When I was inEurope a few years back, I bought copy of Kerouac’s On The Road at Shakespeare and Company in Paris. I carried this book with me across France, through the Netherlands, and then into Italy. It stayed in my pocket on a flight across the Atlantic, back to the Midwest. I read it sitting on a bench at the end of Navy Pier in Chicago. I read in bed with my girlfriend in Ann Arbor. I read it on the couch in my parents’ house in Cincinnati. I read it in the waiting room of the dentist’s office.
For the longest time, I was scared to write in my books, to let them fall into anything but pristine condition. But carrying Kerouac with me so long and so far taught me a lot.
When they bear the scars of travel–the dog-earred pages, the pencil marks, the creases in the spine–books become our companions, witnesses to our lives as we lead them. And just like the people who walk alongside us, a good book is full of depths and riches and things that we must take time to discover.