By LINDA KOEHLER
Once in a while I listen to CAT Country, 96.1 FM, on the way to work. This morning Becca challenged us with a brain teaser: "What building has the most stories?"
My mushy morning brain immediately pulled out the Empire State Building. OK, I know it's no longer the tallest building in the world, but that's what popped up first.
Then I rationalized the question was a brain teaser, so there had to be an answer not quite so obvious. My next guess was a library. I could have won a free gift certificate to a pizza restaurant. Bummer.
I love libraries. I love the smell of old books and new books. I love being surrounded by hundreds of thousands, millions and billions of words that were written just for me to be educated, entertained and informed about everything under the sun. Isn't that the most amazing thing?
Oh, I know. Computers, Kindles and other incredible technological gadgets can impart the same information and entertainment a book can. The debate between those who love holding a book and turning pages and those who love their tech gadgets is lost on me. For us bibliophiles, nothing compares to an old-fashioned book.
I've been an avid reader all my life. If my parents bought me a Little Golden Book, it became a little golden treasure. Some of my favorites were "Rootie Kazootie Joins the Circus" and "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel."
I graduated to comic books, saving them and rereading them often. Then Nancy Drew became my best friend. My goal was to own every single Nancy Drew mystery book.
The first real grown-up book I read was "Gone With The Wind," which today remains my favorite book. I've read so many "great" books since, but like most things, your first is always very special and sentimental.
Guess what tomorrow is? It's the beginning of National Library Week, April 13-19, sponsored by the American Library Association. Libraries are filled with priceless treasures. To help celebrate, I came up with some of my own brain teasers. Many of the great books we read have a first line that has become well-known.
I'm going to give you the first line of some of my favorite books, some classics and some best-sellers. See if you can guess what they are. And if you have to visit a library to find them, even better! The answers will be in next week's column.
"He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish."
"It was a pleasure to burn."
"Call me Ishmael."
"I'd never given much thought to how I would die though I'd had reason enough in the last few months but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this."
"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth."
"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."
"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four Privet Drive were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."
"First the colours. Ba-room, ba-room, ba-room, baripity, baripity, baripity, baripity Good.
"When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow."
"Travis McKinley is an ordinary man living an ordinary life he has a job that he despises, a marriage that has lost its passion, children from whom he feels disconnected, and at age fifty, a sense that he has accomplished nothing of consequence with his life."
"It was a dark and stormy night."
"In the summer of 1967, when I was ten years old, my father caved in to my persistent pleas and took me to get my own dog."
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."
"'Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents,' grumbled Jo, lying on the rug."
"Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were."
"'Where's Papa going with that axe?' said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast."
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair."
"Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum's Grand Gallery."
"When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold."
"I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support."
"The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play, so we sat in the house all that cold, cold wet day. I sat there with Sally. We sat here we two and we said, How we wish we had something to do."
"What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died?"
Oh yeah. I was curious about the tallest building in the world. It is the Burj Khalifa, a skyscraper in Dubai. It is 2,722 feet. The Empire State Building, which is now the 23rd tallest building in the world, is 1,250 feet tall. New York City's One World Trade Center is the fourth tallest at 1,776 feet.