"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
--- Frank Herbert, Dune
Much of my though and subsequent life has been gleaned from the written word. I don't remember the first book I read but I remember my grandmother reading stories to me from The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm. I remember reading "A Pilgrims Progress" when I was about five years old.
Fiction has always been my favorite and Science Fiction my love. I discovered Robert Heinlein through a beloved older cousin that bought me two of his novels when I was six years old. After that I read everything by Heinlein I could get my hands on.
I learned that true friends are more rare than diamonds and to do the right thing for self respect and not for praise or reward.
Later, I read books of philosophy and religion, then politics, history and biographies, (and the back of soup cans and cereal boxes).
Through that reading, I gained an appreciation of humanity, even with all its warts, and a cynicism that has always disturbed my family greatly. I learned that civilization is ephemeral and to prepare for the worst but live for the day. I learned that life is paradoxical and if these things seem contradictory, life itself is a constant contradiction.
The one thing I know for a fact.
Without individual freedom, all of the knowledge in the world is worthless.