Thursday, February 13, 2020

It’s a rainy day. I’m at the local NYC branch library which is two blocks from my apartment. It’s a small library. You’re more apt to order a book from the system’s online site and pick it up here than find it on the shelf. I’m an unusual regular. Neighborhood residents in market-rate apartments don’t come in to stay; they pick up a book they ordered and leave. The people who stay are maybe homeless, maybe addicts, maybe recent immigrants, maybe people needing help with their taxes or help with some government form. Upstairs there are pre-pre-school children’s programs. Nannies with darker skin than the little kids in the strollers are lined up many mornings 10-20 deep waiting for the doors to open.

Monday, February 10, 2020

I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading has opened to me. I knew right there in prison that reading had changed forever the course of my life. As I see it today, the ability to read awoke inside me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.’
-Malcolm X

Sunday, February 2, 2020

‘My brother was one of the bigger influences in my life, in as much as he told me I didn't have to read the choice of books that I was recommended at school, and that I could go out to the library and go and choose my own, and sort of introduced me to authors that I wouldn't have read probably. You know, the usual things like the Jack Kerouacs, the Ginsbergs, the e.e. cummings and stuff.’
                                                         ― David Bowie

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

‘The greatest gift is the passion for reading.
It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites,
it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind.
It is a moral illumination.’
                               ― Elizabeth Hardwick        

Thursday, January 23, 2020

‘In Tereza’s eyes, books were the emblems of a secret brotherhood. For she had but a single weapon against the world of crudity surrounding her: the novels. She had read any number of them, from Fielding to Thomas Mann. They not only offered the possibility of an imaginary escape from a life she found unsatisfying; they also had a meaning for her as physical objects: she loved to walk down the street with a book under her arm. It had the same significance for her as an elegant cane from the dandy a century ago. It differentiated her from others.’
― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Among the many worlds which man did not receive as a gift of nature, but which he created with his own mind, the world of books is the greatest. Every child, scrawling his first letters on his slate and attempting to read for the first time, in so doing, enters an artificial and complicated world; to know the laws and rules of this world completely and to practice them perfectly, no single human life is long enough. Without words, without writing, and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity. And if anyone wants to try to enclose in a small space in a single house or single room, the history of the human spirit and to make it his own, he can only do this in the form of a collection of books.’
                                     -Herman Hesse

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

It’s not quite what it thinks of itself

How could a proudly liberal city like New York not be doing right by all its school kids? How could it allow so many of its school kids’ reading levels to year after year be so below average? And how could it allow its system to be, some say, the most segregated system in the country? And how can its neighborhood libraries have such paltry hours? Not open evenings or on Sunday. How liberal, how progressive is all that? Why haven’t the daily papers held the city’s feet to the fire about school kids? Why did the papers write a thousand articles about ‘Hamilton’ instead of doing that?

Monday, January 6, 2020

FIRST DAY BACK ON CHAMBERS STREET IN TWO WEEKS. Longest I’ve been away. I really enjoyed the holidays here and in Cleveland. But this is what I’m supposed to do. So it’s good to be back.