I read the poem in this post earlier this week with my eighth graders, and later in the same day saw this blog post linked on Facebook (it's a list of the "Ten books you absolutely must read" and includes such items as "every single book by your favourite author" and "the one that a friend recommends"). Both express my view that people should read what they enjoy. I have read books before because they were good for me, or because I wanted to be able to say I had read them, and there's nothing inherently wrong with those things, but reading is also a great pleasure, and I want to enjoy it. I don't believe that there is some list of books everyone should read. Everyone should read the Bible (because there's so much in it that is so amazing), but other than that, people's lists are, and should be, idiosyncratic.
Here's Naomi Shihab Nye's take on that:
By Naomi Shihab Nye
A man told me he had calculated
the exact number of books
he would be able to read before he died
by figuring the average number
of books he read per month
and his probable earth span,
(averaging how long
his dad and grandpa had lived,
adding on a few years since he
exercised more than they did).
Then he made a list of necessary books,
nonfiction mostly, history, philosophy,
fiction, and poetry from different time periods
so there wouldn’t be large gaps in his mind.
He had given up frivolous reading entirely.
There are only so many days.
Oh, I felt sad to hear such an organized plan.
What about the books that aren’t written yet,
the books his friends might recommend
that aren’t on the list,
the yummy magazine that might fall
into his hand at a silly moment after all?
What about the mystery search
through the delectable library shelves?
I felt the heartbeat of forgotten precious books
calling for his hand.
Here's today's roundup, hosted by the lovely Irene Latham, who is celebrating her new book. Congratulations, Irene! And I'm so sorry I never sent you a couplet for the zoo poem. When you're too busy to write a couplet, you are too busy.
5 hours ago