MASSENA - Francis McDonald says he enjoys traveling to other lands regularly, and it doesnt cost him a penny.
Mr. McDonald makes those visits through the power of the printed word. He and his wife, Elaine, can regularly be found perusing the titles at the Massena Public Library and checking out books to enjoy at home.
Their thirst for reading hasnt gone unrecognized. They were named the 2014 Readers of the Year at the Massena Public Library. Bruce Podgurski was named the 2014 Volunteer of the Year.
Im probably in the library three or four times a week. I average two (books) a week. I go to bed at night with a book, Mr. McDonald said.
Now retired from his job as an engineer at General Motors, he said reading has always been in his blood.
I read a lot before I retired, he said.
Mr. McDonald said his main reading interest is history.
And I like biographies, World War II history, Civil War history, he said.
He said he enjoys traveling to other eras and locations without leaving his house.
It really does take you someplace else. I get to learn about places Ive never been. It gives you the opportunity to visit foreign countries, Mr. McDonald said.
I especially like books that take me back into history. I can see how the pilgrims lived or how London looked in the 1800s. I just like being transported, he said.
Books are also part of a continuing learning process, according to Mr. McDonald, who said his son and daughter are both in the education field.
Education is basically the main reason I read. I pride myself on trying to learn something as often as I can during the day, he said.
Mr. McDonald said, in addition to reading, hes a Jeopardy fan and also does crossword puzzles.
I just like to learn new things. I figure as long as I keep learning, Ill keep my wits about me anyway, he said.
While the world may be moving on with the world of Kindles and other e-book readers, Mr. McDonald says hes staying with reading the old-fashioned way.
I like the smell of the book; I like the smell of the library, the whole experience, he said.
Mr. McDonald said he had no idea that the library was naming him and his wife the Readers of the Year.
They sent us a letter in the mail, from Elaine (Dunne-Thayer, library director), he said. It was really surprising. I was surprised and humbled. I felt really rewarded.
Theres a lot to distract people in todays world, from hundreds of channels on the television, to gaming systems, to cell phones and tablets. But Mr. McDonald said reading is more rewarding for him, and it could be for others who havent opened up the pages of a book recently.
I would say, if you want to expand your horizons, if you want to travel without spending any money, the best way to do it is to read, he said.