Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Celebrating a life through books

My Dad And His 10,496 Book Reviews
My Dad had an absolute love of reading, and he instilled that love in me as a child when he gave me some of his favorite books to read, a love that is still burning strong today. Wherever my Dad went, he always made sure to bring a book along with him, so he could sneak in a few pages if he had a chance.

He was an amateur competitive cyclist when I was young, and he was a marathon runner in his final years. It was tough for him to combine reading and his love of exercise, but he managed by having a book rack attached to his stationary bicycle, and he even occasionally attempted to read while he ran on a treadmill.

My Dad was a talented multi-tasked reader, as he would read in his office at work, listen to audio books when he was on the road, and he'd always read a book while he was watching TV. I'm not sure how he did it, but he was always able to read while still paying attention to everything that was on TV, which more often than not would be some type of sport, especially Baseball (Yankees), Football (Pittsburgh Steelers & Penn State Nittany Lions), and College Basketball (Duke). He would read a new book every 1-3 days, and it was usually leaning more towards one book a day.

Around the time we had our first home computer, my Dad started to keep track of all of the books that he read in an Excel Spreadsheet. He kept his spreadsheet up to date for almost twenty years, and he'd accumulated 10,496 books before his death. My Dad rated his books on a 1-10 scale, but his average score floated around 7.5/10, so I think he generally enjoyed most of what he read.

He'd attempted to list books that he'd read before creating the spreadsheet, but he thought that he'd still missed many of them, and assumed that he'd read over 12,000 books throughout his life. He read many different genres of books, but his favorites were always suspense/mystery/thriller novels. He gave 794 books a nine out of ten rating or above, and some of his all-time favorite authors were David Baldacci, Stephen Cannell, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, John Grisham, Steve Hamilton, Greg Iles, Dean Koontz, William Kent Krueger, James Patterson, Paul Wilson, and Stuart Woods.
The essay is a testament to a father, bibliophile, and library supporter, Craig Zarzyczny, who died recently of pancreatic cancer. My condonlences to the Zarzyczny family for their loss, and I appreciate his son sharing a bit of his father with the rest of us.
He originally bought most of the books he read, and the attic is still filled with boxes of old books, however for the past 15-20 years he's mostly loaned the books from the library. My Dad loved our local library, the James V Brown Library, where all of the librarians knew his name, and he would leave there with a bag full of books about once a week. For the past year or two, he'd also tried reading ebooks on a Tablet I bought for him for Christmas, and while he loved downloading all of the free indie Kindle books he could get his hands on, he still preferred a good hardcover book.
May you rest in peace, sir.

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