I’m not sure if this is enough to plant me squarely in the nerd category, but growing up I was always keen to go to the library once a week at a minimum.
My mother started taking me because it was cheaper and easier than going to the video rental corner of the exchange on base (in case you missed it I was a navy brat), but quickly she realized I tended to be happier at the library.
This might have been partly because reading came early and easily for me, but also because early on I discovered books about mythology. I am pretty sure the Greeks came first, then I discovered Egyptian mythology, and rounding out my younger years were the late comers of Norse mythology (somewhat ironic given my ancestry, but I digress).
Of course my first exposure was to the sanitized or at least discreet annals geared towards younger readers, but even in these desperate attempts at polishing the rough edges of ancient gods and heroes there was more than enough grit to cut my teeth on.
And good thing too, because I’d need them to chew through books like I did. I was typically allowed three or four books at a time, and invariably I’d read through them a few times before we finally got back to the library so I could snatch up more.
Indeed, reading books about mythology is what largely sparked my interest in growth in other subjects.
After all when you are knee deep in the Trojan War you can’t help wanting to know about these places where the great Greek kings and heroes came from. Where is Athens? What was Sparta like? These sorts of questions sent me off chasing down history and geography books to add to my pile at checkout time.
Learning of the ancient Egyptians myriad of animal headed gods, some of them creatures I’d never heard of or was very unfamiliar with, meant soon I was chasing down texts to learn more about animals and ecosystems around the world… though to be fair this may have been more of a returning to a first love as I’ve always found animals fascinating.
As evidence I would present the fact that at the tender age of four I was precociously finding ways to tell every adult I knew I wanted to be a herpetologist. Regardless, mythology drove me back to the shelves for another tome or two I would have to beg my mother to let me take home (though in fairness I can’t remember a time when she ever said no).
Even the sagas of the North told me of poetry and verse that drove my curious mind toward the likes of Wordsworth, Shakespeare, and Milton. I might have been the only fourth grader dragging the complete works of the Bard to school for silent reading time, and I might have only understood a tenth of what I was reading, if that, but I was driven by an almost primal love of the rhythm and grandeur of it that had me reading relentlessly even as so much went over my head.
So much of who and what I am is due to mythology books plundered from naval base libraries (and the patience and persistence of my fantastic mother), and so much of what I love putting into my stories is nods, winks, and all sundry of acknowledgments to those stories which made me.
It might even be worth a look to see how many threads you can spin between my myriad of tales. Might be a fun web to weave if you’ve got nothing better to do.
Until next time, Dear Reader.
Aaron D. Schneider