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  • Writer's pictureLelia

"Read, read, read, read, my unlearned reader!"*: A Commonplace

Updated: Apr 14, 2021

"Read books. They are good for us." Wild Mind, Natalie Goldberg

"... books have been my windows on to vast tracts of experience, both destructive and creative, in which I have not lived. To the poet, to the painter, to the writer of serious prose as distinct from the entertainer (much though I owe to the latter), I am so much in debt that if artists did not exist, I cannot imagine that I would." Instead of a Letter, Diana Athill

"Occasionally, I’ll commit to memory a poem by one of my favorite poets — Marie Howe, say, or Jean Valentine — and for a spell I know the sound of her words intimately, almost like a heartbeat. All of this is thanks to Doctorow and what he taught me: Read deeply, steal what you can and always listen for the music." S. Kirk Walsh, January 9, 2021, "How the Author of 'Ragtime' Taught an Aspiring Writer to Hear the Music," New York Times,

"The actual act of reading a good book is a pleasure. Miriam said, 'When you read a book, you're not creating karma.' You have stepped out of trouble, out of cause and effect. You are just there with legs swinging over the arm of a chair, your eyes on a page, your mind connected with the mind of the author who wrote a book once upon a time." Wild Mind, Natalie Goldberg

"Friday afternoons found Ruth at her local Library, which was housed above a Chinese restaurant and a beauty parlor. While her mother had her hair done downstairs, Ruth would savor her time in the library, the delicious smell of spices wafting up from the restaurant while she read Greek myths and books such as The Secret Garden and Louisa May Alcott's Little Women." My Own Words, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams

"Young Gwen came from a family of readers and book lovers, and announced early on that she intended to become a poet." Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR, May 29, 2017, Remembering the Great Poet Gwondolyn Brooks at 100

“But what [my grandfather] loved to do best was read. In his small apartment, where as a widower he’d lived alone for decades, all the furniture had yielded its original function to serve as a surface for piles of books: gold-leafed Hebrew texts jumbled together with Margaret Atwood and Milan Kundera. My grandfather would sit beneath a halo-shaped fluorescent light at his tiny kitchen table, sipping Lipton tea and snacking on marble cake, a book propped open on the white cotton tablecloth. In his sermons, each a tapestry of ancient and humanist thought, he’d share with his congregation the fruits of that week’s study. He was a shy person who had trouble making eye contact with the audience, but he was so bold in his spiritual and intellectual explorations that when he spoke the congregation swelled to standing-room only… as I grew older, I drew inspiration from my grandfather’s example. He was a quiet man, and a great one. When he died at the age of ninety-four, after sixty-two years at the pulpit, the NYPD had to close the streets of his neighborhood to accommodate the throngs of mourners. He would have been surprised to know this. Today, I think that one of the best things about him was his humility.” Quiet, Susan Cain

*Source: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Laurence Sterne.

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