Monday, July 25, 2011
Reading Opens Doors to Travel
July 25, 2011
While reading can be an imaginative escape for me it has more often than not become an open door to real destinations. And so it is fitting that the 2011 Summer Reading theme is about travel and experiencing other cultures in the world.
This past weekend my family and I visited Chincoteague and Assateague Islands in Virginia where wild ponies have been protected in a National Wildlife Refuge for more than 100 years. One wild pony in particular became well known after author Marguerite Henry wrote the children’s book Misty of Chincoteague in 1947 at Miss Molly’s Inn there. Just up the street at the Island Roxy Movie Theater you can still see Misty’s hoof prints in the front sidewalk. Misty actually attended the book’s 1962 movie premiere.
Like a lot of little girls in the 1960s I remember reading about Misty and the other wild ponies that live on the islands. I dreamed of visiting one day and many years later shared my love of the story with my children.
Hundreds of tourists still flock to see the home of Misty and the subsequent generations of wild ponies that continue to live there and take the annual swim to auction every July.
At the same time I was living my “Misty” experience I sat on the beach and read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and “walked” through yet another door, this time it led me to Sweden. I have never been there but the story (which is set in Sweden) gave me some glimpses of Swedish culture I had not “seen” before, such as typical lunch fare being herring and pickle sandwiches!
But before I start planning any trips to Sweden I am hoping to visit the Missouri home of another popular author from my childhood, Laura Ingall’s Wilder. I am keeping a list.
While books can lead to travels, travels can lead to books. I recently read At the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolfe because of a trip I am planning to Cornwall, England. I had learned that the legendary author had spent her childhood summers here and had written this book as a semi-autobiographical account of one such summer. My plans prompted an opportunity to experience a well-known author I had not read before and to learn more about my destination. I also picked up an interesting French recipe from the book and plan to give that a try just for fun.
Some people might see reading as a passive activity, but for the curious mind it can be anything but passive.
Stop by the library and open your own doors to the world around you!