As you may or may not know, I've been doing a lot of traveling. I'm currently in London, where I plan to hit up a bunch of bookshops and spend all my money and go home completely broke. Before this, I was in Africa and Botswana with my extended family, and it's been a truly amazing experience. But of course, I've managed to squeeze in a couple reads here and there, and it got me thinking: I will always associate the books I read on this trip with this trip.
When I see The Kiss of Deception on my shelf, I'll think of reading it in that teeeeeny tiny plane as I flew over the Okavango Delta, crushed up next to my cousin, trying not to let him see me blink away tears because man did one scene get to me for some strange reason. When I see Between the Spark and the Burn on my shelf (which took place in a frigid winter town), I'll think of my two hour Air Botswana flight with no air conditioning and those strangely delicious beef noodles they served us and my other cousin falling asleep with his head on the dining tray thing.
When I see these books, I'll instantly get a whiff of that vacationy feel, and a slight, nostalgic ease will settle over me. It happens to me with every book. I remember who I was in that moment I read it, not just what happened to the characters inside. And being in London has made me nostalgic for all the Past Gillians who read books here. Like last summer, when I bingeread Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas while eating snacks in the cafe at Waterstones Bookstore. Like when I go to the Tower of London later this week and remember six-year-old Gillian who bought her first Horrible Histories book in the Tower giftshop, posed with her head on a scaffold, and fell in love with the terrible Tudors.
It's not just the books I've read while traveling, either. Do you ever see a book you read and loved as a child and get homesick for that time in your life? I do. I see my wall of Meg Cabot books and remember giggling over them with my friends as a fifteen-year-old, or I see my UK editions of the Harry Potters and remember exactly what I was doing as I read that story for the first time, and how it felt to discover new Wizarding World secrets. My beat-up, tape-patched Tamora Pierce trade paperbacks remind me of twelve-year-old me who stayed up for an ENTIRE NIGHT to finish the Alanna series (I HAD TO FIND OUT WHO SHE WOULD END UP WITH). My copy of The Realms of the Gods reminds me of thirteen-year-old Gillian who reread kiss scenes until she had them memorized and didn't know what fanfiction was but kind of started doing accidental Daine/Numair fanfiction without realizing it.
|Seriously, I did this.|
Ten by Gretchen McNeil, a creeptastic, cold, rainy, Pacific Northwest-set thriller, will remind me of vacation and beaches and summer sun. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will remind me of Ireland, family, dinner parties, and loud laughter in the next room. Georgia Nicolson will remind me of the teenage girl going to summer camp, trying to figure out her own brand of humor, starting to speak in British-isms, and figuring out who her real friends are.
Books do this better than anything else, because we bring so much more of ourselves into our reading experiences. We're active in creating and storing the story. The same book will be different to you at different points in your life, and I just think it's so neat the way that first time will leave a stamp on your brain. So every book is kind of like a little time capsule, or a recording of who were were at the moment you read it. At least, for me.
What about you? Do you have any strong reading memories or books you associate with the time and place that you read them?