‘The Birds’: A journey with a book

My friend told me once that reading on the bus gave her headaches and made her ill. I tended to agree with her when it came to books that demanded a lot of concentration and trying to compete with the bumps on the road, the scenery and the other passengers. All these distractions at once could make for unpleasant reading, maybe not so much though when it comes to short stories.

I had over a two hour journey ahead of me on the bus and anxiety crept up on me as I realised I had forgotten to bring a book. I found my way into a second hand book shop and went to the English Literature section where I always picked up some unusual gems. I wasn’t disappointed. Tucked in on one of the shelves I saw ‘The Birds’ by Daphne du Maurier.  I recognised the cover from Hitchcock’s adaption of the story. I bought it and ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ by Ernest Hemingway.

On my bus journey, I began reading ‘The Birds’. It was an overcast day and I read each paragraph in between travelling through the long winding roads, towns and countryside and looking out at the world outside my window. Like some sort of magic, the world of my book and the world outside the window seemed to merge and I found myself looking out at the birds thinking, ‘Could you really be capable of the horror described in this book?’

It made me wonder if the world in the book was not a million miles away from my window. What frightening current possesses animals and humans alike to attack? I had some reminders that this horror story had only invaded these pages as an old man near me sucked casually on a sweet, innocently oblivious of the melodrama I was deeply involved with.

I closed the last page of the book before the end of my journey, unscathed. It was the journey I had hoped for when I lifted the book from the shelf. It was a journey like no other. It was full of questions and sensations that a journey without a book could not offer.

Lena O’ Connell

Lena O’ Connell graduated from the Limerick School of Art and Design in 2009. She specialised in fine art, sculpture. Lena currently lives and works in Tipperary, Ireland. She teaches art to children and is aspiring to undertake a higher diploma in art teaching.