Just out of a matinee showing of a popular but entirely forgettable movie, my teenage daughter and I stepped into a large bookstore next to the theater and bought iced coffee. We browsed the bookshelves for a while to pass the time until the others in our family, who were seeing another movie, came to meet us. We headed first for the cookbook section, where my daughter exclaimed over one book after another, each one more desirable than the next. Cookbooks tend to be large, heavy and expensive, so we didn’t linger too long. We were on vacation in Tacoma, WA visiting relatives, and anything we bought would have to fit into our suitcases for the flight home to California. With no aim in particular, we ended up in front of a shelf of books on writing. Immediately my daughter pulled on my arm, saying that if I started looking there I’d be there for hours. She knows me well. Shrugging her hand off of my arm, I followed her toward the teen books, most of which seem to have some relation to vampires, and then passed her and went in search of something interesting for myself. High on coffee by that time, I had a strong desire to find something exciting to read. But what exactly would I find exciting? I headed to the poetry books and found several possibilities. I ended up with a thin volume of Rilke that I carried around the store for a while, until I changed my mind after reading several poems and not finding the rush of adrenaline I craved. What is it I seek in books? Escape to another world? The chance to peer into the mind of a brilliant writer? The meaning of life? Why not? Simply put, I want a book that will make me gasp. Is that too much to ask? Finally, after I gave up on finding just the right book for my mood, I found my daughter browsing a display of bargain priced books near the front of the store. I glanced down and picked up a hard cover book by the Nobel winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk. I read the preface and suddenly had the urge to pull out a pencil and underline a passage. It was just the book I needed.
tucked under my arm
the way into another world