An Unopened Letter To All Those Who Have Ever Borrowed a Book From Me….

Once upon a time there was a book.

The book appeared sometime between the Christmas my sister left for Germany, and the Summer I sat my Junior Certificate exams, without any prior warning, introduction or presentation. It was in her room one day when I went on a routine snoop around the house, restless teenager that I was, friendless and desperate to expend my energies on anything that didn’t involve Maths or Business Studies spreadsheets.
I don’t want to mention titles or authors for fear of this becoming a review-like piece of writing, but despite it’s gloomy and untelling cover, this book was possibly the most incredible thing my young and impressionable brain had ever taken in. I say this whilst coolly glossing over the likes of Harry Potter, my copies of which were even then becoming dog-eared and tattered from overuse.
But this book was incredible. It was one of those can’t-put-down, mind-opening, read-in-a-day kind of novels that only find their way to you once in a blue moon, and stay with you for much, much longer. I’m fairly sure it was one of the first novels to ever have such an effect on me. I still remember a lot of the little details that made it so intriuging – clearly even the fact that I’m writing this about it now says it all.

I haven’t read this book in over 7 years, yet I am still willing to bet that it is up there with my top 5 of all-time.
Thing is, I can’t test this theory, because shortly after reading it and being exposed to the newness of such a thrilling read for what was possibly the first time, I made the mistake of lending it to a friend in school, and she has yet to return it. So excited was I to be able to share such an experience that I’m fairly sure I forced the book upon this particular friend, insistant that she read it and thus creating an outlet for myself to which I could express my love and fascination. I ignored the fact that she seemed extremely disinterested and agreed to take it purely to humour me.

 I stopped asking after a week or two had she finished it. Or even started it. I gradually realised that my fascination with it was something that possibly would not be experienced by everyone, let alone someone I had forced it upon.
I was patient.
About three years later, finding myself at a bit of a reunion-gathering in this friend’s house, I completely innocently spotted the book in amongst a lot of other books on a shelf that looked like it hadn’t been touched in …well…about 3 years. Saying nothing, I wondered silently what to do. I hated the thought of an awkward conversation asking for its’ return, yet my rightful ownership and burning desire to read it again got the better of me.
‘Is that my book? Have you read it yet?’
She hadn’t.
For some reason, we laughed about it, and agreed that she could keep it that bit longer in the hopes of her eventually getting around to reading it.

That conversation took place a few years ago, and is the reason I’ve just ordered another copy of the book on Amazon. I’m looking forward to reading it again and seeing was it worth all the fuss!

I don’t mind lending people books – in fact, I quite like doing it, sharing any quality reads is really a nice thing to do sometimes. But I’ve started writing my name on the books that I actually invest in and buy, just in case they find themselves in the hands of someone who forgets where they came from.

Why a Book is the Greatest Travel Companion….

There’s something about being in motion and physically moving from one place to another that calms my mind and helps me achieve a sense of purpose. No matter the distance, whether on a bus, train, plane, or even a car, travelling fills me with the excitement of possibility, of change and progression, and the knowledge that absolutely nothing stays the same no matter how long you sit still.
I’m also a book hoarder. I’ll admit it. I have an addiction to buying books. If I’m in a bookshop and I see something that’s even mildly interesting or is on sale at a special price it is very difficult to prevent myself from spending hard-earned money on it, even though I’m more than likely already halfway through and just barely started up to about 5 other volumes of completely unrelated material. One of my favourite things to do in an airport is to buy a new book, even if my hand luggage is already over-capacity with the stash I’ve brought from home.
Ironic really, considering that my sister works in a library.
She’s berated me on many occasions for buying books she could source easily within a few days, and simply refuses to see that it’s ok to take them on trips around the world, even provided you return them safe and sound afterwards. I like to see my library card as a passport for a book to be taken away, often wondering as I stand at a shelf how many of the books around me contain grains of sand from faraway beaches, dried pages from a spillage during turbulence, or coffee stains from cafés in bustling cities.

When I read, my brain takes a trip. Something in my mind just clicks, and I end up tapping in to the unquenched wanderlust that’s incessantly telling me to travel, the need to move and see things and go places I’ve never been. If travel is unavailable to me at that time, the book generally does the job and lets me expend some of the mental energy on experiencing the pages of the story, while my body remains stationary.

When I travel, my body physically being transported from one place to another, or even without any fixed destination, it’s my mind that needs to be stilled and brought back down to earth and into the two feet that make this mobility possible. By reading whilst traveling, I enter into this state of calmness and togetherness, the need to move and the need for mental stimulation both being met in a coffee buzz of contented existance. Not only am I aware of being physically transported through new locations and grounds, but my mind is also being taken on a journey through the pages of whatever novel I’ve chosen for the journey (I do have preferences, mind you -I’m not the kind of book-junkie that will read just about anything, but for the purpose of this post there’s not much need for specifics).

While travel companions vary from journey to journey, trip to trip and place to place, there are few transportation methods and systems on which a book is not a compatible match. It makes solo travel all the more enjoyable, while also providing an escape from the pressures of 2-hour-conversations with strange Dutch men with pinstriped trousers purely because he happened to sit beside you on the bus and you don’t know how to stop replying to his incessant questions.

I’m currently compiling a list of books I wish to read this Summer, and to be honest seeing the stack of them pile up in front of me and knowing some of them must be returned to the safety of their library shelves within a set amount of time puts a kind of exciting pressure of me to travel and utilise their power while I can. Thank God for online re-issuing!

So Much Left To Do.

There are so many things I want to do.

I want to read. Books from long ago. Books from last week. Books that mean things and books that don’t.

I want to travel everywhere and SEE as much as I can while I am young and my body is able.

I want to write songs and stories and translate what’s inside my head into something solid or audible and beautiful.

I want to take care of my body and ensure that it will last long enough to do everything I want it to do, and take me where I want to go.

I want to experience life in places I haven’t yet been able to. There is so much more to the world outside of Dublin.  I have been on top of mountains in the Alps, and seen the sunrise from an island in Lake Victoria. There is so much more.

I want to love and be loved, but do so without losing myself in the process.

I want to strengthen this new-found courage, this sense of self that has begun to appear, and use it to help others who are disappearing.

I want to work and live for ME, instead of for somebody else.

I want to let myself take opportunities that are presented to me, and give myself a chance to make something out of them, even if it seems at first that I won’t.

I want to be able to do the difficult lifting poses in yoga.

I want to learn to speak French and Italian.

I want to sleep.