On long car rides or even worse, the long bus ride, people find ways to keep themselves busy so they can ignore the monotony and the boredom that will inevitably set in when driving along the highway.
Some people have the ability to sleep through a trip, not me.
Some people have the ability to enjoy such a dull drive, again ... not me.
Others play games.
My wife and I play the alphabet game. It's a simple game where you have to find a word that begins with each letter of the alphabet. The first person done wins.
I have never won.
Other games that are popular are the license plate game and a universal favorite called ''desert island.''
Desert island is a simple game that asks the question of ''if you were on a desert island, what would you take?'' You can ask about the five books you'd take or the five movies or the one food item you could not live without.
It is very simple and can kill some time before the next rest stop comes along in 100 miles.
So, I'll kick it all off for all of those summer drivers who are planning a West Coast trip. Sit back, think about your answers, and make sure to stop at Wall Drug in Wall, S.D., because if you don't ... well you've got a long way before you see anything else.
If I had to choose my five desert island books, these are the books that I would have to read over and over:
- "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Ernest Hemingway. It wasn't until I was in college that I began to really appreciate Hemingway's writing. For me, his best work as a storyteller and writer was in his story of an American who must destroy a bridge behind enemy lines in Spain during the Spanish Civil War and the love he finds.
- "The Sound and the Fury" by William Faulkner. Easily the hardest book I've ever read and thanks to a great professor at Kent State, one of the deepest and most engrossing. It is a story of a southern family struggling to maintain their way of life after the Civil War. Written in the voice of the main characters of the story, including a severely mentally challenged adult and a Harvard college student losing his grip on sanity, it is a book that should be read again and again.
- "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams. A completely off-the-wall science fiction book about an Englishman who is saved from Earth right before it is destroyed. The story and writing is total nonsense and entertaining from start to finish.
- "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompson. This book is the singular reason that I decided to go into journalism and writing. His way of writing about a story while including himself as a central character changed journalism. The book is hilarious and truly thought-provoking at its core.
- "The Shining" by Stephen King. Like "Fear and Loathing," this is a book that I love because I saw the movie first. "The Shining" is my favorite horror film of all time, and when I finally picked up the book and gave it a read, I was blown away. The suspense that carries throughout the book and the deterioration of its main character make it almost impossible to put down. Plus, a good scare is good for you.
There are a lot of other books that would be good choices to have, but when I think back on my years of school and leisure reading, these are the ones that stand out as the very best. Of course I could have picked another Hemingway book, such as "A Farewell to Arms," or something that is not fiction at all by one of my favorite authors, John Douglas, who writes true crime stories and is a former FBI agent.
I believe that it is very important that we continue to read as much as we can, both new and old, fiction and non-fiction, because unlike films, a book allows your imagination to craft the world in which you are reading.
As technology allows us to get whatever we want pretty much as fast as we want it, many of us no longer want to sit down and enjoy a 500-page novel. However, in doing so, we are able to learn and grow intellectually by expanding the world that we know and the world that is all around us.
I am guilty of popping in a DVD instead of opening a book about 90 percent of the time, but when I finish a book, I am satisfied.
My suggestion to both of my readers is make a list of your five "desert island" books and then go back and read them and remember why you enjoyed them so much in the first place.
For some of you, it will be Nicholas Sparks and his stories of love and loss, and for others it could be the seemingly endless supply of Nora Roberts books, but it doesn't matter who wrote it as long as it speaks to the reader.
This is perfect time to go outside, lounge on a chair and read one of your favorite books again, or you could grab something you've never read before. If you position your chair just right, you can get a tan, sweat off a little of last night's ice cream cone and take in a masterpiece all at the same time.
If you have a good book that you think I should try, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org