Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Best Kinds of Books.


I find a book that is able to completely remove me from whatever my schedule dictates, whatever cursed month is prohibiting me from wearing flip flops, whatever lack of funds is restricting my travel and it transports me. Granted, I get lost in books a lot. I can't help it. But there is something different about books that reawaken you to wonder and believe. Sigh. I just finished The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. This book, like most others who fit into this category are led by adventurous, precocious, brave children. Hugo Cabret is an apprentice time keeper in a Paris train station in the 1930's. Struck by tragedy, the book follows his earnest adventures to find answers and while doing so, uncovers a mystery and some beauty in the human experience.

The most wonderful aspect of this book is not only the words on the page and the escapades they pull you into, but the illustrations. Selznick is a renowned illustrator as well, and his pencil drawings magically capture key moments in the story and invite the reader to slow down. The drawings don't just supplement the text, they replace large swathes of text and ask the reader to stop and look and imagine. I'm not sure if others get or understand this feeling, but I love it when various medias of art combine for a depth and beauty that is unable to be expressed in any other way? (I had the same feeling reading/looking at an installation at The Powerhouse Arena in Dumbo last weekend--a self proclaimed laboratory for creative thought: bookstore, gallery, boutique, performance space. Definitely worth a trip if you are in NYC and wanting to channel creative juices...the installation I saw goes through Sunday only, so hurry!)

I don't think it's a surprise that these "transportation" books often have children as the main characters. They are the ones who don't forget to wonder and who aren't afraid to wander and don't get caught up in the worries of the adult world. If I were an 8-12 year old, Hugo and Isabelle, his parter in crime, would be my heroes. As a 28 year old, I kind of want to be them, still. Or else be an adult who encourages adventure and imagination. Sigh.

Read. This. Book.

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