West with the Night by
(165 Stories)

Prompted By Libraries

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Walking down a tree-lined block in the East 80s the other day I passed a brownstone with a pretty patio fronting the street.  There on a small table someone had  left an open library book.

Always curious about what others are reading,  I looked through the wrought iron gate to see the title – it was Beryl Markham’s 1942 memoir West with the Night.  You may know of Markham,  the British-born Kenyan aviator who in 1936 became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

A free spirit,  Markham defied the conventions of her day that dictated what a woman could and could not do.   In West with the Night she tells her remarkable story against the backdrop of her beloved Africa, with it’s glorious landscapes and vibrant people,  and all it’s colonial failings.

Anne Tyler, another fine writer,  has said,  “We read so we can live more than one life in more than one time and place.”

So I’m sure whoever left that open book on that Manhattan patio is thousands of miles away by now, flying through the African sky with Beryl Markham.  Or perhaps he or she is back at the library,  ready to live another life in another time and place.

Dana Susan Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Books, Reading


  1. Suzy says:

    Well said, Dana, the library really can take us to live another life in another time and place. How great that you thought of that when you saw the library book on the table. Did you take the picture of it through the wrought-iron gate?

    • Thanx Suzy, I’m always curious about what others are reading, and yes I took the photo thru the gate, and full disclosure, this story is on my blog World Thru Brown Eyes!
      It was serendipity to see a copy of West with the Night lying there, I had read it years before, and actually list it on my blog profile as a favorite memoir of mine!

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    I tread about that book and now may check it out. I definitely need to escape the impending Chicago winter!

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