Have I told you guys about another huge passion of mine besides traveling?
If someone asked me right now the definition of passion, I’m not sure I could give them a solid answer. What exactly does it mean to have a passion? I guess I think of a passion as something that a person loves so much that they would do it even if no one was offering them any money for it. Like some people have a passion for skiing, and even though they are not being paid to professionally ski, they willingly drive miles and miles to reach a mountain so they can feel the freedom that comes with flying through the snow. The lucky people, I think, are those who are able to turn their passion into a career where they are able to make money and pursue what they love.
I remember visiting my Grandma a few years back in Indiana, and this idea of passions was brought up. My Aunt turned to me mid-conversation and asked me if I had any passions. Something that I probably had to write an essay on every year in Elementary school was now a question that I had not thought about in a while. What exactly are my passions? The two that immediately come to mind are traveling and… reading! I’m completely in love with both, could talk about dream trips and favorite novels for hours, and will do both fervently my entire life even if neither activities offer me any money. You guys hopefully have a pretty good idea of how much I love to travel, but reading is a passion I haven’t talked about at all, so here goes!
Ok there’s actually not too much to say, but I wanted to share with you all three of my favorite novels, and why they’re so freaking awesome (especially for us travelers)!
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Oh this book, this beautiful beautiful book. It came quietly into my life when I was living in LA, working my way through a list of novels I found online that were recommended by various famous authors. Christian Kiefer, author of The Infinite Tides, quoted Bel Canto as his favorite book, so I read his novel first, and then started in on his suggestion. Immediately Bel Canto rocketed to the top of my all time favorite books. It is a uniquely stunning story that is written eloquently and with the utmost care by Ann Patchett. To summarize the novel briefly, it is the tale of a group of people (mostly strangers) who are taken hostage together, and details the emotional journey and bonds that form between the captives, and their captors. The prose is magical, it is musical, it is, quite simply, stunning. It made me wonder about all the people I see everyday passing me in the streets that I never think to talk to, but that I might deeply care about if I were ever forced into a tense situation where I had to interact with them. I pondered what priorities of mine would change if I were trapped in a room I could not escape, with no way of going to work, dealing with daily responsibilities, what activities would I pursue? What questions would I ask myself and those around me? What would occupy my mind with no television to watch, no computer to play around with? With a perfectly bittersweet ending, Bel Canto does not disappoint.
This book is perfect for travelers because… The hostages (and their captors) hail from all over the world, meaning most do not speak each others language. They participate in diverse customs and have a variety of distinctive ideas. It is fascinating to watch the characters cope with these differences, at the same time discovering that they are more alike than originally believed. This is, of course, a perfect parallel to the traveler, who explores lands much different that her own, and must learn to deal with these differences, often discovering there are more similarities between herself and others than what first met the eye.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Somewhere tucked away in a pocket of my mind lives the fantasy of running away and joining a magical circus. Erin Morgenstern made this dream come alive for me in her fantastical debut novel, The Night Circus. Another book I loved so much I cherished every page, every paragraph, every word, not wanting this delicious piece of literature to ever end. The circus and it’s eclectic characters are mystical, as is the entire book, and you are taken on a journey that precedes time, experiencing the circus and all it’s glory throughout history. A beautifully written story with memorable characters that allowed me to completely abandon reality to enter a whimsical world with an enchanting circus, and experience a boy and a girl fall deeply and magically in love. I cannot recommend this book enough, it will take you on a journey you didn’t dare believe even existed.
This book is perfect for travelers because… I believe many of us travel to find exotic and mysterious lands that make us experience feelings we have never felt before, to make us feel a million miles away from home, like we have stepped into another world altogether. I believe this is also why many of us read. The Night Circus is just the book for capturing those sensations and emotions us travelers crave, and you get to experience them without even leaving your couch.
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
And finally, my all-time favorite book, written by an immensely talented author, I think you may have heard of her, J.K. Rowling. Of course I was well aware of Ms. Rowling’s dazzling imagination having feverishly read each and every Harry Potter book the moment it was released, but what I had not fully grasped was how freaking awesome just her writing is. Take away Hogwarts, take away Voldemort, take away Quittage, and magical spells, and witches and wizards, and you are left with the realization that J.K. Rowling could decide to write a story about a quiet little town in England, and it would be the most brilliant piece of literature you have ever read. I know this because that’s exactly what happened to me after I read The Casual Vacancy! The book follows the adventures of a vast number of characters, so many that it’s actually quite overwhelming in the beginning to remember everyone’s name and backstory, but trust in Rowling’s writing and know by the end you will feel as if you have known these characters your entire life. Characters include both an older generation, and also their high school children. Some characters are written in first person, others in second person, offering you a unique relationship with each and every one. Rowling jumps around a lot in her narrations, which is cool because you are able to experience a scene from a variety of perspectives. A seemingly ordinary story, but fantastically written with characters that jump off the page and straight into your heart.
This book is perfect for travelers because… it reminds us that beautiful adventures happen at home too. Although we enter strange lands to experience the excitement of traveling and meeting fresh new faces and unique personalities, comedies and tragedies have been written in our hometowns too. Sometimes as travelers we forget this, and The Casual Vacancy is a good reminder.
And there you have it! I’m still trying to figure out this whole blogging thing, and when I was playing around with formatting yesterday I discovered that I can link my Goodreads account to this blog! So if you’re interested in what I am currently reading, please check out the sidebar to find out!
Traveling and reading (and maybe writing?) are some of my passions, I would LOVE to hear about all of YOUR amazing passions! Please leave me a comment, what gets you pulse racing? What could you talk about for days on end? What would you continue to do even if you never made any money from it? SHOUT YOUR PASSION MY FRIENDS!!!
In case this blog post isn’t long enough, here are a few more books that I just love…
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
The World According to Garp by John Irving
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
(It was REALLY hard for me to pick my three favorite books to share with you guys so I had to add some more here at the end! The Forgotten Garden is another book that I got completely lost in while reading, the writing is brilliant. Her Fearful Symmetry has elements of the supernatural which is quite cool, and it takes place in England, which made me fantasize about moving there the entire time I was reading. John Irving is my favorite author, so I’d recommend all of his books, but The World According to Garp is especially feminist, which is awesome. And Kate Atkinson is probably my second favorite author, her books would be classified as crime fiction, but they are written in a literary style, with excellent character development. And all are great books for us travelers!)
I hate including book summaries, they’ve been written over and over again by people much more talented than I, I’d rather offer you my own unique impressions! If you’re interested in a summery, click the link I provided for each book, it will send you right to the novel’s Goodreads page!
profound crazy/funny/weird thoughts and opinions are entirely my own, it’s just how I roll