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Cover to Cover: The reading life of Ron Olson
Editor's note: This month's column subject is Ron Olson, an Argyle native and business administrator for the School District of Monroe. Olson is a voracious reader and loves to explore used bookstores in his spare time.

What are you reading now?

I've been reading a lot of Lee Child recently, along with William Kent Krueger and John Sanford. I've also recently read Joseph Heywood and a little Steve Hamilton. Every now and then, I'll get on a kick where I go through my naval history stuff, sometimes westerns, or sci-fi, and fantasy. I tend to read whatever catches me at the moment.

Can you tell us one of your favorite books growing up?

As I kid, I always had a book in my hand. The earliest book I remember enjoying was in fourth grade, when our teacher read a chapter of "Where the Red Fern Grows" each day. That had a huge impact on me. I know she read other books to us that year, but that's the one that I most vividly recall. I also enjoyed the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, where you got to pick your own path.

As I got older, my favorite author was Louis L'Amour. Before finishing high school, I read every Louis L'Amour book that was written. My high school librarian was constantly updating the library (to bring in more titles) as l read through them all. l don't know how I got turned on to Louis L'Amour; but to this day, I own almost all of them. If I'm bored or going somewhere where I know I might have an hour or two, and I want a quick read that I can blow through quickly, I'll take one along and read it. I've read most of them at least five or six times over the years.

Do you tend to prefer fiction over nonfiction?

Definitely. I pretty much read for enjoyment. Every now and then, I have to read some serious technical stuff for my job. I really don't care for that style of reading. I will read nonfiction of a topic that interests me. Usually that's historical, maybe war-related; but it's usually just fiction for me, because that's where my interests lie.

Based on what you read, you've probably seen a lot of the books you like turned into movies.

Oftentimes, I don't like them as well. Look at all the details good writers can put into a single page; and how they try to make a two-hour movie from the whole book. If you look back to some of the Tom Clancy books they've tried to make a two-hour movie from, it's kind of ridiculous. With "Harry Potter," I watched the movies before I ever read the books. So for me, those were okay because I didn't have preconceptions. If I've read the book, the movie ends up disappointing me.

One which actually surprised me, as a big Lee Child fan, was the "Jack Reacher" film. I was incensed at the time it was released. For those who haven't read the novels, Jack Reacher is a retired army sergeant, 6-foot-5-inches, 240 pounds, and he was to be played by Tom Cruise, who is maybe 5-foot-5-inches or so and not 240 pounds. I was not very excited about all that, but Tom Cruise put up his money to make the movie because he was inspired by the character. He wouldn't have been my first choice to play the character, but I came away from it thinking he did a really good job. I was pleasantly surprised.

If you were stranded on a desert island with only one book, what would you want it to be?

There are countless books that I've read numerous times already. I don't know if I should reread one of those books again. I almost feel it should be something longer that would take me a while to get through before I started reading it again.

I think I would choose something like "The Grey Seas Under: The Perilous Rescue Missions of a North Atlantic Salvage Tug," by Farley Mowat. It's not a sequential book that you read from beginning to end - each disaster is a new call. You can read each of those chapters and they end up being their own little stories within the one book.

If you could be a character in a book you've read, who would it be?

I'd love to say Horatio Hornblower, or someone like that, but I don't think I'd want to be in the British Navy. I'm way too tall. I'd hit my head on everything. Some of the western characters, certainly, in the Louis L'Amour books ... If I could ride horses, I'd probably say those folks would be who I would like to emulate. I just like nature. I like history. I like that sense of when you could kind of make yourself and you could still own your own destiny. You weren't quite boxed in like the world has us today.

As you move forward in time, I won't say Lucas Davenport, a John Sanford character, because my personality is very different from his. That's true of Jack Reacher as well. Virgil Flowers, another John Sanford character, is a little more easy-going, but uses his intellect to solve things that are happening - that appeals to who I am.

- Cover to Cover is provided by the Monroe Public Library and is published the fourth Wednesday of the month.