I've been extremely busy finishing up The Warrior and the Governor, the second book in my Warriors of Gaviron series of science fiction romance. The past two weeks reminded me how fortunate I am in family. My husband has been super supportive as have my sons. My daughter in Morocco offered to help any way she can, such as guesting on my blog. I wasn't sure what to expect. As her habit, she far exceeded my expectations. The two of us share many things and one of our deepest connections is our love of books. She's been busy carrying that love to different parts of the world.
Books That Travel
Not too long ago, I found myself faced with a week-long vacation from my semester in Morocco, and I had nothing to read. I had not brought any physical books with me for my semester abroad because of space and weight constraints. I only brought my Kindle which I was obliged to leave with a friend so as not to deprive her of internet while I lived it up in Spain.
Faced with such a depressing dilemma, I went to the small library of the cultural center I study at, and though this library is small, the biggest section is undoubtedly the fiction section for English language (there are also extensive French and Arabic-language literature sections). The first time I had seen this treasure trove I wondered how they had cultivated such a wide variety of books. But, of course the answer is simple: books travel. In fact, I think they even like it. It just might be one of their favorite past times.
All of these books in the glorious and beautiful English language had been brought and left by students of the cultural center stretching back decades. Each one of these books set out on a journey and ended up in Morocco. I decided to check out two and let them tag along on my excursion to Spain.
When I was in Spain, I adopted a book for my friend and decided to take it on a journey to Morocco and then on to the United States.
I came back from my stint in Spain early to sojourn in a small Moroccan beach town called Essaouira. As I strolled the souk one day it suddenly appeared like a blessing from the Literary Gods. A sign that said “Livres/Books” with an arrow pointing down a friendly-looking alley. In the friendly-looking alley was a friendly-looking bookshop where books dominated floor to ceiling. I can only assume they were all merely taking a brief rest before continuing their travels.
I communed with a few of them, and inquired silently about their stories. For example, how did a book about the Sand Creek Massacre end up in a small African beach town? Did all of the Tom Clancys travel to Morocco with the same person? The creations of Robert Jordan, William Faulkner, and Agatha Christie have all touched Morocco in some way, and I am sure many other places as well.
|Kelley on a camel in the Sahara|
The explanation for this extraordinary phenomenon is actually quite simple, though it does not make it any less extraordinary. Books travel. All the time, always. With worn and tattered pages and with crisp new pages. Through the internet and via e-readers. They get stuffed in purses, packed in suitcases, and tucked under arms. The most important part of a book's ability to travel, however, is that they always travel in your heart and mind. After you read a book, even though that particular book may continue its travels to touch the life of another person in a totally different country, it has left its mark on you. Whether you are reading a book or writing one, just know that one day that book might end up being a light to someone in a small Moroccan town or its name might be spoken in the stillness of the Saharan Desert. All books are books that travel if you just give them a chance.
Kelley Gourley is a junior at Boston University studying Arabic and International Affairs. Currently she is studying a semester in Morocco where she also teaches English to unwilling college students. Her personal blog can be found at The Open Roof.
Do you visit bookstores when you travel? Have you ever visited a bookstore in a country other than your native land? Any surprising finds? Are you as lucky in familial support as I am? How cool would it be to find your own novel sitting on a shelf in non-English speaking country? Do you love books even half as much as Kelley?