These books were made for walking

Published 6:58 pm Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Talk about an avid reader.

Tommy Gray heads the list.

The only time that he isn’t reading is when he’s off visiting. To read then would be rude.

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But other than that, Gray is reading.

And, he’s been turning heads since he moved to Troy two months ago. People want to know, ‘Who’s that man that’s walking around town reading a book?”

“Some people stop me and ask, ‘How do you do that?’” Gray said. “But, I’ve always walked and read so, for me, it’s easy.”

Gray was born in North Carolina, grew up in Connecticut and lived much of his adult life in San Diego. He and his wife recently moved to Troy where she has relatives.

“It was easier to read and walk in San Diego because there are more sidewalks,” Gray said. “The ground is more uneven so you have to scan more.”

Gray said the trick to reading and walking is to scan above the book.

“That way you can miss the telephone poles and stop signs,” he said, with a chuckle. “Having blinking lights on the poles would keep readers from bumping into them.”

However, Gray misspoke. He should have said “reader” because, there is only one person walking and reading around town and it’s Tommy Gray.

Gray can’t remember a time when he wasn’t reading. Even before he started school, he was reading – the Americana Encyclopedia and the Harvard Classics.

“I remember picture books vaguely but the older you get the farther away your memories get,” he said laughing. “I’ve read every kind of book. My uncle read Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour. I would read all those Western paperbacks at my grandmother’s.

“When I was young, I read science fiction and fantasy books but there weren’t as many of them back then as there are now. So, I read out of them. I’ve even read Gothic romances when I didn’t have anything else to read.”

Gray admits to having read in the shower. The trick to that is keeping the book above the shower heard, he said.

With the heavy traffic flow in the Troy downtown area, Gray must have nerves of steel.

“I’ve walked and read so long that I don’t even think about it,” he said, adding that it would be a waste of time to walk without a book in hand.

“When we lived in San Diego, people were so used to seeing me walk and read that, if I happened to have finished the books I had available, they would stop me and ask, ‘Where’s your book?’’ Gray said. “Sometimes I’d read too fast and then not have anything to read.”

Gray said he reads word for word.

“I’ve tried scanning the copy down the middle of the page,” he said. “That way, you’re supposed to catch the words on either side. But I just end up scanning over the page until I’ve read all the words anyway.”

How many books Gray reads in a month depends on the books. But he had already read two books on Wednesday and was on his third.

But, he does stop reading long enough to watch a little television.

“I watch television at times but I do not watch commercials,” he said. “So, I keep a book handy to read during the commercials. And, if the television show is not too interesting, I’ll read and watch at the same time.”

For the information of those around Troy who are asking, “Who’s that man walking and reading?” It’s newcomer Tommy Gray. He’s an avid reader and there are still many books that he has not read and many miles that he has not walked. So get used to seeing him walking and reading on the streets of Troy.