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April 7th, 2012
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Letters to the President #1174: 'Reading fever'

Reporter's Note: President Obama gets a letter from me every day, even on holiday weekends.

Dear Mr. President,

Have you read The Hunger Games? I don’t know if I have mentioned this to you before. My younger daughter became quite excited about the series a few weeks back and tore through the three books in that series like a wheat thresher. It was amazing. We’d tell her goodnight and send her off to bed, and the next morning she’d be all smiling and red eyed.

“What’s up with you?” my wife would ask. She’d laugh and say, “I stayed up reading until 1:30.” “Oh my heavens! It’s a school night,” my wife would respond. “I know, but it’s soooooo good!”

Nothing could make me happier. When I was a kid, I loved falling in love with a new book; pounding through the pages, hour after hour, devouring every word as I simultaneously rushed toward and dreaded the end.

I used to ride my bicycle three miles into town when I was in junior high to go to the library in the summer. I would check out two or three books, climb back onto my bike and read all the way home as I peddled. We lived in the country and the roads in that part of Illinois are so long and straight this was not much of a trick.

In high school, I had the idea that I would read every book in the school library. A little quick math told me that plan was a shade ambitious, so I changed to a simpler idea: I would ready every single biography. I nearly did. That year I ripped through biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, and anything I could find that even hinted at the story of a person’s life.

I still read a tremendous amount and I always have several books going at once. I’m currently reading "Great Expectations," a book on trail running, one called "Running with the Buffalos," "The Guns of August," and yes... "The Hunger Games." My daughter insisted.

So far, it’s pretty good fun, and it is something she and I can share.

And what else could a parent want? Over the years, books have taken me on adventures, introduced me to great souls, inspired me with great ideas, and given me the world... even as I still read them deep into the night just as my daughter does.

Regards,
Tom

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