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John Leonard on Books We Love

posted by Nell Minow

A beautiful tribute to book, television, and movie critic John Leonard in Salon has this lovely quote from him about the books he loved:
My whole life I have been waving the names of writers. From these writers, for almost 50 years, I have received narrative, witness, companionship, sanctuary, shock, and steely strangeness; good advice, bad news, deep chords, hurtful discrepancy, and amazing grace…The books we love, love us back. In gratitude, we should promise not to cheat on them — not to pretend we’re better than they are; not to use them as target practice, agitprop, trampolines, photo ops or stalking horses; not to sell out scruple to that scratch-and-sniff infotainment racket in which we posture in front of experience instead of engaging it, and fidget in our cynical opportunism for an angle, a spin, or a take, instead of consulting compass points of principle, and strike attitudes like matches, to admire our wiseguy profiles in the mirrors of the slicks. We are reading for our lives, not performing like seals for some fresh fish.

  • kim Jackson

    I agree most people would be better off if they read more, but government can only legislate so much of our lives, and parents can’t always watch kids every minute.
    Kim j

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Kim. The best way to get kids to read is to have them see their parents enjoy reading and for their parents to enjoy reading to them. We read aloud to our kids every night until they were in high school and we still talk about those books with great fondness.

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