In my younger days, as a schoolboy, I was enthusiastic about reading biographies and autobiographies of great and famous people. Here and there, when I had the opportunity to lay my hands on some of those books, I would hold it until I had read the last line, last word, last letter. I was barely making lunchbreaks and had very few hours of sleep at a time. I imagined that, one day, after collecting enough memories of my own, I would write my own biography. It was for that purpose, my father brought his old "Olympia" typewriter down from attic, cleaned the dust from it and put it in the centre of my desk.
And, suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, I was struck with disappointment. I realised that I didn`t even know how to write a book. Even in school, when we had a writing practice, I had a hard time writing a page or two. Besides that, I was only twelve and had not experienced enough in life to write about. That understanding put me in a very bad mood. I was thinking hard what to do. And, one night, a salutary thought woke me up, a thought that found its way out of my subconscious mind. The solution to my problem was quite simple: I would start to read all books I could find. And after enough books read I would be able to write one. Maybe not something first rate, but at least with few hundreds of pages.
I wanted to start immediatelly but we didn`t have enough books at home. Besides, I have already read all of them. So I needed to wait till morning and go to library. And so I did.
In the beginning my plan was to read only the autobiographies, but I realised that if I really wanted to widen my knowledge, I would have to start with different genres: historical studies, novels, satiric stories, psychology, philosophy, poetry, science fiction, filology…. A woman that worked in the library loaned me books in alphabetical order and she couldn`t hide her surprise for my eagerness for reading. When I finished with all the books from the nearest library I moved to another, then another, and another…. If someone could say that I was reading too much before, now nothing could separate me from my books. I was reading during lunch, while sitting, lying down, walking on the street, driving in bus. Even when taking a shower a book was opened on my washing mashine.
Now and then, I would look at father's old "Olympia", and wipe the dust from it occasionally. One day, with a great regret I discovered that many of the keys are not functioning and some mecahnical parts were stuck. I spent few minutes thinking over that problem, but the next minute I was reading again.
During this, my parents died, cousins and friends stopped visiting me a long ago. I earned a reputation as a weird man in my neighbourhood, someone who cannot be seen without book. Even kids on the street stopped making jokes about me because I didn`t noticed them.
Suddenly, when I was 74 I stopped. Just like that, in a half of a sentence, one thought passed through my mind. It was all nonsense. Because of reading, I hadn`t found time to do anything else in my life and in my autobiography I will have nothing to write about. While my generation travelled, enjoyed parties, getting married,made and educated their kids, earned money, expected grandchildren, pensions and a quiet old age, I was only reading, reading, reading…. For 62 years I was only reading!!! I lived off of the inheritance my parents left me and even that was nearly gone. I looked around my room: everywhere, piles of clothes, old and patched, dirty dishes in the kitchen, ants and mice feeding from the leftovers of my recent meals.
I sat by my desk, moved a few letters and cards, that people had sent me before I was twenty or thirty years old, to the side. I took a look at my father`s old "Olympia". It was under thick layer of dust, completely unusable. I opened a drawer and took out my grandfather`s "Luger", a trophy left from some ancient war.
Unlike the "Olympia", it worked pretty well.