Hello from the library! First, if you haven’t been by the library yet, please feel free to come visit us. Next, for our newest members of the Manhattan Country School community, these are the annual Holiday Shopping Lists. Several years ago, some parents asked me for recommendations for books for holiday gifts. The lists have grown and expanded to include one for grown-ups as well. I hope you enjoy them! Of course, if you have any questions about other books and anything else related to literature, please let me know.
“When I think about how I understand my role as a citizen, setting aside being president, and the most important set of understandings that I bring to that position of citizen, the most important stuff I’ve learned I think I’ve learned from novels. It has to do with empathy. It has to do with being comfortable with the notion that the world is complicated and full of grays, but there’s still truth there to be found, and that you have to strive for that and work for that. And the notion that it’s possible to connect with some[one] else even though they’re very different from you.”
—President Barack Obama
This quote came from a conversation between President Barack Obama and Marilynne Robinson, author of Housekeeping and Gilead (and one of my favorite writers ever.) The president wanted to meet her and talk to her after reading several of her books. It seems to me that this is the very essence of why reading books is critical to us as humans. It is through literature that we can find such valuable connections to the outside world and ultimately, ourselves.
Reading a book at a young age is essentially a social undertaking. Before a child can read, this act is usually done with a grownup. As they get a little older, children are usually reading what their peers are reading, unless of course, they have a pushy librarian! It is only when we reach our teens and then adulthood that reading a book becomes a much more solitary operation. Yet, embedded in this act is the hope of making the kinds of connections that the president was talking about—to the past, to other cultures, to information and to some possible answers and questions.
When I first took the job as librarian, I could never have imagined how being a witness to daily connections of these kinds would affect me in such positive ways. This holiday season, I truly hope that you connect with a fantastic book. Happy reading, citizens and please come visit us in the new library space!