Sunday, November 20, 2016

Books = Hope

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness,
and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. 
Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things
cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."
-- Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad, 1869

I have often referred to Twain's excellent quote in my books, as have many other writers, and I was reminded of its significance when I read this article, 'Travel is Love, Travel is Hope' in a Condé Nast Traveler update, which is among the best pieces I've read since the election.  
Another good passage I read appeared in a trade publication called Bookselling This Week, in which American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher wrote, "As this bitterly contested election comes to a close -- regardless of which candidate you supported -- it's clear that we live in a terribly divided country.  The role bookstores play in healing division has never been more important.  As citizens, attempting to comprehend what has occurred, all of us in the bookselling community have a special obligation -- and opportunity -- to foster communication and to help reconcile our communities.  President-elect Trump, Secretary Clinton, and President Obama have all indicated that the time to unite our country is now, and there is no better place than within the walls of a bookstore for that process to begin." 

And reading this made me think of something I wrote in the Introduction to En Route: A Journal and Touring Companion for Inspired Travelers, in which I mentioned a book that really did change my life to a degree: a little-known James Michener novel, The Fires of Spring.  Early on in the book, one of the characters, Daniel, says to the young boy, "Reading and travel are the two best things besides people.  Travel is best, but some books are very great.  You should read all the books you can get before you're twenty.  If you don't need glasses by the time you're thirty, you can consider your life wasted.  Maybe books are best, because you don't have to have money to read.  And there's this difference, too.  A man can travel all over the world and come back the same kind of fool he was when he started.  You can't do that with books."      

Books = hope 


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