Book Club

Book World: your next travel destination

Grace Schutte

More stories from Grace Schutte

May 10, 2023

What started out as a random book thrift in Vancouver, Canada turned into one of my favorite reads of the year.

My first trip to Book World was in sixth grade.

It was summertime, and my family was in the Portland airport on our way to visit my grandparents. There was only one leg of the trip remaining, a short hop-skip to Eugene and we’d be there.

I almost didn’t make it. Part of me got lost, hopped on another flight and was never seen again. But, more on that in a moment.

“Catching Fire,” the second book in the “Hunger Games” series by Suzanne Collins, had me completely enthralled, and I couldn’t put it down. Looking back, I wonder if my amazement was more of a stupor as I reflect on the complicated — and highkey traumatic — politics found within.

Regardless, I was bewitched, zooming through the pages at a breakneck speed — even now, I’m amazed I retained any of it. Things got serious as soon as I hit the 50-page mark, committing myself to finish that book that very day.

But as the pages began to dwindle, the action only continued to ramp up to obscene levels of craziness. Suddenly, Johanna was bashing Katniss over the head with a rock; then she was bleeding, and the next thing you know, the sky was falling in a blast of awesome, electric glory. And what do you mean there’s no more District 12?

Bleary-eyed from not blinking for the last half hour and partially in disbelief, “Catching Fire” had left me reeling, and I wasn’t sure where I was.

I felt as though part of me — my brain, my heart, my soul? — had up and walked right out of my body, onto some flight and shot clean out of the stratosphere.

What just happened?

This, my friends, is what I like to call a trip to Book World. Ever since this first encounter, I’ve been trying time and time again to articulate this experience; however, I’ve never done it justice. There is something aporic about Book World, but I’m not giving up just yet!

Now, it is important to note “Book World” is not the official term for this escapist sensation. You’ve probably heard the phrase “reading is an escape” before — consider this to be taking that idea to the next level.

In an attempt to convince you Book World is a real place and not the number one reason why I need to see a therapist, I’ll give you step-by-step instructions on how exactly to get to Book World yourself. I encourage you to give it a try before discounting this whole article.

Step One: Pick a book
Who would’ve thought, right? But really, this is a crucial step.

I’ve had the most success when reading a genre I know I enjoy. You don’t necessarily have to be foaming at the mouth, but that won’t hurt your chances by any means. Unfortunately for me, that genre is typically Young Adult.

Step Two: Read and give yourself time
Another shocker.

How do you expect to get teleported to another universe when you haven’t read past the dust jacket sleeve?

Honestly, friends, this is probably where I’ll lose most of you, but you have to give yourself time. For me, it usually takes at least 100 pages before I even set foot on the tarmac. You need to be patient to gain access to Book World.

Step Three: Commit
For those who don’t usually read, you need to — with the most respect possible — get over yourself.

Book World is sensitive and doesn’t do well with people who make fun of the basis of their principles. There’s no room for scoffs or snarky asides directed at the art of reading — you can do all that to the content, but the sanctity of reading is off-limits.

If you’re self-conscious or afraid of being caught with a book in your hands, Book World won’t let you board the plane.

Step Four: Let it happen
When the words on the page start to fade, and the descriptions play out before you like a movie; when time seems to slow, and you become disoriented, you’ll know you’ve finally arrived.

Now that I think about it, Book World is kinda like that one scene in “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief” where they’re stuck in the casino — just, fewer psychedelics and dancing styrs.

I think it’s pertinent that I disclose not everyone gains access to Book World. I’ve met people who desperately want to be readers, to give themselves over like I have, but haven’t been able to find the right book.

Sometimes that’s all it is — the wrong genre, wrong author, or even wrong time to be reading. So, don’t be discouraged if your ticket is denied or if the flight takes off without you. There will always be another, and Book World will always be waiting.

Schutte can be reached at [email protected].