In August of 1988 I was flying home after a summer studying in Italy. I was working through a mild bout of aerophobia when our captain announced that we would be making an emergency landing at the nearest airport. It turns out this is standard procedure when you have to cut power to one of the aircraft’s engines. We landed in Reykjavik and were sequestered in a very small area of a tiny airport while mechanics worked on fixing the plane. While I was contemplating my new life in Iceland in order to not have to get back on the airplane, I spotted a fellow passenger removing items from her carry on bag. There it was. Catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger. I was so in love with Salinger’s writing at that time that it seemed like someone was offering up a coveted gem to me. She kindly agreed to loan me her book.
I began devouring each page as I had done in the past and completely forgot about engine repairs and being stranded so far away from friends and family. By the time the flight crew announced that we would soon be boarding the mended aircraft, instead of being frightened of the prospect of a repaired plane that just might not make it all the way across the Atlantic, I found myself smiling and gleefully queuing up with my fellow passengers. Losing myself in great literature has not only given me tremendous joy, it even played a role in curing my fear of flying.
–Melissa K. Barnes
Co-owner of ModelCave Hobby Shop in Downtown Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor resident