Much like other readers, many of my nourishing conversations with people close to me have revolved around books. But over my lifetime I've had similarly enriching interactions - ignited by a love of the written word - with more than a few strangers. Is this an experience you and I share? If so, please tell me and others about it.
Flying to Chicago, I noticed a book in the seat pocket of the young woman seated to my left. When I glanced over as she retrieved it I couldn't catch the title but recognized the cover sticker indicating something either nominated for or the recipient of the National Book Award. When she later initiated a conversation, one of the first questions I asked was about her book. The next thing I knew we were landing.
All the tributaries of our energizing conversation began at the same source - Hold Still by Sally Mann - now on my "to read" list, despite my memoir moratorium. After all, fair is fair: My seatmate had captured The Namesake (Jhumpa Lahiri) on her phone notepad based on my recommendation. Our discussion of that excellent novel (and film) was itself connected to - a) her interest in hearing more about my final destination - the White Privilege Conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and … b.) our mutual incredulity at the way many Americans insist on "re-naming" people with names they find too foreign or exotic and … c.) her own cultural journey.
Still buzzing, as my connecting flight awaited departure, out came my journal. As David Hare so memorably said "Writing is the act of self-discovery". The discoveries continue.