I am the kind of person who happily returns to a truly great book. (I've read "Anna Karenina" two times, "Charlotte's Web" five and "To Kill a Mockingbird" countless.) With each encounter, something new is revealed, and I bring a different mind-set.

Can't the same be said of destinations?

My family has just returned from our annual summer vacation and already we're discussing where to go this fall. Among the top three choices is the place we just left, whose sand is still in our shoes: Wisconsin's rambling, gorgeous Madeline Island.

It's the same dilemma we face whenever we plan a trip: go for the tried-and-true (so comfortable and relaxing) or explore someplace new (so exciting and potentially not relaxing). In any given year, we try for both, since each teaches us things about ourselves that we might never discover at home.

For me, Madeline Island is like any other place people return to again and again, whether a family cabin Up North or a Brainerd-area resort. It is as comfortable as the fleece sweater I've brought with me there for the past seven summers. I know its quirks and the best beach for viewing distant lighthouses at dusk. But more important, amid its unchanging landscape, I find myself considering how my life has changed since I was last there. It seems natural to reflect upon time's passing during an annual visit to such a beautiful place.

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page," according to the philosopher and theologian Saint Augustine. Let's just say that within the book of the world, I find value in repeating paragraphs.

Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at travel@startribune.com, and follow her on twitter @kerriwestenberg.