In March of 2012 I wrote a post about the important role that my hometown library played for me when I was a child. As a person who grew up with very few books in the home and no age-appropriate books, the library was a sanctuary for me.
In the post, I also wrote about the very first library book that I ever borrowed:
I still remember the first book that I checked out of the library, but I cannot remember the title, and for years, I have been trying to find it. It was a dystopian science fiction story in which the tallest buildings in the world begin to liquefy, starting with the Sears Tower in Chicago, the tallest building at the time. The very tip of the building first begins to liquefy, and as the height of Sears Tower comes even with the second tallest building in the world, that building begins to liquefy as well.
Eventually all the buildings of the word begin to liquefy at exactly the same rate, throwing the planet into terror and chaos.
Ultimately, it is discovered that this is the work of an alien race that feels obliged to ensure that mankind does not advance technologically beyond a point that is considered safe. By keeping building no taller than six stories, the aliens believe that the technological advancement of the human race will be curtailed. Ultimately, every building of the world is liquefied to this point.
I asked readers if they knew the title of the book, and several (including a number of librarians) took guesses at the title and sent me to websites designed specifically for the purpose of locating books like this, but after hours of searching online, I had no luck.
The book was probably out of print and more than likely ceased to exist.
More than a year after writing the post, after I had all but given up the search (and forgotten about it entirely), a reader named Jim Uren posted a suggestion in the comment section:
Any chance the book was “The Skyscraper Doom?”
The name sounded familiar, but I told myself not to get excited. It was likely another wild goose chase. I went to Google, typed “Skyscraper of Doom” into the search box and this was the first image that I saw:
I had found the book. I couldn’t believe it.
The book was out of print, so it wasn’t easy to to obtain a copy, but today, Skyscraper of Doom, the first book that I ever borrowed from a public library, is sitting on my dining room table, waiting to be read.
Will this book prove to be as captivating as it was circa 1981?
I’ve read thousands of books since then, so my standards of excellence have been raised considerably.
But that doesn’t matter. When I started borrowing books from the library, a brand new world was opened to me. I read this book in just a few days and hundreds soon followed.
Agatha Christie. Stephen King. Douglas Adams. Frank Herbert. Mark Twain. J.R.R. Tolkien. Harper Lee. Orson Scott Card. Madeleine L’Engle. Ray Bradbury. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. William Golding. S.E. Hinton.
I couldn’t get enough of these authors.
I was suddenly on a path to reading and writing and has led me to where I am today. Without the generosity of the public library, it’ likely that I wouldn’t be an author and might not love reading the way I do.
I took my first steps on that literary path with a book written by Norman Zierold, a Hollywood biographer with eight books to his credit including a memoir entitled That Reminds Me that published earlier this month.
It turns out that Skyscraper of Doom was his only novel.
Norman Zierold’s only foray into fiction changed a reader forever.