People who love to read understand that a book can transport you. Without any special additional materials, without electricity or satellite signals or outside intervention of any kind, a book can provide a magic carpet to another time, a better place. Even at times of great stress. Even, as Abe Books points out this week, if a war is raging around you.

“If you love books, you have to keep reading,” says the Abe Books feature on reading in Iraq, “even if you’re living in an active war-zone like Iraq.”

One of the soldiers featured is January Magazine contributing editor David Abrams, who we missed deeply when he did an 11 month tour in Iraq in 2005 through 2006. Abrams, who is currently working on a novel based on his time in a combat zone, tells Abe Books how reading might have saved his life:

There were at least two incidents when enemy mortars landed in our camp, not far from the trailer where I lived. In both cases, I was holed up reading — the first time I was deep into Don Quixote; the second mortar attack found me engrossed in Jarhead by Anthony Swofford. I could very well have been wandering around the camp at the time of the attack …. Instead, I chose to stay inside with my books — my comforts and mainstays. In that first attack … one soldier was killed and 16 others were injured. So, I guess you could say Cervantes really did save my ass.

While it’s been super to have Abrams back home, we don’t get nearly enough of his time and talent (though I can’t imagine a saturation point with this writer: his work is just that good). But the Army is keeping Abrams busy stateside, he maintain the official Agatha Christie blog, plus there’s that novel to look forward to. More on that when it happens.

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