“I call them ‘Foods from the Public Domain.'” Percy said. “We can trade on terms with excellent market penetration without having to pay royalties of any kind!”

With a flourish, he unveiled the placards at the head of the board room.

“Don Quixote’s Darn Quick Oaties: Nourishing microwavable whole oat cereal for the all-day energy to take on any windmill!”

“Daniel Dafoe’s Robinson Croutons: A fresh Caribbean island paradise salad, good for every day of the week, not just Friday!”

“Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peas: Heart-healthy legumes with a generous helping of spice to ward off the bite of General Winter!”

A good book is like a fine meal. Every bit you take only increases your enjoyment , and although you’re curious what dessert is at the end, you’re sorry to finish it since you know nothing can compare to that first taste, even if you sit down to the same meal again.

Some people are gourmets, carefully savoring the taste as they consume the portions in their proper order. Others are gluttons, choking tomes down as fast as they’ll go, sometimes even starting with the dessert first.

Me, I’m a glutton who likes his desserts. The first thing I read will invariably be the last chapter of the book. My literary-minded friends find this heretical, but for me the focus has always been the journey, not the destination. And there’s always the chance that things will go differently, and that the ending I read at the beginning won’t be the one I arrive at when the book is finished.

I remember the first time that happened…