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Behind the Bookcase, Part 13: The Art and Imagination Of Man

This is the final installment of a series that began with Behind the Bookcase, Part 1: In Search of A Hiding Place. I had heard the gospel pretty much all my life.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall have eternal life.” But I never […]

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Behind the Bookcase, Week 12: The Guide by R. K. Narayan

  After all these years, I still believe with Lauren Myracle that the development of empathy is one of literature’s crowning achievements.  I believe with J. K. Rowling that imagination is an extraordinary gift: “Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other […]

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Behind the Bookcase, Week 11: Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums

“All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?”  The Beatles, Eleanor Rigby Last week, for better or worse, I tried to talk about how I came to a skepticism about language as a teenager.  Looking back, though, the post was really more focused on […]

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Behind the Bookcase, Week 10: A Clockwork Orange

Then I looked at its top sheet, and there was the name—A CLOCKWORK ORANGE—and I said: ‘That’s a fair gloopy title. Who ever heard of a clockwork orange?’ A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess is a razor sharp book. It’s not something I’d recommend to most readers. However, it is a famous book. A book […]

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Behind the Bookcase, Week 9: Gender and Nature

“I don’t like our room a bit. I wanted one downstairs that opened on the piazza and had roses all over the window, and such pretty old-fashioned chintz hangings! but John would not hear of it.  He said there was only one window and not room for two beds, and no near room for him […]

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Behind the Bookcase, Week 8: A Death in the Family

Most YA readers in America stop right here.  From junior high and high school literature, they gain a few basic sentiments–sentiments which may or not be held or recognized by non-readers in their lives.  What are those sentiments?  I’ve tried to detail them up til now: 1) race is just color, signifying nothing; 2)  class […]

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Behind the Bookcase, Part 7: The Scarlet Letter

“On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter A.” –Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter What is the wall between saint and sinner made of? The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne begins with a lengthy prologue, given in the voice […]

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Behind the Bookcase, Part 6: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

“She had become accustomed to being lonely. She was used to walking alone and to being considered ‘different.’ She did not suffer too much.”  Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Ch. 20 What is the wall between rich and poor made of? In my world as a middle schooler, it was largely made of […]

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Behind the Bookcase, Part 5: To Kill a Mockingbird

“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” – Ch 10, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee One afternoon […]

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Behind the Bookcase, Part 4: What Are We Hiding From?

In my previous post, Anne Frank and I, Behind the Bookcase I wrote about my experience visiting Amsterdam.  How I passed through a small door hidden by a bookcase.  Behind that bookcase, the Franks began a life of hiding which allowed Anne to escape Nazi ideology for a time. Literature I read as a youth, […]

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Anne Frank and I: Behind the Bookcase, Part 3

“We’re so fortunate here, away from the turmoil. We wouldn’t have to give a moment’s thought to all this suffering if it weren’t for the fact that we’re so worried about those we hold dear, whom we can no longer help. I feel wicked sleeping in a warm bed, while somewhere out there my dearest […]

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