Reading a Book

File:Karte Venedig MK1888.png

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Reading a book is like visiting a city you’ve never been to before. The city must be glamorous in some way, if not overtly, than in the details of its construction and history, the beautiful building or courtyard that reveals itself via a quick glance aside from the street, and the story that glance implies of the building’s occupants. The city may be dirty, crime-ridden, a den of vice, but it must be intricate. It must be a navel of the world.

You are being born again. Forget whatever has come before; it’s been reduced to a reference chart, an album of old photographs. This is the best kind of culture shock; you chose it.

Reading a book is always true. You the child progress through the pages. You learn and you grow, you marvel and you despair. Situations arise that you can’t understand or even comprehend. The woman who tells you she runs the large school you attend may be your mother. The man wearing the jacket of a naval captain may be your father. He may be going to his death. He gives you a silver coin.

Reading a book is like falling in love. Serendipity. Somebody is waiting for you, someone who stops you in argument or conversation. Outside the chocolate shop, at the old library, in an empty room. Someone calls out from an open window, asking about the bicycle you’re riding or offering to take you where you’re going in their boat. They are the person you can’t believe is interested in you, so different, so crazy you wonder how they can exist at all. They are the one who brought you here.

You are dying. You have no family, no friends, no work. You have only this passion.

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MapGerman map of Venice (1888). This image comes from the 4th edition of Meyers Konversationslexikon (1885–90). WikiCmns; Public Domain.

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  1. March 24, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Congrats! I liked it so much. I woud like to be beguiled by the serendipity in my next travel. Thanks.

    • March 27, 2014 at 8:04 pm

      maite; gracias…the fragmentary status of my Spanish won’t permit more, but certainly serendipity is important. RT

  2. aubrey
    March 27, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Absolutely – entering a book is like being engulfed by a strange new city’s walls. I’m reading a biography of Henry VIII right now, and it is a marvelous thing to wander through the danger and richness of his court…while in my 21st century apartment, with the gray, modern world outside knocking on my door.

    • April 7, 2014 at 11:23 pm

      aubrey: we’re all looking for an escape from modern ugliness; maybe beauty and happy endings will come back into style… RT

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