When I realize that my sojourn in Germany coincides with the Frankfurt Book Fair, there is no question in my mind that I will attend. Despite living in Germany for the first two decades of my life, in those years I either lacked the opportunity, or the curiosity.
The annual five-day affair is tailored to facilitate the interaction between publishers and sellers, but the doors also open to the public for the last two days. It is a dream for any bibliophile. I delight in being surrounded by my favorite (and humanity’s most enduring) medium in myriad shapes, sizes, and languages, encompassing the gamut of fiction and non-fiction. One chosen country is featured in detail during each fair, and this year’s Guest of Honor is the Netherlands and Flanders, the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium.
From Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Icelandic Sagas, to modern-day global megahits, such as the eighth (and supposedly final) installment of Harry Potter, one gains an inkling of the breadth and depth of humankind’s literary accomplishments. Visitors range from children to seniors, attesting to the abiding appeal of books. The peaceful gathering of individuals originating from numerous nations, cultures, and religions, and our shared adoration of the printed word strengthens my belief in Homo sapiens, our common interests and ideals. The only shadow of this overall enchanting world results from the awareness that there is no way to taste even a fraction of the perpetual stream of novel tomes and volumes of literature.
As soon as I arrive at the venue, I regret my decision to leave my camera at home. In addition to the beautiful displays, it would have been fun to record various attendees dressed as their favorite character, a visual proof of the powerful sway of our imaginary realms. I am grateful to have shared this madness with circa 277,000 fellow addicts, united by our mutual love of books. After all, there are multiple less edifying addictions.
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