When books collide

A happy coincidence would be reading book characters or places consequently mentioned or related to the last book I’ve read. In the image, I was reading Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson on my Nook while looking at a map of British Columbia from a page of Susan Vreeland’s The Forest Lover which was set in the same place.

Last month, I was on the first few pages of Left Turn at Paradise by Thomas Shawver reading about a forgotten memoir of a sailor who sailed with the renowned Captain Cook. Five days later, I started A Flower for the Queen by Caroline Vermalle and, lo and behold, there is Captain Cook in living flesh. It brought the stories into a different dimension reading a small part of his life riding the seas and knowing one of his men must be in some remote corner of the boat writing a journal to be discovered in the distant future.

In my readings, there also comes a dawning pause in the onslaught of familiar feelings relating to two or more books expressing odd parallels. A travel memoir about India, Sally Tisdale’s Great Buddha Gym for All Mens and Womens is one of those light-handed works, refreshing in its narrative on the delights and uncertainties of travel and spirituality. Perhaps there is something to touching the surface lightly. Though most expressions would deign to disagree, serving to encourage us to delve upon the depths of strange places and the pulse of culture. As I read this, there floats, in the outskirts of my mind, another book about India, Kanyakumari by Hazel Manuel. One character remarked about a traveler not dwelling on impressions, that she just becomes someone who leaves people behind, which was delivered in a rather sad and bittersweet note the way truths sometimes are. I might be off the tangent here but Tisdale’s writing reminded me of that passage.

It leaves me in a bit of a loss to realize I agree on both points, to see myself rather ambiguous. It is indeed important, for a deeper understanding, to embrace and seek the heart of a land or of a moment in unfamiliar grounds. On the other hand, we always return home and what we have tasted is just a blip in the entirety of this another world.


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