There’s a quote attributed to Saint Augustine of Hippo that states: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” The lesson behind that quote is that if you don’t ever go anywhere then your view of the world is limited.
I truly understand that lesson – it is important for us to see beyond our “four walls” – but so few ever really get out there and explore the world. 4 out of 10 people have never lived more than a few miles away from where they were born. Many do break away from their hometowns for job opportunities or to go to school but very few get out there to see the world. The occasional trip to a resort for a summer vacation usually doesn’t let you get to really know or learn more about the people or their culture. I have been fortunate to have traveled all around the country and even to Hawaii. But I’d really like to visit other countries, especially Europe, but the costs always seem prohibitively high.
I was born in Columbus but shortly after college I moved to Los Angeles. I wanted to be a part of the film industry. After 13 years, I became ingrained in the Californian culture. So much so, that I still consider it “home”, even though I moved back to Ohio (and now live within a few miles of where I grew up.) I miss LA nearly every single day (and not just because it’s now cold outside and snow is falling!) But I’m a better person for the experience.
With all of that said, I know many cannot travel whenever and where ever they would like – either due to the global pandemic or to due to financial or personal circumstances.
So, what is the alternative? To me… it’s reading. That is the power of books. Books carry you away to so many different destinations, both real and imagined, and allow you to meet new and diverse people and discover their cultures. Not only that, but books take you to different time periods – contemporary novels let you experience the hear-and-now while historical fiction can let you see, hear, and feel the sounds of a time long gone. A good science fiction book will transport you to the future to see what may lie ahead for you or your great-great grandchildren!
My novel The Mice Storm takes place during the 1970s in Columbus, Ohio. While I don’t really take you on a sightseeing tour of my home town, I can give you a feel for the way people looked, talked, and what they wore or ate for breakfast during that time period. It’s in a peek into a world you can’t go to anymore but I get to share what it was like to be a ten-year-old in the 70s and to come-of-age in that era.
So, while you may be stuck a home, or in your hometown, for the near (or far) future… you do have ways to escape. Find a book and go exploring, meet new people, and learn how they live and maybe survive in their hometowns. Then your view of the world won’t be quite so… limited.
What books have taken you away to magical destinations that you’d really like to visit in real life?