It is, of course, “books.” Wait, what did you think I meant?
Anyway, they’re bizarre and beautiful, banal and binding. And a whole lot of other words that don’t begin with B.
They can transport us from where we are, make us care about people who never existed and never will, make us wish for the impossible, and can inspire us to do what we never thought we would. They are self-contained miracles, nestled between two covers, whether real or virtual.
Reading, itself, is a common language, no matter the alphabet of the reader. It is an act all of its own, a not-so-secret society. There is an understanding, from one reader to another, of the distance traveled when a mind is in a book, and how long it can take to return to the universe outside the pages.
Like an elaborate sleight of hand, books make the world, at once, both bigger and smaller. They show us who we are, but maybe more importantly, they let us see the inner workings of other people, people who are not like us but are still very much the same.
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