- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 4, 2015

PERU, Ill. (AP) - Mike Coulter consumes nearly a dozen books a week, reading nearly any volume he can get his hands on.

“I was going to read 4,800 books in six years, and I read 5,050 in 8½ years,” he said.

Coulter, 70, of the Peru High Rise fastidiously tracks his reading pace in a notebook. He rechecked his notes and apologized for providing the wrong total. Coulter actually has polished off 5,045 books since Aug. 10, 2006. That’s more than 11 books a week, nearly 600 a year. On Thursday morning he was reading number 5,046, “Bloodstream” by Tess Gerritsen.

I don’t like westerns and I don’t like love stories,” Coulter said. “I read just about everything else. I do read a lot of fiction.”

Prior to August 2006 he was more active, at times traveling and living with his sister in California. Coulter decided in August of that year to settle down, start reading more and set a goal.

“I was reading then but not to the extent I read now,” he said.

Despite his read-a-thon bragging rights, Coulter doesn’t accumulate a mountain of books. He keeps his stock revolving, with as many going out as coming in. Coulter acquires books at library and charity sales and at thrift shops.

He also trades with 15-20 other bibliophiles.

“They’ll call me or I’ll call them,” Coulter said. “When they need some books, I’ll give them some.”

His bedroom harbors about 200 books.

“Those I’ve all read, sports, music, government,” he said, sweeping his hand toward a stack of hardbacks. “Over there are paperbacks I’ve read over the years.”

Among his favorite authors are James Patterson and Sara Paretsky, a Chicago writer. He reads one book before starting another. He occasionally re-reads books but is careful not to add these to the total. Coulter experiences no eyestrain, he said.

He pulled out a few favorites including “The Prince of Darkness” by Robert D. Novak, a journalist and conservative political commentator born in Joliet.

“It was so controversial,” Coulter said of Novak’s 2007 book.

Coulter often takes his reading down to a first-floor chair near the door, where he is eager to meet visitors and help them through the doors. That’s how Sarah Kreofsky of Spring Valley met him, as she delivered meals.

“He often buzzes me in, laden with food coolers, through the security doors at the High Rise,” Kreofsky said. “He’s the most committed bookworm I know. If he can get his hands on it, he will read it.”

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Source: (LaSalle) News-Tribune, http://bit.ly/1Cf7Klc

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