It was the normal Monday routine. An early flight out of Boston, with a connecting flight to my final destination. Sometimes the connection is in Atlanta, other times Minneapolis or maybe Detroit. This day, it was Atlanta.
When we landed, I asked the person next to me where she was flying to from Atlanta (almost everyone has a connecting flight). She replied, "Alabama." So I asked, “Rockets or cars?” “Rockets.”
What does this have to do with reading? Well, the night before, I was reading My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop
. As implied, this is a collection of essays by writers about their favorite local bookstores. The chapter I’d just finished was by Rick Bragg, in which he described The Alabama Booksmith
, in Birmingham, Alabama. To dispel the notion that people in Alabama aren’t literate, the bookstore owner pointed out that Alabama was where they built space rockets and Mercedes Benz automobiles.
From an earlier conversation, I had deduced that my seatmate was an engineer, or worked in engineering. Putting that piece of information together with my newly acquired knowledge about Alabama, I had a conversation starter. In a matter of seconds, we connected and were talking about Patriot missile systems, the defense industry and world politics.
That’s part of the joy of reading. By reading, we learn more about the world around us. And the more we learn about different places, the more we’re able to connect with other people. Even if it’s just a few minutes on a plane.