There's something to be said about a good book, and as I sat in the metro last night, it came to me. Think back to your childhood: did you ever read any of the books in the series "Magic Tree House?" Yeah, I know, it's a perfect allusion to reading. I mean what description is better of reading than being transported throughout time across the world on a secret mission? Exactly, case and point.
Ok, now forget my amazing reference (just for a second), and let's bring it back to the magic that we find between the covers of a good book. Timeless, magisterial, yeah yeah these are good adjectives but I sound more like a Barcelona football club announcer commenting on a game about Lionel Messi than an MIT student talking about reading. So what drives me, of all people, to spend my free hours in Paris scouring the libraries (bookstores) in search for something that can simply fit in my pocket? I think the answer to this question lies within the culture of Paris herself.
Seve, you might ask, what the heck do you mean by the culture of Paris and how could that possibly represent a book?! Let's reflect on what causes romantics and religious alike to fall madly in love with Paris, as if she had the same hypnotizing spell of the sirens in the Odyssey. Just a brief warning, this might require the use of your imagination a bit, a nice little exercise to get the neurons firing.
You're standing in front of the alter in cathédrale Notre Dame. You look down and immediately see the seats of the choir. You look a bit further ahead and you see the seats of the congregation lined up all the way to the back. Now, you're Napoleon preparing for the most glorious moment of your life: your coronation. The cathédrale is now filled. The pope is sitting behind you next to the archbishop of Paris, giving you their blessing. You have thousands in the congregation, ever loyal to you, the emperor.
Now flash back over two hundred years. It's a brisk 17th century Parisian night, and you're standing on the edge of the street staring down at the steps. Oh, and you're heartbroken because the love of your life, Célimène, just rejected your proposal for marriage. You can't tell if those feelings in your stomach are rage, misery, or just a sign of your eternal emptiness. You hear her close the door.
Then, just like that, you're back in your hotel room, exhausted, and questioning why you're reading too books at once. But these are the types of adventures great books take you on. Whether fiction or non-fiction, romantic or tragic, literature can make you laugh, cry, and shout in fear all in the same day. Books allow you to explore different cultures and different periods of time. They are our teleportation device and our time machine. And what's even better, if you read the book in its original language, you're able to see the true adventure without any bias or mistranslation.
This trip to Paris has left me wanting more. Memories and pictures were not nearly enough. I want to be in Paris. I want to sit on the Seine everyday enjoying the sunrise, listening to the bells of Notre Dame ring. I want to go to mass each day and hear the sacrifice of the mass in French. But MIT beckons me home. Thus, I plan on bringing a little bit of Paris home with me.