The Places We Find Ourselves
When I escape into a book, where do I go? Whether I enter a wardrobe and come out into a snowy land of talking animals, or take a bite of a madeleine and visit Combray, when I read I go somewhere.
2. Boarding schools. Some of my favorite books (Jane Eyre, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist) have explored the abuse of power and potential for corruption inherent in the closed environment of the boarding school. The school in Jane Eyre, Lowood, was based on an actual school where Charlotte Bronte's sister died due to the appalling conditions.
3. Institutes and asylums fascinate me for the same reason. Strange things happen in these closed environments. Sometimes, as in Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain, patients who are cured don't want to leave the safety of their hothouse environment.
4. The Garden is another suggestive place. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett beautifully exploits the richly suggestive themes of an enclosed and secret garden.
5. The Imaginary World Beyond the Wardrobe. As a child I was enthralled by the idea that you could pass a threshold and move from one world to another. As an adult I know that's what's known as "a book."
6. Into the Future. Dystopia is a place I love to visit. Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake allow me to think about the possible and the unspeakable.
7. Somewhere in Another Galaxy. Outer space lets us think about inner space. I'm not a huge science fiction fan, but sometimes I want to go on an intergalactic voyage. A Wrinkle in Time was a childhood favorite, and I still think about that book sometimes.
8. Wyoming. Annie Proulx writes with stark simplicity about the people of Wyoming. Makes me want to grab my cowboy hat.
9. Canada. Alice Munro's stories are firmly rooted in her home country. True, the small towns and fox farms of Ontario don't get much tourist traffic, but I feel that I know the landscape through her stories.
10. The Geography of the Imagination. You have to admire the audacity of writers who spin a tale that revolves around a place they've visited only in their imaginations. Franz Kafka never visited the United States, but that didn't prevent him from inventing Amerika in his imagination.
I love the women of The Broke and the Bookish for coming up with a new Top Ten every week.
Where do you travel when you read?