The Smell of a New Paperback or the Thrill of a Download?


“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.”  ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Once upon a time, books smelled like emotions, offered an occasional papercut when flipped too quickly, populated night tables everywhere, and required a flashlight to finish under the covers hidden from your mom. Now, you turn on your Kindle, press a button and voilà, your fingertips tingle at the touch of the screen as your partner sleeps peacefully, undisturbed until the late hours of the night.

Sometimes, the perfect book appears at just the right moment, attempting to guide you through what you may be growing through. When I was a lost 7 year old girl, going through my parents’ divorce, my guidance counselor had me read the story of Nelly Bly, an American journalist widely known for her record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days, in emulation of Jules Verne’s fictional character Phileas Fogg. She was a pioneer in her field, and launched a new kind of investigative journalism. Bly was also a writer, industrialist, inventor, and a charity worker. This character remained in my DNA for many years to come, and allowed me to dream during a time when reality threatened to turn my normally curious nature into gloom and doom.


As an adolescent, Judy Blume held my hand and helped erase my fear of getting my period and never developing boobs like my best friend. I must have performed Margaret’s breast exercises four times a day in the hope of “increasing my bust.”

During my divorce, Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist opened my eyes to the possibilities surrounding me, inculcating the idea that  “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Try it, you will be amazed at how unconditional passion sparks a series of coincidences that can completely transform your life for the better.

Perhaps the book that has touched me the most, which I continue to read to my children and students is Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree.” No other book has provided me with such great awareness of the cycle of life, and how we must always be in tune with Mother Nature’s gifts. After reading the book for the millionth time to my daughter before putting her to bed, we were lying in bed, cuddling.
My little girl
holding hands.
I tried scratching her back, but she couldn’t fall asleep.
We tried just sitting in silence, but the fan’s monotonous blow blew on, along with the trucks slamming the bump in the street outside our terrace.
It was impossible to close the windows and unthinkable to switch off the fan.
So, there we cuddled in silence.
At a certain point, her little voice cut through the darkness with an,
“I love you, Mom. Family power. Love power. Don’t worry, I will sit on your trunk, too. Amen.”
She closed her eyes and fell asleep.
I laid there listening to the whirling fan, the slamming trucks and my daughter breathing, thankful for yet another book moment.

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Further Reading:

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