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Reading Wisdom

Adapted from Reading Reasons by Kelly Gallagher

A person who doesn’t read is no better off than a person who can’t read. 
--Mark Twain
‘Tis the good reader that makes the good book.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson
Literature is no one’s private ground, literature is common ground; let us trespass freely and fearlessly and find our way for ourselves.
--Virginia Woolf
The reading of all great books is like conversation with the finest men of past centuries. 
--René Descartes 
To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.
--Edmund Burke
I read my way out of poverty long before I worked myself out of poverty.
--Walter Anderson
Books impede the persistence of stupidity.
--Spanish proverb
Nothing can stop a person who wants to be educated. Nothing can help a person who doesn’t.
All great books are challenging and should be challenged.
We read to know we are not alone.
--C.S. Lewis

Laura Barnebey

Students: our Haiku classroom has all of your assignments and grades, as well as links to all of the units.  Use the lefthand side login (the one for teachers and students, not the one for parents).  

My college application essay and letter of recommendation site -- to view, you must be logged into Google with your student ID

Dear Students,

The best thing you can do for yourself--for your grades, for your education, for your life, for your soul--is read.  And then read some more.  Head for the nearest bookshelf--be it in your house, in my classroom, at a library, at a bookstore, or via your smart phone--and find more to read.  I look forward to hearing about your favorite books.

Ms. Barnebey


I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.    
-- Jorge Luis Borges

Curiously enough, one cannot read a book: one can only reread it. A good reader, a major reader, an active and creative reader is a re-reader.
--Vladimir Nabokov

As soon as I open [a book], I occupy the book, I stomp around in it. I underline passages, scribble in the margins, leave my mark…I like to hear myself responding to a book, answering it, agreeing and disagreeing in a manner I recognize as peculiarly my own.
--George Bernard Shaw

A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us.
--Franz Kafka

For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on Earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and how to die. They are full of things you don’t get in real life—wonderful, lyrical language, for instance, right off the bat. And quality of attention: we may notice amazing details during the course of the day but we rarely let ourselves stop and pay attention. An author makes you notice, makes you pay attention, and this is a great gift. My gratitude for good writing is unbounded; I’m grateful for it the way I’m grateful for the ocean. Aren’t you?
 --Anne Lamott
Excerpt from Bird by Bird (15). 

“In books I have traveled, not only to other worlds, but into my own. I learned who I was and who I wanted to be, what I might aspire to, and what I might dare to dream about my world and myself. More powerfully and persuasively than from the "shalt nots" of the Ten Commandments, I learned the difference between good and evil, right and wrong. A Wrinkle in Time described that evil, that wrong, existing in a different dimension from our own. But I felt that I, too, existed much of the time in a different dimension from everyone else I knew. There was waking, and there was sleeping. And then there were books, a kind of parallel universe in which anything might happen and frequently did, a universe in which I might be a newcomer but was never really a stranger. My real, true world. My perfect island.”
Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life

What is poetry?

The best words in the best order.
--Samuel Taylor Coleridge

If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.
--Emily Dickinson

Poetry provides the one permissible way of saying one thing and meaning another.
--Robert Frost

A poem is a small or large machine made of words.
--William Carlos Williams

[Poetry is] the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings... recollected in tranquility.
--William Wordsworth

Poetry is something that cannot be defined without oversimplifying it.  It would be like attempting to define the color yellow, love, the fall of leaves in autumn.
--Jorge Luis Borges

A poem begins with a lump in the throat, a home-sickness or a love-sickness.  It is a reaching-out towards expression; an effort to find fulfillment.  A complete poem is one where the emotion has found its thought and the thought has found the words.
--Robert Frost

The true poem has been crafted into a living entity.  It has magical potency. ineffable spirit.  There is always something mysterious, something inexplicable in a poem.  It is an act--an action--beyond paraphrase because what is said is always inseparable from the way it is being said.  
--Edward Hirsch, How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry


 Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one man consciously, by means of certain external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that other people are infected by these feelings and also experience them.
--Leo Tolstoy, "What is Art?"

Nature is a haunted house -- but Art --
A House that tries to be haunted. 
--Emily Dickinson 

Art is magic delivered from the lie of being truth.
--Theodore Adorno, Minima Moralia