How travel impacts our reading

How travel impacts our reading

Hannah Cole, Literature Columnist

There is something that happens when you combine travel and literature. Every page of a novel you read is marked with the surrounding sights and the atmosphere of the setting you are in.

I travelled to Toronto over fall break, and while there, I bought a copy of "The Count of Monte Cristo" from a secondhand bookshop. Leafing through its pages in a world outside of my home caused me to suddenly appreciate the words more. Whenever I read the first few chapters from this point on, I will picture myself sitting on a park bench in the late afternoon reading about Edmond Dantès walking the streets of Marseille. It was as if the mere act of reading in an unfamiliar setting caused me to read more intentionally, and connect with the story in a closer way than I might have otherwise.

I believe that the atmosphere of a place determines the way literature affects us. From the moment I stepped foot onto the University of Toronto's campus, I was immersed in a culture built on books. The Fisher Rare Books Library is probably the most-affecting room in all of Toronto; the walls are lined with old tomes of varying colored vellum and sizes, and the skylight illuminates the dust and collection of stories ' perhaps some of the world's rarest volumes. This changed my perspective of the book I held in my hands ' as if one day it might find a place on the shelves of Fisher ' and that made reading Alexandre Dumas' novel more significant.

When you travel, your experiences color the way you see things, and reading a book in the same way can affect the way you view the story. This also influences the way we view literature and how we approach interpreting the author's words. Some people often say that literature is timeless, unchanged, no matter where you encounter it.

However, there is something to be said for the atmosphere of reading while traveling. Literature and words can heighten the excitement of a new place, or bring perspective to the monotony of a boring one.

There is a community of readers that we pass every day, and I love when I see someone reading a novel or text that I am familiar with. It allows me to immediately connect with them and wonder what they are thinking of the story and how they view the words.

I hope that your reading over fall break proved impactful and enjoyable, and if you need a suggestion of an up-and-coming author, check out the winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction: "A Brief History of Seven Killings" by Marlon James.

You can find more info on his book here.

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