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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 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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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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Behind the Bookcase, Part 2: At Home with ANNE OF GREEN GABLES

“‘It’s lovely to be going home and know it’s home,’ she said. ‘I love Green Gables already, and I never loved any place before. No place ever seemed like home. Oh, Marilla, I’m so happy. I could pray right now and not find it a bit hard.’” Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery I still […]

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