I just returned from Paris and had a lovely time. This trip was for training for Girl Scouts, and I was lucky to meet so many nice ladies who are working hard to make sure their troops have great international experiences.
Since Veteran's Day was approaching, there was quite a bit of focus on the trip about World War II and the Nazi occupation of France. I was so grateful that I had recently read Code Name Verity (which is about spies during WWII). There were so many references that I understood (even French words that I knew the meaning!) because I had read that historical novel. Places, dates, and events had much more meaning to me because I remembered them from the book. And that was a fiction book! It helped emphasize to me the ways that fiction can be used to help bring history to life, as well as nonfiction or textbooks.
My parents listened to the book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand on a car trip a few weeks back. When we went to the air show recently, my mom commented that seeing the historical fighter planes and re-enactments was especially meaningful since they had just listened to that novel.
The first time I went to Paris, a friend recommended a collection of short stories, Paris in Mind, edited by Jennifer Lee. It was great to experience Paris through many different eyes, as well as my own. In fact, at one point on the trip, I sat on a blanket in the grassy area below the Eiffel Tower and read the book and people watched. What a wonderful memory!
I just love examples of how reading and literature can enhance our experiences. While reading is generally a solitary activity (although can easily be shared with audiobooks), it can open us up to the world in so many different ways.