I was in the airport waiting. I was in that post-security pre-flight zone, airworld, when I realized I’d short changed myself on reading materials for the flight, for my trip. I’d recently installed Overdrive, the app my public library uses for their digital collections, on my phone. Using Sea-Tac’s free wifi, I downloaded maybe half a dozen books, some of them audio, to my phone. My favorite was probably Peter Mattheissen’s “The Tree Where Man Was Born”, an amazing book about travels in Africa. I listened to it in my tent nearly every night while I traveled through Tanzania. To have this book at hand and to be in Africa at the same time, traveling through the same landscape that Mattheissen so beautifully describes in his book was magical. I was also way psyched that I could grab that stuff over the air for free while hanging out in Sea-Tac’s lofty main terminal; I felt like I was living in a science fiction future full of privilege and book nerds.
My favorite book has always, always, been Alice in Wonderland, though I love The Phantom Tollbooth, too. I’ve read 100 Years of Solitude maybe a dozen times, and I’m also very fond of Timothy Egan’s The Good Rain, a beauty of a book about the Pacific Northwest. I was a Lord of the Rings tween (a habit a college friend says leads to pot smoking, whereas Watership Down led to more wholesome playing outside). Now, because it’s what I love to write, I read travel narrative. I love to hate Paul Theroux for what I suspect is misogyny, though his writing, oh, it’s brilliant. I swoon for Pico Iyer, his keen observations and ability to catch that aggravating, wonderful sense of disconnect (I recommend The Global Citizen), and I’ve been reading bits of Susan Orlean’s essays, My Kind of Place. Susan Orlean also wrote The Orchid Thief, a book I really enjoyed, though the movie irked me something fierce. Books, oh, I love them, and I am so excited when I have the time to really read. I can not imagine a life without books.