I've been in European castles during the Middle Ages. I've listened in on conversations at major world events. I've hunted assassins, gardened in Prussia, spent an April in Italy. I've built log cabins, travelled the prairies in a covered wagon and roamed the untamed wilderness of Wyoming. I've agonized with a romantically challenged red-headed orphan in Canada, seen mercy extended in revolutionary France, listened in on the trials of marrying off a houseful of daughters to advantage.
To travel this far around the world and back in forth in time, one of course needs a magic carpet and a time machine. I have several of each.
They're called books.
I'm so thankful for literacy, my own ability to read and understand what others have written. I'm thankful for the talents and imaginations of many authors, and that they took the time to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboards and shared the fruits of their creativity and knowledge.
I value the content of books, the raw ability to transport me to another place and time, vividly describing the sights, sounds and smells.
I love old books and the workmanship they contain, so rare in today's printed copies: vellum papers over beautiful art, illustrated borders, embossed covers in now-faded colors, marbled end papers. I see inscriptions, stains, and forgotten momentos tucked within, and think of its previous owner. Did they love this book as I do?
I love my modern books dispensed in electronic format on my small, slim e-reader, a whole library in less space than a paperback, infinitely portable, ready to whisk me away from the doctor's waiting room to another place in time.
I enjoy reading the stories I read when I was younger, seeing them with a whole new perspective. I no longer identify only with Laura; I'm impressed with all Ma had to do and how difficult it all was. I finish those books with new appreciation for my modern conveniences.
My favorites are now read by my own children. Classic books are like a thread from one generation to the next, so basic in plot and emotion that each generation can still identify with it, despite the realities of their era.
We share our favorites with friends, base conversations and clubs on books. We long to see them as movies, but are always disappointed when they fail to meet the expectation of our imagination.
We count on them as escape in lines, on planes, and during quiet moments stolen from the ruckus of daily life, snuggled on the couch with a cup of steaming coffee nearby.
Ah, there's that beep, the coffee maker telling me my brew is ready. Guess I'm off to ride my magic carpet... or will it be a time machine?