“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write;
a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”
~ Samuel Johnson ~
I thought of this quote when I read “Unbalanced Literacy: Reflections on the Common Core” by Thomas Newkirk in the March issue of Language Arts yesterday. If you have access to this journal, I highly recommend reading this piece. Newkirk includes this quote from Michel de Montaigne, which I love:
“Bees ransack flowers here and flowers there: but then they make their own honey, which is entirely theirs and no longer thyme or marjoram. Similarly the boy will transform his borrowings; he will confound their forms so that the end-product is entirely his.”
Newkirk included this quote to support his view of reading as a “transaction between reader and text,” but it applies to writing also.
Halfway through this month-long challenge, I feel desperate for time to just sit and read, for time to “ransack” a book, to borrow words and transform them into something entirely mine. My morning waiting for the furnace repairman yesterday made me crave this even more. When you have a taste of something delicious, you want more! (Furnace is working again, by the way.) The slices I’ve been reading are amazing and full of inspiration, but I miss having time to read a book. What to do? Write a quick slice about what I’m reading, then go read.
I usually have three or four books going at the same time. Here’s what’s on my nightstand today:
Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal, by Margarita Engle (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014)
Echo, Echo: Reverso Poems about Greek Myths, by Marilyn Singer (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2016)
The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets, by Ted Kooser (University of Nebraska Press, 2007)
What book(s) is/are on your nightstand? Happy ransacking (reading), everyone!
Thank you to Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Anna, Beth, Kathleen, and Deb for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday throughout the year and every day during the month of March. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.