Those of us who have been true readers all our life seldom fully realise the enormous extension of our being which we owe to authors. We realise it best when we talk with an unliterary friend. He may be full of goodness and good sense but he inhabits a tiny world. In it, we should be suffocated. The man who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison. My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others. Reality, even seen through the eyes of many, is not enough. I will see what others have invented….
[I]n reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.
Thanks to my friend Polaris, a voracious reader and gifted writer, for posting this same quote on her blog.
My favorite place to meet friends, say, before we head off to watch a movie or have dinner, is the bookstore. It seems the bookstore is the only place where I don’t mind waiting longer than I should for friends arriving late because of traffic, overtime work, a coup d’etat, or any one of 101 reasons.
In fact, I usually make it a point to come earlier than the meeting time so I can browse more books. And if I chance upon a really good read (which usually comes with a price tag that promptly reduces my love for reading to mere infatuation and hopeful pining), I secretly wish my friend would come much later so I could cover as many pages as possible.
On one such waiting and browsing episode, I gravitated towards the travel section. I’m quite the late bloomer, both reading- and travel-wise, so travel books have only been a recent delight. I took notice of a particular book that had for its cover a view through an airplane window; it’s titled The Art of Travel, by Alain de Botton. Part of my marketing job is directing and evaluating book cover art, and so I was drawn to Botton’s book because of its cover – a strong one, I must say. The topic seemed interesting as well, and the back cover blurb hooked me:
“…Few activites seem to promise us as much happiness as going travelling: taking off for somewhere else, somewhere far from home, a place with more interesting weather, customs and landscapes. But although we are inundated with advice on where to travel to, we seldom ask why we go and how we might become more fulfilled by doing so….”