Friday, July 7, 2017

Escape to The Library

The other day, I spent three hours in the library because I had some loose time before I attended a friend's goodbye party. Those hours were one of the few moments of real comfort and serenity I felt in a long time. I was reminded of the joy of scanning shelves brimming with books, all titles whispering for me to pick them up. The books had that ageless smell promising adventure and knowledge.
So I spent the first hour reading a book called Sweet Invention, which was about the history of desert. I skimmed through the introduction then jumped directly the Baklava section, Baklava being my favorite desert of all times.

With ease and lightness, the minutes passed and I enjoyed each word I read sitting on a comfortable chair at the library in a calm but not quiet atmosphere. I can hear people talk, whisper. I can hear the muted fall of footsteps and the subtle whoosh of books being picked up or put down. The constant humming of the conveyer belt of the book returning stations was adding to the subtle breath of the library making me feel alive and safe in its belly.
I left Sweet Invention and went to the fiction section on the first floor. Rows upon rows of books filled with adventure mystery, love and outer worlds impossible to reach except through their pages. While each was inviting, my movement was not aimless between the rows. I had a purpose.
Since I recently finished reading All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka , my attraction to the japanese culture flamed again. I remembered the endless hours watching anime, reading manga and eating ramen. These events occurred regardless of the age or the situation I was in. Japan fascinates me and so my quest that day in the library was for their most famous international author: Haruki Murakami. I started my search in the english section, finding M, then Mur but I wasn’t able to find Murakami. The books skipped directly to Munro. While Alice Munro novels can never be a wrong choice when you want to read fiction, it was not what the avid reader inside me craved. So I moved to the french section, where I restarted my methodic search for M, then Mur and finally, a smile spread on my face, I found Murakami. His big novels stood out first but I skipped those titles not even registering their names, I quickly found their much thinner counter parts. I had two choices but the green and gold of les attaques à la boulangerie enchanted me. And so I took this little book and sat at the nearest couch. I tucked my legs under me and placed the short novel on the armchair and devoured. Surprisingly the story itself was about a man and a woman hungry, ready to do anything to eat echoing my hunger for books. The huge void of hunger that they felt took them on a path they did not expect. The second part of the story was also fueled with hunger but the setting took them to a McDonalds instead of a bakery. At the end of the book I was feeling happy and content. I think the feeling did not come from the story itself, because the story was simply bizarre, but it came from the fact that I spent the last hours immersed in it. While reading, I didn’t feel the weight of responsibility, the need to be somewhere or do something or be someone. I was me, here in the moment with nothing better than to live in Murakami’s universe until I finish reading the last word.

On my way back home from the party, I stopped at the McDonald’s in front of my bus stop. I found myself wondering if the hungry couple from the story would come to this store. I smiled. It was impossible, but the magic of reading always leads my brain to wonder and paint my reality with the boundless imagination of the written word. Picking up my Oreo latté order, I went back to wait for the bus, resuming my ordinary life and still delighted with the day’s escape to the library.  

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