Two John Smiths and a Tent

Why two John Smiths, and who are they? How are they related to each other? And to a tent? There is an initial mystery in my title that underpins the fact that reading is a form of quest. No matter what we read—this short piece, a novel, a poem—reading is a quest for our questions about the world, questions that very often we do not even know are waiting within us. This is why books sometimes give answers and at other times direct us to other books until, when looking back, we realize that rather than having walked a pre-defined path, we have built a network of paths joining books together. This finely-spun web allows us to move in all directions, back and forth in time, memory, and imagination. In the process, our understanding deepens and the books yield their treasure of meanings.

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