For some, reading is described as a hobby.
But for David Lubar, it is as essential to life as breathing and eating.
“It’s so much a part of my daily existence,” says the author of 17 books. “If I’m not writing, I’m reading what I’ve written or I’m reading something else.”
Lubar has been a full-time writer since 1994.
Working of his home in Pennsylvania, his books for younger readers include the Weenies series and the Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie series.
Later this month, this group of readers – and their fathers, too – will get the opportunity to talk to Lubar about books and reading.
“Dinner with David Lubar” will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, at the Waupaca Area Public Library.
The event is part of Guys Read Month at the local library.
Children’s librarian Sue Abrahamson explains why Guys Read initiatives are taking place throughout the country.
“We hear it mostly from parents and teachers, and it’s a decades old problem,” she said of boys and reading.
Some boys do not like to read, while others believe they are not good at it, she said.
Reading tests stretching back 30 years show that in every age group, boys score lower than girls, Abrahamson said.
She said boys are also twice as likely to be held back a grade or to drop out of school altogether.
“I think every parent knows boys and girls are different. And, we don’t take that into account in schools on those things like required reading lists. When a third-grade boy has to read Little House on the Prairie, he might decide, ‘Wow, if this is reading, it’s not for me.'” she said. “I’m proud that, as librarians, we consciously make book purchases with boys and men in mind.”
When author Patrick Jones visited Waupaca in October 2010 for the library’s Book Festival, Abrahamson remembers his story of being a 12 year old and mustering up the courage to approach the local librarian to ask if there were any magazines in the library about wrestling.
He said her face looked like “she sucked on a lemon for 100 years,” Abrahamson said. “He remembers that she made him feel stupid, and he never went back to the library. Patrick became a librarian just to never do that to a kid.”
Abrahamson said that in Waupaca, they see many boys at the library.
“Lately, the publishing world has given them great books to choose from that satiates their interests,” she said.
Teen/reference Librarian Melissa Carollo became acquainted with Lubar’s work when she attended the YA Literature Symposium in Nashville in 2008.
“At that point, I had not read him,” she said.
After the symposium, she read some of his books and discovered that his sense of humor carried through in his writing.
“I had him in the back of my mind as a good author for this event,” she said of the Jan. 31 Skype dinner. “I contacted him in October, because I know authors book out in advance.”
Carollo had an idea to give free copies of his books to those who signed up for the event.
About 60 copies of four of his titles are available in the children’s department of the library, with the cost covered by a donation from the Friends of the Library and in the library’s teen programming budget.
“If we happen to give away all of them, the Friends is committed to purchasing additional copies,” Carollo said.
The four books that are available are My Rotten Life, The Battle of the Red Hot Pepper Weenies, Dunk and Hidden Talents.
She said the participants do not have to be boys. Along with a free copy of a David Lubar book, they will also receive a ticket to attend the Skype dinner. On the back of the ticket, they can write down what questions they want to ask him.
Library staff would appreciate if people sign up by Friday, Jan. 27, so they can plan how much food will be needed.
The library’s Student Library Advisory Group is contributing to Lubar’s speaking fee and will help with ushering and food service duties during the Jan. 31 event.
“I have done several Skype events before. This is the first one that will involve food,” Lubar said in a recent telephone interview with the County Post. “I love Q and A. You never know what is going to happen. Spontaneity is fun.”
Each event ticket will be numbered so that Lubar can draw numbers for door prizes and announce them during the Skype event.
In addition, Lubar signed bookplates that were designed for the books.
Lubar says he always loved to write.
He said that as a child, “I devoured books. I was a voracious reader of everything – science fiction, biographies, a lot of science books, joke books.”
When asked if he continued to be such a reader during his middle school and high school years, he said. “Thanks to my lack of sports skills, I had plenty of time to read.”
Lubar likes to write scary books and funny books.
“I was quite a fan of monsters when I was little,” he said.
He grew up in Morristown, N.J., where in school, he often got sent to the library for talking too much in the classroom.
“I was the annoying student who wouldn’t shut up, even after being asked,” Lubar said. “I was an impulsive talker.”
His mother was a school librarian.
Lubar graduated from Rutgers with a degree in philosophy.
“I fully intended to study something like chemistry. I was a science nerd,” he said.
However, after one day in a philosophy class, he fell in love with the subject, realizing that was how his mind worked.
After college, he began writing and stumbled into the computer industry after selling a story for a computer magazine.
“It dawned on me that I understand programs,” he said. “I had accidentally trained myself to program.”
For many years, Lubar worked in the gaming industry, designing and programming video games.
“But, I missed writing,” he said, also explaining that the gaming industry evolved into something more sophisticated that involved teams of people rather than the days of him working alone on projects.
Of the novels and books he writes today, Lubar says they all have plots and are enjoyed by as many female readers as male readers.
“A book can be fun and also good. It’s not an either-or situation,” he said.
Lubar likes to read funny books, non fiction and science fiction. Read more about him at his website: http://davidlubar.com.
Carollo said it is important to remember that reading is reading, whether it is a book, a magazine or a website.
Abrahamson said, “I hear parents say that there isn’t enough time to read. This is a disturbing comment to me. Would we say to our child, ‘There isn’t enough time for TV, video games or sports?’ I know time is a prime commodity, but reading for pleasure has rewards that are almost immeasurable. It translates to better jobs, people skills, math and science-related activities and better parenting skills. These are things that are hard to put a price tag on.”
She said it is time to celebrate the different ways boys and men read.
“That’s why we have Guys Read Month. Not to short the girls, but to say to boys, ‘Hey, look . . . We’ve got some really great stuff that I think you’ll like to read,’ and to get guys talking to each other about books. When a boy suggests a book he liked to another boy that has more clout than Mom or the female librarian recommending a book,” Abrahamson said.
Lubar said, “Most experts I’ve heard say any reading is good. If it’s a comic book or it’s Moby Dick, it’s still reading. A comic book can lead you to The Great Gatsby. When in doubt, just buy my books.”