “right book” for them to read. Of course there are no books more inspiring than
scriptures, no matter what denomination one practices.
Do you enjoy reading for BRAG and what positive experiences have you had?
Jack: Yes, I certainly enjoy reading for BRAG! Or I would not have kept doing it for all these years.
Every book IndieBRAG has sent me to review, even those I gave a “thumbs down”, has been a positive
experience. I learn not only what the author intended me to learn from their content, but also many,
many valuable examples of style and methodology that I will use when I get around to writing my own
great American novel.
Are there topics you would like writers to write more about?
Jack: Historical fiction, especially well researched medieval historical fiction like Helena P. Schrader’s
series about Balian d’Ibelin, and Derek Birks’ Rebel’s and Brother’s series. Their ability to give flesh
and blood to the bare bones of historical accounts is phenomenal and extremely entertaining to me.
What are some of the great bookish gifts you have gotten over the years or have given to others?
Jack: My favorite gift of all time is my well-worn copy of “The Song of Hiawatha” by Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow with Illustrations by Harrison Fisher and decorations by E Stetson Crawford,
(1906 Edition) which was my Grandfather’s. Every time we visited him, I made a beeline to the book
case housing Hiawatha and asked him to read it to me. He gifted it to me when I was able to read
accurately and with feeling from any random selection he picked.
Who or what inspired your love of books.
Jack: Believe it or not, Donald Duck and his Uncle Scrooge McDuck inspired me to start reading.
When I was getting ready to attend kindergarten, it became clear that I would need glasses to see
beyond the end of my nose. In the waiting room of the optometrist’s shop was a large collection of
Disney Comic Books. They had to fight with me to take my nose out of the comic I was reading to get
my eyes examined. When the doctor showed me how much more I could see holding the book away
from my face while using glasses, I was sold on glasses and on comics. With a little help from Mom, I
learned a few key words, basic phonetics decoding, and how to guess words in context from the
pictures and general meaning and expectations of what should happen next in the comic book story. 66
years later, after more pairs of glasses than I can remember, and lasik surgery in Turkey at 57, I still
love a good Donald’s Nephews and Scrooge McDuck comic. Comics, graphic novels, are too books!
How dare you think otherwise!
What are your favorite books you have received at Christmas time?
Jack: From as early as I can remember, probably around five or six years old, right after I got my
glasses, for Christmas my grandparents got me a subscription to Donald Duck comics because I liked
them so much and they encouraged me to read them to my younger brothers and sisters, which I did. So
as I learned to read, I also learned the joy of sharing my reading with others. When I was about 10 and
started reading things like the “Song of Hiawatha” and “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” they added a “Classic
Comics” subscription. So for several years I would read the classic comic version of a great book and
then go get it from the library and read the original. I also remember a subscription to an
autobiographical comic series for which I do not remember the publisher. But it introduced me to the
founding fathers of America and various presidents and other important historical figures. I was always
impressed by these monthly subscriptions because they gave us something new to read every month,
not just at Christmas or birthdays.
Talk about all the reasons why you love reading or writing.
Jack: If I gave all the reasons I love reading and writing, then the resulting article would be many too
many volumes too long and over fill this blog. Therefore, let me address only the main reason.
I love the power of reading written words to create ideas in my mind that someone else thought first,
even when they are not with me. I love the power of words on paper to transmit knowledge throughout
time and space. Through reading, I can know what my forefathers knew. I can avoid their errors and
build on their successes.
I love the power of writing to place my ideas into your head. I can write what I have learned in this
short lifetime for future generations so maybe they can avoid suffering by learning from what I write so
they don’t make the same mistakes that I did. If I can write, in the right way, you will think what I
think. You will read what I write and make my ideas your own. This power to influence others’ thinking
is intoxicating, even addictive. When you have done it successfully, then you will want to do it again,
and again. Perhaps that is why some authors are so prolific.
Favorite places to read.
Jack: My favorite place to read is where ever I happen to be.
Write about the best indie book(s) you have read for the year.
Jack: My favorite indie books this year are the especially well researched medieval historical fiction of
Helena P. Schrader’s series about Balian d’Ibelin and Derek Birks’ “Rebel’s and Brother’s” series. Their
ability to give flesh and blood to the bare bones of historical accounts is phenomenal and extremely
entertaining to me.
Thank you, Jack! It was great to talk with you!
Jack – you brought back great memories and inspired me to write a blog post!
thanks for the memories-
I loved Hiawatha, too. Longfellow is one of my favorite American poets and, having had the chance to teach “A Psalm of Life” several times in my teaching career kept those inspiring thoughts in front of me years after the first time I heard them as a child (recited to me by my mom).
I appreciate readers more every day. I love writing, but a novel is just a sentence fragment without a comprehending reader. Thank you!