Eric D. Goodman’s Tracks is the latest release from our friends at Atticus Books, who are among my favorite new indie presses. The novel follows the stories of the passengers on a train from Baltimore to Chicago, breaking into their lives, both real and as imagined by the other passengers, skillfully and subtly intertwining their tales. It’s good stuff and you can read two of the chapters here. Here’s Eric’s version of the When We Fell In Love essay:

When We Fell In Love – Eric Goodman

My earliest memories of reading come in flashes of unassociated images and feelings:  my father reading to me about a Cat in a Hat; my mother feeding me with Green Eggs and Ham; a book about a Giving Tree and one about a Very Hungry Caterpillar. Without even noticing, the Wild Rumpus had begun.

By the time I had graduated to being able to read “I Can Read It All By Myself” books all by myself, my parents still read to me. I vividly remember my dad sitting in the chair beside my lower bunk bed and reading me a chapter each night from The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

It must have been around the forth grade when I began to devour books the way Sam did green eggs or the caterpillar did just about everything else.  My elementary school announced the M.S. Read-a-Thon to benefit people with multiple sclerosis. To be honest, I really had no idea what M.S. was or how I would be helping the cause.  I just knew that a goal had been set before me that, as a kid who already loved writing and had a thing for books, I knew I wanted to take on.  I went door to door and signed up a couple dozen sponsors for the read-a-thon.  For every book I read over that long, hot summer each sponsor agreed to cough up a set amount for the worthy cause. “The kid’s probably going to be playing outside all summer,” they must have thought as they committed to their dollar or two per book.

But there were prizes.  Mystery Sleuth tee-shirts, bookmarks, toys and trinkets. A bicycle for the winner who brought in the most loot. That summer was a hot and muggy one. I was ready to stay indoors and read.

I started with American cheese, but my tastes soon sophisticated and I moved on to finer varieties.  After running through thirty or forty “Choose-Your-Own-Adventure” books (remember those?), I read The Hobbit on my own, Dad’s voice echoing in my head. Then A Wrinkle in Time.  Charlotte’s Web.  Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. The Cay, Shane, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.  I marveled at Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Jungle Book.  I joined James in the Giant Peach. I even hopped aboard  one of the Hornblower novels, encouraged by my own dad’s career in the Navy.  That summer, I was Kidnapped by books.

When school started the next year, I didn’t take the top prize, win a bicycle or even the coveted x-ray glasses. But what I did win was a love for reading that carried on into my adult life and remains with me today. And a Mystery Sleuth tee-shirt.

These days I prefer Steinbeck to Seuss.  But when I read the books of my childhood to my own children, I know that I’m doing my part to lead them on a path to falling in love with reading.

Eric D. Goodman is the author of Tracks, a novel in stories (Atticus Books).  He regularly reads his fiction on Baltimore’s NPR station, WYPR, and at book festivals and literary events. His work has appeared in The Baltimore Review, The Pedestal Magazine, Writers Weekly, The Potomac, and New Lines from the Old Line State: An Anthology of Maryland Writers, among others. Eric’s also the author of his own storybook for children, Flightless Goose.