Today I say au revoir to France as I head across the border to Spain.*
For my visit to France, I chose to read The Island of Books by Dominique Fortier.
I picked this book based on a recommendation by a fellow Litten because the book centers around Mont Saint-Michel. And Mont Saint-Michel is one of the #BackpackEurope landmarks, which gives me an extra 4 points. (1 point for the book/country, 4 points for landmarks, 2 points for special events)
#BackpackEurope is not just a reading challenge, it’s a game. And I am, after all, rather competitive.
That aside, I decided to do this challenge, not because I’m competitive and love games, but so I might be introduced to authors and books I otherwise would not know. And this book fits that goal.
Interestingly, the original French title of this book is Au Péril de la Mer, which translate to: at the peril of the sea. That really is a much more fitting title.
I find it frustrating and frankly, rather insulting to both the authors and readers that publishers feel the need to change a book’s title. For example, the first Harry Potter book, a book not even translated as it was written in English, was originally Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It was changed for American markets to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone because apparently, Americans are too dumb to appreciate the history behind the philosopher’s stone and the connection to alchemy and would be more likely to read about sorcerers.
But I digress. Back to the book and Mont Saint-Michel.
This book is not one to rush through. A relatively short book at 147 pages, this book is one to savor, like a well-aged whiskey or fine wine. I normally would read a book this size within hours. Instead, I took my time reading this book this week. I would read some, often re-reading passages, and then set it aside to reflect on what I read. I will likely re-read it in its entirety again in the future once I’ve had time to digest and appreciate the first read.
If you look at the book on Goodreads, you will see highly mixed reviews. And I recommend to anyone interested in reading this book to not read any reviews before picking it up. In fact, most of my review on Goodreads is hidden as a spoiler. Go, read the book with no preconceptions, no real idea about its contents other than its brief synopsis. Savor it.
Picture Mont Saint-Michel, the rock upon which the abbey sits, indistinguishable from each other, pushing toward the sky, the spire and the archangel reaching for the heavens.
Breath in the salt sea air of the Normandy coast.
Feel the warmth of the sun on your back and the coolness of the sand on your feet.
Listen for the footsteps and the innumerable pilgrims that have made their way to this place over the centuries.
Appreciate the interwovenness of life.
In all, my visit to France and specifically Mont Saint-Michel was wonderful. I am a bit sad to leave Normandy, but the adventure must continue.
Luckily, I love to travel by train. It offers a great opportunity to read.
In Spain, I plan on finally tackling the chunkster Don Quixote by Cervantes, a book considered to be the first modern novel. This book is also on my GARbingo list, so bonus for me!
And speaking of Cervantes, I’ll leave you with one fun fact I learned from the book:
Cervantes and Shakespeare never met, but they both died on April 23, 1616. This is why April 23 is World Book Day. But the fact that at the beginning of the seventeenth century Spain had already adopted the Gregorian calendar while England was still using the Julian calendar, was overlooked. The two greatest authors who ever lived indeed died on the same date, but ten days apart. It’s what you might call a problem of translation.Dominique Fortier, The Island of Books
Where are you this week? What book(s) are you reading for your reading challenge(s)? Share your literary adventure in the comments below.
*Disclaimer: This is a virtual trip. I am not physically traveling in Europe, only visiting there through books. In fact, I’m currently sitting on the floor of my living room, wearing yoga pants and oversized tee, binging Netflix in between books, eating marshmallows, and occasionally petting the cat when he demands attention.
Any and all mistakes about locations, travel, weather, etc., are mine because most of this is a product of my imagination with a few random trivia facts thrown in for fun.