Unfolding Worlds: The Importance of Books in the Age of the Traveler

“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” — Joyce Carol Oates

The luxury of travel, in many cases, is used as agency to escape, explore, and absorb. Time and again, we return from our travels as changed people, carrying different frames of minds and worldly views. We often digest the unfamiliar lives and cultures we peek into to provide ourselves with wisdom, gradually building onto our knowledge with each and every flight or train we board. But sometimes, traveling is beyond our means and all we have to feed our wanderlust is what’s feasibly in our reach.


Breaking free from the “real world” isn’t necessarily only about the global coordinates you’re grounded on; it also has a lot to do with where your mind is. Do you remember the first time you fell in love? However young (and naïve) you were, where you physically stood didn’t matter—your mind was on cloud nine, along with your heart. Doing absolutely anything – and nothing – with him or her on your mind felt like a privilege, albeit not after the devastation of heartbreak. Books are similar to love in that they are perfectly transcending, moving you through space and time. With a narrative in hand, your daily commute or rainy day indoors is no longer just that: it’s a grueling battle with a giant marlin in the Gulf Stream, or an invitation to one of Jay Gatsby’s decadent parties. It’s a New York City run-in with Holden Caulfied, and a trip to the year 1984 where 2 + 2= 5. It’s an adventure with Mr. Potter and his magical pals, right after stepping out of a cold hospital room in Oklahoma with Johnny and Ponyboy. It’s staying gold.

You see, words on a page are much more than just words on a page. Like motor vehicles, books operate as modes of transportation, taking you to unknown lands with curious faces. And unlike your relationship with your smartphone, a tech-glitch or the absence of Wi-Fi doesn’t break the bond you have with your book. It’s with you, always. As Ernest Hemingway put it, “There is no friend as loyal as a book.” …And no greater travel companion.