Reading is a magical experience; the pages of good books pull us in like magnets, and only the stern necessity of sleep can persuade us that it’s time to re-emerge.
As beguiling as it is to wander, and to linger in the other realities created for us by clever authors, do you ever wonder what makes it so?
Where do I dream of going…?
When would I love to see…?
There’s no place or time I can’t experience by slipping in between the covers of a good book.
I once saw a fancy bathtub ad in a magazine; a woman luxuriating in a glamorous soaker tub silhouetted against a huge window. The caption to this alluring image said,
“Therapy is expensive and vacations are scarce. Choose your tub wisely.”
Being the kind of person to have cold feet from about October until May each year, I am a proponent of relaxing in a hot bath before bed. But I almost never immerse myself in that happy place without a book. It would be akin to arriving at an airport without a passport; an exercise in futility. Naturally, my books become rather wrinkled from the steam but this hardly matters. They’re fulfilling their destiny.
I’m not alone in seeing books as passports for world travel, tickets into steam-filled booths for transporting myself to other places and times.
Consider Lucy Pevensey, C.S.Lewis’ fearless character from The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe…. Millions of readers have turned the pages, stepping with her through the doors of the magic wardrobe into the fantasy land of Narnia.
How about J.R.R.Tolkien’s Hobbit? When we crack the cover of his epic tale, we are passing with this very relatable character through the round door of his cozy abode ‘in a hole in the ground’, and onward to the ends of Middle Earth.
And… that’s about the end of my fantasy repertoire.
On to real places and times…!
Honestly, I find it far more tempting to hop on a train with Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, or to step through the sombre doors of a manor house swathed in mystery and mourning with Agatha Christie’s intrepid Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot.
I can never resist the appeal of trekking across field and farm with Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet or Fanny Price between country estate dwellings a couple centuries ago.
I don’t even try to avoid following Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit into debtor’s prison, any more than I’d consider failing to accompany Lucie Manette across the English Channel to find her long-lost father in Revolutionary Paris between the leaves of A Tale of Two Cities.
I’ve even endured the hopelessness and terror of having stepped up the gangplank with Herman Melville’s Captain Ahab on a whaling ship after the notorious Moby Dick, borne the seemingly endless struggle to survive after drifting ashore with Daniel DeFoe’s Robinson Crusoe, and journeyed back and forth between the mansions of aristocratic Russians and the battlefields of Waterloo in Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace.
(In all honesty, I can’t recommend the last three very highly. I made myself read them because I wanted the education, even if it occurred in a bathtub rather than a lecture hall. But, to each her own.)
I held on tight, (too scared to do otherwise) while scaling the city walls of Paris with Cosette on the broad back of Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo’s incomparable Les Miserables. I even went willingly into the ancient sewers with him, so intent was I on being there to witness the impossibly heroic rescue of her beloved Marius…
Do tell…! Which of these stories have you read, (and which ones did you actually enjoy? 😉
Also, which other books have provided you with such exhilarating travel opportunities?
Thank you for reading with me,