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The Library

My place of solitude is within ten minutes walking distance of my house. It is brown and white and “read” all over. Throughout the years, I have contributed no less than one hundred dollars in late fees. My “Walden” is my local library. It is my place of solitude, escapism, and repose.

From the day I was born, I have always cherished the written word. I found joy in my mother reading aloud to me, anything from the story of Heidi to Judy B. Jones and Where the Wild Things Are. With the turn of a page, I have voyaged 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, journeyed to the hidden, dark depths of the Amazon Jungle, savored the latest celebrity gossip, and completely immersed myself in eighteenth-century British society.

My first foray into reading independently occurred when I was eight years old, in third grade. My mother, Roxanne, took me abroad to the island of Barbados, for a year of sun, sand, and solitude from a hectic life in New York. For that year, I attended St. Winifred’s School, and my adjustment was a challenging process. I had few friends, and was deathly shy. But one day, when I at the school library, I discovered a popular series of books: The Mary-Kate & Ashley Mysteries. I couldn’t help but scan the back cover of the books, and check one of them out. What began was a relationship between me and books, as a place of thought, escapism, and solitude. Through books, I felt like I had someone with whom I could have an exciting internal conversation. Literature helped me to understand myself, and come to terms with my shyness. Books provided me an outlet for my lonely emotions.

Nothing makes me feel independent and isolated from the world like a book. The library is a prime representation of quietness, studiousness, and solitude, both physically and metaphorically. This is something that I desire during periods of stress and apprehension. Books represent escapism and a whole new world. When I am immersed in the written word, I feel as if I have been placed in somebody else’s shoes, like I am seeing a perspective from somebody else’s eyes, like I am not Danielle.

I can’t help but run away to the library when I am stressed, agitated, nervous, or angry. What makes the library such a special place for me is the vast, innumerable amount of books and the quietude within the "four walls". I am surrounded, swimming in a sea full of literature ranging from five-thousand BCE to the 21st century. I like the fact that I can simply escape from the outside world with the turn of a page. I can imagine myself as an Indian warrior, battling with my morals in the epic poem of the Bhagavad Gita, and realize the strengths within myself; or I can become inspired to make a change in the world, while reading an important feminist oeuvre, Half the Sky. When I immerse myself in a novel, I can use those moral lessons to figure out how to deal with my quandaries, and how to change my character to become a better person.

To me, libraries also symbolize a figurative, internal escape from my pedestrian life. My favorite part of the library, above all, is the travel section of books. So far, in reality, my mom and I have been to forty-five countries and counting, but at the library I’ve journeyed to all two hundred countries on the planet. Through travel guides, I’ve voyaged from Greenland to Antarctica, India, Bhutan, the Cook Islands, and beyond. When I read a novel on the subject of travel, I feel outside of my own body, like I’ve taken a captivating little sojourn to a distant land. The library is a world unto itself. It's just as good as going on a trip to some exotic country, where one can always find a treasure trove of new worlds. It’s the perfect way to rejuvenate my mind, and take me on a little trip away from reality.

Books and reading are timeless, powerful tools of change. There is a reason that political pamphlets were distributed during the American Revolution, and Enlightenment philosophers recorded their ideas down on paper. The written word is the sole most powerful way to spread your thoughts, and just change the way that society thinks. Books, most of all, change the way that I reflect upon issues in society.

As Henry David Thoreau once said, “Books are relics to be treasured.” When I conclude a book, my thoughts and opinions feel put together, and I feel as if I have rejuvenated my state of mind. I am able to combat whatever is bothering me after I emerge from a book. I’m ready to return to reality, after my brief little escapade. For me, the library represents a combination of seclusion and solace. The library represents the enjoining of the intellect, emotion, and new ideas. For me, the written word represents discovery, curiosity, liberation, and a departure from my mundane little life.

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