When I was a small boy I read Mark Twain's "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn." I enjoyed the adventurousness of Tom and the language that Twain used to describe his actions. I was hooked at a young age and continued to read anything my parents or relatives or friends put in front of me (I still read every book I'm given for my birthday or Christmas). I continued reading paperback fiction and eventually graduated to real literature and thick novels full of meaningful, thought-provoking ideas. I've read philosophy, fiction, biography, non-fiction, historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy.
I learned the struggles of different cultures from books like "Beloved," "Trail of Tears," and many others I've forgotten. I'd like to state somewhere in here that my memory is about as bad as it can be (I tested on the 20th percentile on a test for people who are already screwy). My experiences through books have led me to become a more compassionate person. I see everyone as a book I have yet to read. Each person is a mystery that can by unraveled with time and effort. I could probably read a biography on any person and enjoy it, whether they were a war hero or a housewife. Reading is an integral part of my being and it has shaped who I am.
[Note from Katie: The above was part of Karl's senior project, written in the Spring of 1999. Karl really did read every book I ever recommended to him, and when I read a good book now, I really regret not being able to share it with him. I gave him "About a Boy" a couple of years ago, and when a woman at work described a terrific movie she had seen, Karl said "That sounds like 'About a Boy.'" He said that really made some points for him. I miss getting his recommendations too. This may sound weird, but a couple of days after Karl died, I woke up with a man's voice saying, "Gibson," and he said it a couple of times. I thought that was pretty strange, until I remembered that for a long time, Karl had urged me to read the novels of William Gibson, being convinced that he presented a version of the future that was on the way to coming true. I really think that voice was Karl reminding me to get to it. (I had read "Idoru," and I have to admit that there are some pretty interesting and scary ideas there.)