The second book is nearly finished now, the one that not so long ago I thought I had lost the knack of reading. For all my worries, I had not lost the knack of reading, or of filling my mind and body and soul with all that I read.

An old map serves as a bookmark, chosen at random from the detritus that collected next to my bed in untidier times. It’s a tourist guide to a place in which we were not tourists, a place of oil and dust and quiet optimism that one day the tourists might come.

It seems like an appropriate thing to mark a book with. Both are, in their own way, fundamental to human nature. The map takes a world, wild and free, and makes it small and neat and understandable; the book takes a story, wild and free, and does the same. It tames it, but just a little, just enough that in the reader’s head the spark of the wild story still lives.

February blows cold outside the window, and I am tired and old. But inside, in the warm, a bookmark remembers the place where stories live again.