Going to the library is like hitchhiking. Being blown off track while hitchhiking lets you observe parts of the country you have never seen. While searching at a library, one side step can lead you to a book that is out of the ordinary but informative.
During a recent venture to the Traverse Area District Library, where I felt much like a hitchhiker, I fully realized my love of discovery associated with the written word.
I first headed for the audio section to check for "Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten" on DVD. They didn't possess, it but I was not about to give up on this segment of the library just yet. My eyes fell upon a DVD case's spine with the name "Gonzo."
The back of the case informed me that Gonzo is actually Hunter S. Thompson and that he was a radical, influential journalist famous for writing the drug-induced hallucinations that manifested themselves into the novel "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."
Journalism? Drug-induced hallucinations? My time in the audio section of the county library came to an abrupt end; it was off to the reference section to locate a biography on the mysterious Mr. Thompson.
My enthusiasm over finding this book came to a halt as I realized I had no idea how to locate it. The reference section is dominated by each group of related books being categorized by numbers. This is a tradition I was not well versed in.
But I didn't let that discourage me. I figured aimless wandering around this new world would lead me to, if not Gonzo, something worthwhile and bound by pages.
As I shuffled away, a large red book caught my eye. "The Complete Works of Allen Ginsberg." Ginsberg was a beat writer and best friends with Jack Kerouac. I found this extremely interesting because at the time I was in the middle of Kerouac's "On the Road."
After I marveled at this happy coincidence, I moved on. "Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures." Yes, that deserved a look. A James Dean biography? That too was worthy of a second glance. Something about a southwestern antichrist? That looked quite interesting. After picking it up I learned Edward Abbey was a pretty cool guy and made a mental note to someday check out his novel "The Monkey Wrench Gang."
Having forgotten about Mr. Thompson, I determined there was nothing for me to gain and I started to leave, but a neon green and blue cover flashed out from an eye-level shelf. I picked up the paperback "Acid Plaid" about Scottish writers.
After scanning its pages I came away with a new mission -- find the novel "Trainspotting" by Irvine Welsh. A book whose plot line follows young addicts as they struggle through life in late '80s Scotland? Sign me up!
The contentment that consumed me as I left the library, "Trainspotting" in hand, was equal to a weary traveler who had completed an enlightening journey.
As a hitchhiker would accept rides from the unidentified and learn from the journeys they were taken on, I absorbed new miles of information because of my willingness to embrace unfamiliar routes.
Claira Freeman is a senior at Elk Rapids High School.