Goodman: Turning off the page: An escape offered by books

Goodman_WEBThis past break I really lived on the edge – I watched more TV than I have since entering college, wrapped so many Christmas presents that I saw animated reindeer and Santas in my dreams and ate enough cereal that I may never do it again.

The simplicity of break, however, did allow for me to do something I greatly miss during the school year. It gave me the chance to read for fun.

I read about 12 books this past break, and because of those novels, my time off truly was well spent. The works ranged from tales of women discovering their independence in the early 20th century (I learned more about opium than I ever hoped to know) to stories so classic they can be read 10 times and never grow old.

One of the greatest things is finding a book so fantastic that you just want to jump into its pages and live there forever. Although I read plenty of interesting books over break, I stumbled across one that fulfilled this magical “jump into the pages” criteria.

The book is called “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern, and if the title doesn’t grab your attention, the dramatic red, white and black cover certainly should.

The plot follows two young and developing illusionists who have been placed against each other in a challenge of magical skill and ability. The venue for the challenge is a circus that opens at dusk and closes at dawn and is masked completely in black, gray and white.

There’s a little bit of romance, a good amount of cleverness and a whole lot of absolutely stunning imagery. Imagine walking through the gates of a circus and feeling as if you’ve entered a dream, with attractions of icy wonderlands that stretch for miles and mazes of clouds that aren’t out of reach but close enough to climb upon.

Many authors create brilliant imagery with their words, but Morgenstern is also a painter, which I believe allowed her to transport a beauty that could typically only be seen on a canvas to the pages of a novel.

Although I could go on endlessly about this book, my point is not to promote it or write a review. My goal is to emphasize just how wonderful it is to find a novel that seems genuinely better than real life.

It’s not just due to the imagery, though. It’s the fact that at any point in time, anxiety may be put at bay by simply flipping to the ending. There is a certain comfort knowing that whether it turns out good or bad, there will always be a beginning and an end.

Sure, the waiting game of life is exciting most of the time, but sometimes you just need to know that there will be something incredible down the road that makes it all worth it.

“The Night Circus” helped me to re-realize the stability novels can provide when life fails to do so. Sure, great books might have crazy and unrealistic plot lines, but they also have great endings, and all it takes is a simple flip of the page to find them.

At many points during our lives, all we want is to know what’s going to happen next. Whether it’s the seniors like me who check email and mailboxes every 20 minutes awaiting some sign of future possibilities, or those who are simply waiting for the next great thing to be inspired by, amazing novels give us an escape from reality in more ways than one.

They provide an escape from the uncertainty of life, which, sometimes, is all we really need.

 

Brooke Goodman is a senior studying journalism and political science. Email brooke.goodman@marquette.edu with anything you’d like to see her write about.

 

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