Friday, July 13, 2012

Literary Wanderlust

There are as many reasons to read as there are books in the world. Some people read to learn something new, or confirm something they already knew. Some people read out of obligation to school or work. Some people read to pass the time, or to get caught up in a thrilling plot. Some people read what is trendy, the bestsellers, what their friends tell them they just have to pick up. And some people read because they feel as if there are a thousand other lives inside them, lost lives they never lived and never will, and to read is to escape their own body for just a little while, and peek into another life.

That last one is me today.

I find myself in these moods where I feel like there is so little that I’ve experienced, that any one person has experienced, and I need to step into someone else’s skin. Or several people’s skin. These moods can be triggered by anything at any time-- a song on the radio, an article on the internet, a sound or a smell or a color that reminds me of being somewhere and someone else. I feel the urge to jump from body to body, and live every life I was never born into. I become fascinated with certain times and places (for instance, this morning I heard a Woody Guthrie song and wanted to go find my fortune in California in 1930), and the only way to satisfy this strange kind of wanderlust is to read until I’m full up and want to come home.

And it does happen eventually. Sometimes it takes longer than other times (I’d much rather stay in the wild of Alaska for a while than in 1970s Vietnam), but there’s no place like home. 

(Image: "Man on a Ladder" by Quint Buchholz)


Linda K. said...

I love wandering vicariously thru literary adventure! Some of my favorites are stories about Mount Everest such as, Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, or accounts of the treks of George Mallory, and Sir Edmund Hillary. I know I'll never climb Everest, but it's amazing to read about people who have made the effort.

Claire said...

I love the idea of having a thousand other lives inside you. What a beautifully tragic thought.

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