“The pursuit of knowing was freedom to me, the right to declare your own curiosities and follow them through all manner of books. I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free.”
Between the World and Me, p. 48
By Ta-Nehisi Coates
“They passed the sugar beet factory and then a sign advertising the college.
‘Is that where your father works?’
She nodded. ‘He teaches astronomy.’
‘Oh, the stars.’ Mrs. Kleinfelter said this as if she were saying the word God.”
The Girl Who Slept with God, p. 131
By Val Brelinski
“I can see the spot where my father placed me the day he shot the picture for the code-o-graph, wanting nothing but the wide, blue sky behind me. Wanting me to look as if I could be anywhere. The Texas plains. The Canadian wilderness. The far horizon of Death Valley. Places I have never gone.”
A Master Plan for Rescue, p. 319
By Janis Cooke Newman
I see this cartoon and smile because I understand far too well, then quickly drop the smile for the same reason. ‘Tis the season. Since the start of summer, my most productive reading sessions have taken place in libraries, cars, and airplanes, not the most obvious summertime hangout spots. I generally feel immense pressure to be outdoors when the sun is out, so reading in my room loses its appeal. Reading at the park or the beach sounds wonderful, but as soon as I open my book, the sun’s harsh rays land on the page and explosions of light follow. I position my head in an attempt to cast the perfect shadow. I eavesdrop on conversations. I apply sunscreen. My eyes trail off the page and settle on the blue above, thinking nothing and sometimes everything. Publishers constantly recommend various versions of the best beach reads, and I wonder if these books are intended for distraction, to accommodate spotty reception. There is one reading spot that has emerged as the season’s favorite. I wait for the sun to drop from its highest point, drive less than a mile, and park alongside the marina. I then push my chair back, roll down all of the windows, and as the bay breeze slips into the hot car, I settle in to read until sunset. If we find ourselves lured away from books by the sirens of summer, let us not fret. I imagine many of my favorite authors and their characters would encourage such behavior, as they would do the same, and I would enjoy reading about it.
“It was the first time in my life that I had been aware of my own existence. It was the first time in my life I had realized that I was alive. And if I was alive, then I could die, and I mean forever. Forever dead. Not heaven, not eternal life on some other plane…just darkness, curtain, scene. Permanently. And that was the key to my new religion, I figured. That’s why life was so fucking great. I want that day back. I want to be nine again and be told, Nomi: someday you’ll be gone, you’ll be dust, and then even less than dust. Nothing. There’s no other place to be. This world is good enough for you because it has to be. Go ahead and love it.”
A Complicated Kindness, p. 209
By Miriam Toews