Thursday, December 3, 2009

Guest Post - Larry Sweitzer

Today I have the honor of hosting author, Larry Sweitzer, for his virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotions.  Please help me welcom Larry by commenting on his post.

Larry Sweitzer is a writer, musician, and avid baseball fan. He was born and raised in western Maryland and now lives in Virginia with his wife and two daughters. The Ghost, the Eggheads, and Babe Ruth’s Piano is his first novel. Larry is on virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion. You can visit his official tour page at

How The Hobbit Changed My Life

I’m an avid reader and have been for many years. I’ll read anywhere, at anytime: the waiting room at the doctor’s office, airports, a park bench, just about every room in my house. Daytime … nighttime, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes it’s fleeting—a half hour here or fifteen minutes there. Other times I read for hours on end. This frequently involves staying up until the wee hours of the night at the cost of not getting a good night’s sleep, but it’s usually worth it. It’s my chance to catch up with my main character. I get to find out where he’s going next or if he’s finally going to call the girl he met the other day. I get to find out if the hero saves the day or if the evil robots take over the world.

But it wasn’t always so. When I was a child, I was a reluctant reader. Book reports were torture because I had trouble (I know now) with reading comprehension. I drudged through school book assignments unwillingly and I rarely attempted to read any books for the pure enjoyment of it.

That all changed when I was about fourteen. That’s when I read The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Finally, a book that engaged me—occupied my senses until I put it down. It pulled me in and never let me go. The characters: Bilbo, Gandalf, the dwarves, Elrond, and the others, led me on the journey. The scenery: the black forest of Mirkwood, Misty Mountain, and so many other places that Bilbo stumbled into, all felt real to me. And let’s not forget the mysterious ring!

That’s all it took—one book. The right book, for me. Reading that book started me on my path to being a life-long reader. After that, I was more willing to give other books a try. I reached out to other characters and allowed them to tell me their story.

I wonder, at times, just how many boys today are giving books a chance. How many of them will become passionate readers? Are they being exposed to enough books with the hope that one of those books will be the one for them? That’s one of the reasons I wrote my novel The Ghost, the Eggheads, and Babe Ruth’s Piano. There always seems to be a shortage of books for boys between 12 and 18 years old. Ask any librarian. Tween and YA books for girls? There are mountains of them.

I hope my book lives up to young readers’ expectations. I hope it engages them and at the least, entertains them until the end. But, if one boy reads it and continues on with other books because of it, then it was worth it.

Was there a book that started you down the path of reading? What was it? Have you revisited that old friend lately? Have you recommended it to anyone recently? I’d love to hear about it!


Molly said...

Such a great post! I teach the Hobbit to 7th graders for this exact reason: it is a great story for both sexes and many times it is the first story that the boys really enjoy to read themselves.

It is too bad that there are not more books written for the male YA reader. I hope that is remedied soon :)

Katy said...

Thought-provoking post! How funny that I just picked up a copy of The Hobbit at my local UBS last night, because I have sadly never read it! It's on my pile of books to read next year. :)

I think the books that really hooked me on reading as a child were in the Little House on the Prairie series. I adored it. I read and reread the books in my set. I dreamed about living on the prairie myself. :)

max said...

It's so important to draw attention to reading, and attract reluctant readers to it,especially boys. In fact, I've recently completed a feature magazine article on this subject that came out in October, "Help for Struggling, Reluctant Readers."

Like you, I grew up as a reluctant reader, in spite of the fact that my father published over 70 books. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that avid boy readers and girls enjoy just as much.

My blog, Books for Boys is dedicated to drawing attention to the importance of reading.

Keep up your good work.

Max Elliot Anderson

Larry Sweitzer said...

Thank you, Shelly for having me today and for being a part of my book tour!

Molly: Thank you for doing what you do! It must be amazing to witness (and play a huge role in) the transformation in the kids when they start to embrace reading!

Larry Sweitzer said...

Katy: What a coincidence! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did...and still do!

Growing up, my sister had a shelf on the headboard of her bed that was lined with the Little House books! She was constantly reading them.

Max: It's so great that you are helping to change the lives of our children. It really can be life-changing when a child becomes an avid reader. I will definitely check out your blog!

Lynn said...

Great story, Larry. I once had a student keep CATCHER IN THE RYE weeks after the rest of the class turned it in. He told me it was the only book he had ever finished. He loved Holden Caulfield's defiance.

Back then, I didn't know that his slow reading was a learning disability, and I had no way to help him other than letting him keep the book until nearly the end of the semester. We didn't have computers checking them in and out, and I don't think anyone ever noticed, except Kevin and me.

Wherever he is today, I hope he is successful. I am so sorry that the public schools shortchanged him.

Thanks for sharing your story about falling in love with THE HOBBIT.

B. Lynn Goodwin
Author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers

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