I was skimming the newspaper recently and arrived at the book section. I usually quickly check out the reviews, reading first the headline, title of the book, and perhaps a cutline, if there is one. I don’t have time to do everything, so I am careful to pick and choose where I spend my time reading.
On this particular day, the picture of a book caused me to pause. There it was. The bait had been set. The title was ‘Voluntary Detour.’ Those who read my Blog regularly know that I couldn’t resist.
I wasn’t disappointed.
It is a book about small-town museums throughout Alberta. It triggered a memory of learning about the history of Black cowboys and settlers in Canada. Oprah Winfrey specifically mentioned the town of Breton, Alberta and its museum. At the time, I made a note and with the promise of good weather, my wife and I headed out to Breton to check out this small museum.
We had a wonderful day, anchored by the museum visit. I learned so much about a part of my provincial history that I had not even an inkling about.
The review of Voluntary Detour told me more about the meaning of this title. It referenced the physical journey along the backroads, where the dotted lines meet the gravel and the mental detour from the ordinary settler’s narrative.
For example, some museums devoted to mining and oil recovery promote the colonial understanding of land use.
Indigenous museums and cultural centres challenge many to see a different perspective.
This leads to the broader question of what makes a museum a museum. Does calling it a cultural centre make it less a museum or a museum less a cultural centre? Words are powerful and prepare us for a perspective we are about to experience.
Voluntary Detours gives me a comprehensive location list of local topics of interest and passion. The range of independent experiences, unfettered by a common standard, will open my mind to other perspectives. I can’t wait.
Please give this a bit of a think. Regardless of the topic, what is a book title that would stop your browsing and force you to at least pick it up and check it out? Never mind the graphics, colour or font style. Just focus on the words.
Did you find out what I found, that the title encapsulated my personal view of my life’s journey – a curious spirit.
I’m curious about your thoughts. Please share your bit of a think below.
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