Do Books Hold the Stories of Alternate Universes?

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I’d like to think so. Well, not really. I haven’t lost control of all my faculties just yet. But if you’re as obsessed with reading fiction as I am, have you ever wondered why it’s so easy to become so invested in these stories and their characters despite knowing that it isn’t all real?

A few weeks ago, I read a book called All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven; and I ugly cried for half an hour after reading it. There I sat mourning a fictional suicide (whoops, spoiler alert), wondering what on earth was wrong with me because the character wasn’t a real person! That, my friends, is the power of literature.

Whether you enjoy the increasingly popular fantasy genre, the humorously witty chick-lit, the unrivalled, twisted brilliance of Stephen King and Dean Koontz or the immortalised classics, you have to admit that reading is the most limitless, cost effective adventure that you can experience.
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Someone once told me that I spend too much time reading books rather than actually living. I pity that person. Not because I believe that books are better than reality; I am a rational individual, but because the person who said this was so ignorant to the art of literature. You cannot compare reality and literature. That would be like comparing Audrey ll from The Little Shop of Horrors, to my batty old neighbour. Sure they might look the same but they’re both a different species.

Anyway, the reason I love reading so much is because I don’t handle life so well some days and I think a lot of us have this problem, and so we try to find escapism in whatever we can. I find solace between the pages of books when I need to get away from myself. It’s so easy to be transported to another place just by reading a page or few without realising that the book that you’ve dived into was once merely just a seed in the author’s imagination. If that doesn’t leave you in awe of the power of the human mind then I don’t know what will. Authors are special beings. They create. They design limitless possibilities all with the power of words. I like to believe that every author puts a semblance of themselves into their stories and characters, consciously or not. And any form of art that makes you feel something is definitely worth appreciating.

Now, I’m not saying that every book is good. Some are just…hilariously bad (-cough- Fifty Shades -cough sneeze aneurysm-) but if a writer can create a world with characters that you can relate to and identify with on some level, is that not a small fraction of reality?

I’m 25 years old, and I still want to believe that if I ever walk the streets of London again and I stumble into a darkened alley, then I might just find myself in Olivander’s Wand Shop (Harry Potter fans will know).

One of my favourite places in my city is the huge Municipal Library. There’s almost a sacred sense of peace there. I love the smell of the books and the pleasant quietness. It’s a place that holds so much knowledge and creativity, so many universes, so many adventures. If given the opportunity, I’d camp between the shelves and read every book in there until I travelled to every city, learnt about every historical milestone, experienced every culture, fictional or real, or until someone finds me and has me escorted out by security. ‘Novel’ idea, don’t you think?

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Wanderlust

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You never quite know how powerful  Wanderlust can be until you’ve  been bitten by the bug. It sinks it’s teeth in so deep and fills you with sweet venom that seeps through your veins leaving you restless and yearning to discover EVERYTHING.

That yearning to stand beneath the Eiffel Tower and look skywards to the very top, to walk on cobblestones and sit on the Spanish Steps, to feel the snow melt between your fingers on a Swiss mountain, to swim in the azure waters of Greece, to eat street food in Thailand, To explore great lochs in Scotland, to shop in New York, to stare in awe at the immense vastness of The Grand Canyon, to survive the traffic in Mumbai and to lay on the vivid green fields of Ireland  on a tall cliff overlooking  the ocean.

To hear the languages of different tongues, to observe the variety of different  cultures  of people and realise that they’re more similar to you than they are different. To talk to a stranger on a plane and learn about his journey; where he’s been and where he’s going to, is something  that ultimately makes you learn more about yourself.

There’s  something magical about travel. It’s almost inexplicable. Your eyes become truly open to the world. I’ve never quite figured out who I really am and I’m still trying to figure out what my purpose is but when you’re in a different country where no one knows your name, you can be anyone you want to be. Planting your feet on foreign soil is an addiction and discovering the quirks and cultures of other countries is the single most humbling and gratifying experience  on earth. I say ‘humbling’ because it’s only when you’re on a ferry boat sailing on Lake Windermere trying to fathom the beauty of your surroundings that you truly realise how much bigger the world is than you are. I’d give anything to travel to every corner and every depth of the world  so when I die I can have the comfort of knowing that I have truly seen and I have truly lived.

One day perhaps, when I can afford it, I’ll travel far and away and back again and be whomever I want to be. Until then, the infection of Wanderlust  grows stronger, and so I’ll find the smallest kind of solace between the pages of books, travelling vicariously  through their words.

Andromeda

I Left My Heart in Scotland…

20140807_112028I remember what I’d expected when I pictured being in Scotland before my actual visit. An endless sea of rolling, green hills and beautifully ruined lochs standing stubbornly throughout the ages. That was the appeal for me; exploring castles and breathing the clean air of the Highlands while my overactive imagination played bagpipes in the distance. There were no bagpipes and I didn’t get to see any lochs.

But that didn’t leave me any less enchanted by the charming country. Driving into the city of Glasgow, you’re haunted by a magnificent view of The University of Glasgow. Initially I had thought that it was a neo-gothic castle that stood high above the city and glared at you but I later found out that it was a university that had been designed to look like it was built in the 1400’s. There’s something about Scotland 20140807_155250that made me feel like never leaving. I can’t tell if its the charming pubs, old architecture…or maybe I was just obsessed with the accent. I’d ask them directions to places that I had no intention of visiting just to hear them speak. Perhaps it was the gentle quiet of the city. Even through the noisy midday bustle you can hear a calm peace.

After two days of exploring the city’s museums, the achingly beautiful Glasgow Cathedral (walking over a few graves too) and harassing the locals for a little chat, it was time to move on to Edinburgh, or what I’d like to call ‘The best day of my friggin life’. Edinburgh was alive that day. I didn’t know why until I’d lost my Harry Potter tour group (Yes, I went on a Harry Potter trail led by a man named Richard who had purple hair and wore a floor-length cloak and I still got lost), and wandered into the 20140808_111422throes of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. There were hundreds of people swarming about the city square. People in costume in the middle of mini skits, musicians playing a set in amidst the crowds , painted human statues all promoting their art and I loved every one of them. The atmosphere was like nothing I had ever experienced before- clearly I don’t get out much. Needless to say, I was delightfully overwhelmed. By then I’d forgotten all about my long lost HP Tour, though I must add, The Potter Trail 20140808_133342was pretty cool for a free tour around the city..until you get lost and realise shamefully that you’ve accidentally stolen one of the wands that they give you to heighten your nerdish fantasy of feeling like a wizard whilst walking through the Diagon Alley- looking streets of Edinburgh.

After the excitement of the festival, I’d decided that I couldn’t leave Scotland without visiting at least one castle. Craigmillar Castle is a stunningly well preserved castle situated on the outskirts of Edinburgh. When I got there the clouds started20140808_155205 rolling in angry and grey with the threat of thunder. I could not have wished for a better setting than an ominous storm brewing above to explore a castle in. There’s something magical about visiting historical sites..its like the walls hold all their secrets close and you can almost feel the ghosts of the lives that once roamed the castle so many centuries ago.

I left Scotland that evening along with my heart and I’d probably give a kidney to relocate there just to walk the streets every afternoon and smile up at the flower pots hanging over the pubs. Alas, when you’re a broke South African struck by wanderlust, its quite the tragedy. Til we meet again, Scotland the Stunning…

My First Blog -drummroll-

Yes, I know..the better part of 2014 is long gone and its only now that I’ve decided to immerse myself in the art of ‘creative complaining’, as I’ve called it before when people have suggested that I start a blog. Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’ is blaring dully at the hollows of my mind as I write this.

What do you write about? Who Is even going to read this?..I’m sure I’m not the only novice blogger that has been plagued with these and similar questions. And then suddenly, you have this brilliant epiphany, and the realisation dawns : I DON’T CARE IF ANYONE READS IT.

I’m not particularly interesting. I’ve just completed a degree that I’m pretty sure isn’t going to reap me any rewards, my hair is half my personality and when I see the gentle rays of sunlight glitter through my curtains every morning it pisses me off. But aside from my general hatred for the general population and Crocs, I swear, I’m bloody delightful 🙂