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A PASSION FOR READING LEADS TO WORLD OF WONDER

We spent an hour at the movie store. It was a game we played -- searching for a movie that appealed to me. As I wandered the aisles, I was lucky to recognize an actor or two. From the description on the video packaging, the plots seemed flimsy to me.

Most videos go on interminably, heading off on some tangent to occupy 118 minutes of your time. There was no shortage of choices for my husband -- shoot 'em up, lock 'em up, blow it up. The stars were Steven Segal, Sly Stallone or Clint Eastwood. Anything with cowboys, soldiers or cops would do.

I, on the other hand, like movies that are based on a novel or history. "Beyond Borders" with Angelina Jolie takes us to impoverished Third World countries like Ethiopia and Cambodia in the 1980s. "The Missing" with Cate Blanchett and Tommy Lee Jones transports us to New Mexico, where bandits kidnap young women to sell in Mexico. It is based on the novel, "The Last Ride," by Thomas Eidson.

Countless movies may tell a good story, but as much as I enjoy a well-written script, I am a bookworm at heart.

So we played the game. We rented a comedy with Adam Sandler. I watched 20 minutes of it and left the room to snuggle in my bed with a book. This time it was "Amateur Marriage" by Anne Tyler, an amazing slice of life in an old Polish neighborhood. It was filled with the pain of a missing child and marital struggles and divorce.

I ponder my lifetime as a reader. I believe it was nature rather than nurture, although my father bought us comic books. He brought home the classics in comic book form and he himself read the Bible and all of our school textbooks.

One of my favorite books is "Shaman's Daughter" by Nan Salerno, a local writer, and Rosamond Vanderburgh. It is about Indian life in nearby Ontario. Another is "The Source" by James Michener. This is the story of how deity was perceived by humans, beginning with the cave man.

Another favorite series can be found at the library, Rosalind Laker's historical novels. They highlight the geography, politics and culture of France, Norway, Holland and England a century ago. Reading her novels is like job shadowing in historical times. You will observe the craft of a silversmith, a cabinetmaker, a silkworm breeder, a painter, a grower of tulips and an undercover agent in wartime.

I met my favorite author, Anna Quindlen, at Kleinhans Music Hall. I received an encouraging note from Rosamunde Pilcher in response to my fan mail.

I feel sick if I don't have a book to read. My daughters, Kelly and Krista, can identify with this malady. Another daughter, Suzanne, is always into a book. Krista has passed on her favorite titles to me: "Memoirs of a Geisha" by Arthur Golden and "Fortune's Rocks" by Anita Shreve, a story of love set in New Hampshire at the turn of the last century. The stories are mesmerizing.

Kelly gave me a bookmark that reads: "You are a lover of words. One day you will write a book." My reading has led me to writing. It is hard work and I am searching for my audience. I am a lover of words and of the books they become.

PAT WEBDALE, an avid reader and freelance writer, lives in Fredonia.

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