The Magic of Time Travel  

Monday Author: Susanne Skinner

clock faces, dialsAnyone can time travel – all it takes is a library card.  A book can take you anywhere you want to go using the magic of words on a page – or a tablet if you are a new-age reader.  I’m old fashioned in my preference for the feel of a book and the cadence of turning pages; though I’ve embraced audio books to offset my drive to work.

The stress of a long commute is easily resolved with a good story.  Having a book read to you holds reminiscences of childhood and grown-up discoveries of nuances and inflection that might be missed in a hardcover version.  Audio readers are gifted actors who lend their talents and voices to a story; bringing added dimension to the characters and settings.  Two recent books I enjoyed had several characters voiced with foreign accents, bringing them to life in an unexpected and meaningful way.  Nothing like sitting in the office parking lot until you get to the end of the chapter!

When you open a book, you open your mind.  The world beyond our doorstep is an adventure that anyone can participate in through reading.  Subjects beckon you; inviting you to see through the lens and imagination of the author.  Books are one of the best ways to educate, entertain, enlighten and challenge ourselves. It’s time travel, bound with a cover.

Read a Book

I grew up in a home filled with books and magazines because my parents were avid readers.  My Dad focused on world history and current affairs while mom loved fiction and medical journals that kept her nursing skills current.   She read to all of us and when we were old enough to read on our own there were plenty of books available.  If we complained of boredom or nothing to do she had a regular admonition that went something like “I don’t want to hear it – go read a book.”  And we did.   Our family even had a set of encyclopedias – complete with annual yearbooks – and many a school project began with the parental directive to “go look it up”.   Life before Google was the library card catalog and the encyclopedias in our living room bookcase.

It was a simpler time then – no technology distracting us or competing for our attention.  We didn’t have a television so I counted on books to open the door to the fantasy of time travel.  A well-written book can take you back to the dawn of mankind and into the farthest reaches of outer space without ever leaving the room.

book, open bookMagic in the Library

A visit to the library is all it takes to transport you to places you’ve never been and will never go.   Reading has taken me to the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, on the journeys of Odysseus and as recently as last week, the surface of Mars. Each of these places is impossible for me to reach and yet, through the magic of reading, I’ve been to all of them.

I have entered the White House with the Secret Service, been a voyeur through the reign of the Tudors, and gotten to know the witches and vampires that live among us today.  Last week I was with the astronaut left for dead on a failed Mars mission and this week I am stealing books with Liesel during the Nazi siege of Germany.

Going to the library was an adventure when we were kids, and it’s still a regular stop on my Saturday excursions.  My love of books began with my parents but once I was hooked there was additional encouragement from a very special librarian who also became a dear friend.

Mary Colucci and I met in high school; I was a new student in a foreign country, she was our school librarian.  We had a great library, especially for a high school, and Mary is an awesome librarian.  She made the library feel like a wonderful place for a geeky 16 year old to find sanctuary, acceptance…and books.

My unfulfilled dream of football cheerleader was mitigated in the library, where I could lose myself in a book or library club volunteer work.  My friendship with Mary (I called her Mrs. Colucci back then) nurtured my love of reading and developed skills for research that I would use often in the years ahead.  I was a well prepared college freshman thanks to her guidance; having read most of the classics during my high school years

Each year I assign myself a summer reading project that challenges me to read a book I find difficult, or have attempted but never completed.  I try to see them through to the end though one summer the 44-disc set of Anna Karenina nearly did me in.  Tolstoy and I commuted together for weeks and by disc 39 I was begging Anna to die and be done with it. Not every book is enjoyable but some of them feel like they should be ready anyway.   This summer is no exception as I once again try to finish Ayn Rand’s magnum opus Atlas Shrugged.

book clubJoin the Club   

I belong to two book clubs, and by that I don’t mean a group of women who get together to drink wine.  That’s a different club.   My real time book club is through the town library.  We are intergenerational (great for group discussions) and meet monthly to share our opinions on the book we have chosen.   These book lovers challenge me with authors and subjects I would never consider if left to my own selection process.  I also belong to a 200-member on-line book club, sharing a broad range of reading tastes and candid commentary.   Both groups keep me supplied with a diverse list of recommendations and the promise of continued time travel.

If I could pass along one gift to my children and grandchildren it would be this.  Time travel exists – it is found in a book.  It is the most powerful magic we have and all we need to do is pick it up and read it.   You can go anywhere in the world with a book.  You are holding the magic of time travel in your hands.

“A reader lives a thousand lived before he dies.
The man who never reads lives only one.”  

George R. R. Martin

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