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The Dog Ear: Traveling with your books

By Alyssa McDonagh
On April 28, 2014

This past weekend, I made the trek to Ithaca, N.Y. to visit my boyfriend. It was the first time I had ever driven that far by myself. It was me and the radio for the 300-mile, five-hour long journey-and that was just one way. My solo road trip from UConn, through Massachusetts and across New York, gave me plenty of time to think of potential ideas for this column. The more I drove and thought, the more I examined my relationship between traveling and reading.
Startled, I realized that when I'm traveling, reading is sometimes neglected. Take last summer for example when I was studying abroad for a month in London. I'm ashamed to admit it, but during that entire month, I didn't read a single book. For me, that was an abomination. I'm that person who always has a half read book in her bag. However, I was swept up in the excitement of the bustling city. I spent my tube and train rides either people watching or taking in my surroundings instead of staring at the pages of a book. I felt that if I looked down, I would miss everything I should have been looking up at.
This feeling is because I have been brought to many new worlds by books. Even if the book is non-fiction, you can still find yourself caught in the details of what you are reading, transported to a new era, one from the past or beyond the present. While I was physically experiencing modern day London, I didn't want my mind to be distracted by the details of other lands, such as Westeros or District 12. Ironically, that is the reason why I love books so much. They can whisk you away on voyages when you are still sitting at home.
When I hear that someone is fortunate enough to leave home and travel, a plethora of questions comes to mind. Where are you going? What are you going to do there? How are you going to get there? There is always so much to ask about someone's trip but I feel the most important question is: Why are you going? With all of the different places in the world, it is always interesting to find out how someone commits to exploring and living in one particular place for a period of time. I have the same question with books: Why did you choose to read what you did? There must be a reason why one book is special enough for someone to invest their emotions and time in.
My drive helped me realize how much I crave both traveling and reading on a regular basis. I love the unknown adventures that they spread in their wake. When you are in a new place or reading a new book, you never know what is going to happen. The possibilities are truly endless. It is the spontaneity that teaches you lessons, creating memories, regardless of whether they were built upon good or bad moments. You never know when you'll find your light at the end of the tunnel. Everything, the highs and the lows, the ups and the downs, leads to another chapter in your story.

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