Under the Influence (of books)
In general, I avoid the Inspirational genre when it comes to my literary choices. Call me a cynic, but those saccharine cup-of-soup missives just aren’t for my (jaded) soul. But that’s not to say that other books–reference books, even–can’t inspire someone with a heart as shriveled and black as mine! Leave it to me to find inspiration in the pages of…an ATLAS.
Maybe it speaks to my OCD tendencies for all things neat and orderly that some of my fondest childhood book-related memories revolve around a hard-cover, over-sized 1960s Rand McNally atlas. With heavy pages, colorful maps loaded with details, and an extensive index, this book–the intrigue its pages held– captivated me, shaping me into the traveler I am today.
I whiled away whole hours with that atlas, tracing routes from New Jersey all the way to California. I scrutinized the pages like a rabbinical scholar with a holy text, committing to memory names of the towns as my finger passed them by. Youngstown, Ohio, zoom! South Bend, Indiana, zoom! Des Moines, Cheyenne, Elko, Reno, Sacramento, zoom, zoom, zoom! I wondered what life was like in the 49 other states and vowed to visit them all.
By age 30, I’d visited a respectable number of states–about 20–but my wanderlust was far from sated. In late 2006, I proposed the idea of a road trip to my husband. Sporting fellow that he is, he readily agreed (anything to avoid travel by airplane!) and our 8,000+ mile odyssey soon became reality.
We traveled on interstates and local roads visiting large cities and tiny towns. We tubed the Yellowstone River, visited Mount Rushmore, spray painted our names at Cadillac Ranch, and rode trolley cars in Memphis, New Orleans, and San Francisco.
I know that my local bookstore would never shelf an atlas in the Inspirational/Motivational section, but for me, that’s exactly what an atlas is!
Has a book ever inspired or motivated you? Inquiring minds want to know!