My Books. My Life.

"Let us read and let us dance – two amusements that will never do any harm to the world." ~Voltaire~

Books and the Good Life: New Places/Things April 3, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michelle @ 1:22 pm

This post is about all of the new places we can "visit" in books.

The more that you read,
the more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
the more places you'll go.

~Dr. Seuss~

 

Books
can take us anywhere and everywhere.  St. Augustine said, “The
world is a book, those who do not travel read only a page.”  But the opposite is true as well.  Those who do not read see only a small part
of the world that books open up to us.  I
can go from 1920s Paris to modern day New York City; from the made-up world of Hogwarts to 19th
century Russia; from rural Afghanistan to rural Alabama all without leaving my living
room.  Sometimes I even forget that I
have not actually been to any of these places. 
I still think that when I finally get to Paris,
it will be the Paris of Hemingway and Dorothy Parker, not the Paris of today.

Much
of the world is poor and will never have the opportunities to travel that many
of us have.  Books can be an affordable
way to expose people to the rest of the world. 
I was watching a documentary this summer which said that there are many
children in San Francisco
who have never seen the ocean.  The
farthest you can be from the ocean in San
Francisco is 7 miles and $1.50 bus ride.  If even these kids are not seeing the ocean,
how can we hope for anyone else?  We
might be able to arrange a field trip for the San Franciscan children, but for
the others, giving them a book about the ocean is probably the most
cost-effective way of sharing it with them.

One
thing that I’ve found when reading books of different cultures is that people
are remarkably similar no matter where or when they live.  Most themes are universal.  Writers are telling the same story
everywhere.  This makes the world seem
smaller and more accessible.  I can
understand the pain and happiness of people who live in a much different place
from me.  They still love, laugh, and
cry.  Books not only open up the world to
us, but they show us the common threads of humanity.

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3 Responses to “Books and the Good Life: New Places/Things”

  1. Maria Says:

    W. Somerset Maugham said "Those are the best journeys, the journeys that you take at your own fireside, for then you lose none of your illusions."
    I too sometimes forget I haven't really visited the places I've read about. And of course, I am convinced they are just the way I imagined them to be when I was reading about them!

  2. Jennifer Says:

    Good post. Reading is my escape, and while books are getting ever more expensive, it's surely cheaper to read a book than to actually get on a plane. And reading about a place can serve to pique my interest about it, so I will strive to make it there someday. So reading is good for the economy too! Er. Logic isn't my strong point…

  3. Kristie Says:

    Both of those quotes you used are some that I have–they're written on the front of the notebooks I keep my reading journals in :o) How funny! I agree totally with what you're saying. That's why I started that "Where Have You Been in Books?" thread on the bookclub. It's so interesting to see where people have been in books and what they thought.


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