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Favorite Books

Sharing Stories
March 30, 2024 at 11:14 p.m.
Ray Bradbury lived to 91, with a career of 70 years. Sounds like one of his stories.
Ray Bradbury lived to 91, with a career of 70 years. Sounds like one of his stories.

...by April Ryan


The wonderful feeling of sharing favorite books as an adult is no “woe is me” book report to be graded and tested. 

Opening the first page is voluntary. A friend suggested I should read The Martian Chronicles written by Ray Bradbury, because I continually talked about taking a rocket to Mars, inspired by when I was eleven-years-old, watching Sputnik fly across the starry October sky on a chilly Saturday night in the year 1957. It was the first satellite to orbit earth, and looked like a traveling star. The Man in the Moon would never look the same, my fickle heart hoped for a trip to Mars.

Each chapter in The Martian Chronicles was a short story, a variety of hopes, dreams, nightmares, and rescue. Maybe I didn’t want to go to Mars after all, or maybe I did. Dreams seem to have a ticket for their own flight.

I became hooked and read everything I could get my hands on that Ray Bradbury had written.

Now, I wasn’t some Junior High School kid, I was in my early twenties and his stories took me to a new fantasyland. 

Holding a Bradbury book was about life, enthusiasm, danger, and inspiration. The Illustrated Man, Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine, I Sing the Body Electric, and Medicine for the Melancholy, so many books with stories making me search for more.

I loved his short story, The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit about six poor Mexican men with similar builds who pooled their money to buy a $60 pure-white linen summer suit they believed would change their lives. When each one wore the suit, changes happened. The big question, was it the suit or did they discover something they always had in themselves?

I was twenty-eight-years-old on a trip driving through California, when I discovered Ray Bradbury was giving a lecture at a California University. 

I don’t remember the town, or the name of the school, but I do remember seeing him step up to the podium wearing a perfect fitting pure-white suit. I clapped so hard at that lecture my hands hurt for days.

Time ticked on, and in my late thirties, I became a Seattle Metro bus driver for an adventurous twenty-seven years. 

Sometimes when people with a lot of tattoos got on the bus, I’d ask, “Have you read 'The Illustrated Man' by Ray Bradbury?” 

I let them know it is a book of short stories about tattoos coming to life and telling their story. 

One day a young, tattooed man got on the bus asking, “Aren’t you the driver that recommended I should read ‘The Illustrated Man’?” 

I nodded yes, then he reached in his backpack and pulled out a copy of the book. I smiled big all day long. 

Finally, I'd had a passenger that listened to me, and a Ray Bradbury book was riding on the bus.

April Ryan is a retired Seattle bus driver and prolific writer, often published in Northwest Prime Time, among other places.

SHARING STORIES is a weekly column for and about the 50 plus crowd living in the Puget Sound region. Send your stories and photos to ariele@comcast.net. Tell local or personal stories; discuss concerns around aging and other issues; share solutions, good luck, and reasons to celebrate; poems are fine too. Pieces may be edited or excerpted. We reserve the right to select among pieces. Photos are always a plus and a one-sentence bio is requested (where you live, maybe age or career, retired status, etc.).

SHARING STORIES is featured on www.northwestprimetime.com, the website for Northwest Prime Time, a monthly publication for baby boomers, seniors, retirees, and those contemplating retirement. The newspaper can be found in the greater Seattle area and other Puget Sound locations. For more information, call 206-824-8600 or visit www.northwestprimetime.com. To find other SHARING STORIES articles on this website type "sharing stories" in the search function above.
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