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My Literary Paradise

A Favorite Quote

Greetings to all! The following post is my official college essay. It took months of perfection, and I hope you like it!

Common Application Topic: Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?

Within ten minutes walking distance of my home is a sanctuary – a place of solitude, abundance, bliss, wonder, and repose. It is brown-and-white brick and “read” all over. And throughout the years, I – regrettably, yet for good reason – have contributed no less than one hundred dollars in penalties. Housing over one thousand books and tomes, that spot is my local library – a literary safe haven of my very own.

Almost since the day I was born, I have cherished the written word. I found joy in my mother reading aloud to me – anything from the story of Heidi to Judy B. Jones. With the turn of a page, I have voyaged 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, stayed In Touch with the latest celebrity gossip, and savored the haute cuisine of Eataly.

At the library, I am surrounded, swimming in a sea full of literature from five-thousand BC to the twenty-fifth century. But not only is the library a figurative escape from my everyday life. The books contained are timeless, powerful tools of change. They have been my outlets to adventure and shock. They have been instruments of transformation within my personal beliefs. Thanks to its sheer diversity, the library has allowed me to discover worlds unstudied and unknown, to expose me to the harshest realities that I seek to change. I carry what I’ve read throughout this journey of life.

I’ll never forget one day walking through the stacks, and stumbling into a section of food-and-drink. I scanned the selection, making sure to pick up The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Fast Food Nation, and even Eat This, Not That. Little did I realize that this seemingly random assortment of books would impact the way I eat, shop, think, and reflect. I quickly unearthed a horrifying reality.

I traced the journey of a fast food meal from farm to plate. I uncovered the plight of agricultural laborers, the treatment of livestock, and so much more. I discovered the hidden underbelly of the American food industry, a reality that I wished to change with my lifestyle. I began to shop and eat with a conscience, implementing the knowledge gained at trips to the farmers-market and grocery store. And thankfully, this change can all be attributed to the diversity and adventure of my local library.

But not only have the joys of books served to change the way I eat; they’ve also aided in my connection with relatives and friends. Nicole Kraus’s The Nanny Diaries is a hilarious favorite. My cousin Linseigh saw me reading it, and ended up devouring the work herself. And then there’s Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman, a novel about the art of French parenting. I shared it with my beloved French “professeur” Madame Zuclich – and we often bring up the title to enliven our class discussions about French culture. I bond over books, and the many works I’ve discovered at my literary paradise have only served as sources of friendship, inquiry, laughter, and joy.

Above all, my favorite part of the literary hideaway is the travel section. So far, at the library, I have journeyed to the almost all two hundred nations on the planet. Through my beloved travel guides – from Lonely Planet to Berlitz – I’ve voyaged from Greenland to Antarctica, India, the Cook Islands, and ever beyond. I have discovered my favorite New York City restaurants – Burmese “Mingala” and Ethiopian “Awash” – thanks to a dogeared copy of Zagat. And issues of Time Out New York have driven me to visit the city’s dazzling array of art galleries and museums. I love to globe-trot and explore, and the library – with its infinite range of books and periodicals – piques my constant curiosity and rouses my desire to sightsee and travel.

The books of the literary hideout are outlets for my adventurous soul. No matter what the season or where I go, the written word is my mainstay, my second home.

Butler Library at my dream school Columbia University