Travel far and read farther

Editor’s note: We’re thrilled to announce that the Seattle Review of Books has taken on our first intern! You’ll be seeing Rebecca around the site quite a bit over the course of the summer, and so we thought an introduction might be in order.

I’ve lived in the US, Belgium, France, and Mexico; road-tripped New Mexico, Utah, California, and the Northwest; jumped from coast to coast and back again — from Washington to Washington, now studying English and Psychology at American University in DC. I’m lucky enough to have seen a lot of this world. This instilled such a restlessness in me that the only way to satisfy it is through reading. Reading allows for even more extensive travel, for visiting places and times not accessible to me, for visiting the lives of people I’ll never meet.

I discovered the best way to travel through reading is via magical realism, a middle school find that still monopolizes my reading preferences. Gabriel García Márquez instigated this fascination — stronger today than ever before — when I read One Hundred Years of Solitude in seventh grade. It was a battered copy from my mom’s college bookstore, accompanied by various other García Márquez novels. The fantastic elements embedded in realistic stories add a certain depth and intrigue without making the story feel implausible, the way science fiction sometimes does. The reader vicariously experiences a whole other life and then some, an extra dimension not present in regular fiction. When something like insomnia becomes a contagious disease that spreads throughout a small town, the experience of reading about the plague feels real and wild and leaves the reader more well-travelled and exhausted. I love learning about things outside of what my imagination could create and reading conversations that will never take place. And magical realism, when implemented by the Van Goghs and da Vincis of literature, who so expertly paint with language, fills the spaces of my mind that yearn for that little extra something missing in regular fiction. So even if I’m old and arthritic, or too poor to visit new places, I’ll revel in the ability to know the hidden corners of the world and the hidden thoughts of strangers.