Day 7: A Book I Can Recite/ Quote

Although there are books that I have read repeatedly, from which I can quote (or at least paraphrase) bits and pieces, such as Huxley’s Island, Tom Robbins’ Another Roadside Attraction, or maybe even Shakespeare’s Hamlet or Henry V, there are none that I can really quote with any degree of respectable accuracy, from memory (ok, maybe with the exception of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs & Ham).

The words that I do tend to internalize, verbatim, tend to come from poetry instead of prose. I can recall with relative ease many of the works by poets such as Allen Ginsberg, Lord Byron, William Carlos Williams, and Percy Shelley. It’s the lyrical, almost musical, nature of poetry that makes it easier for me to remember. I have an uncanny ability to recall song lyrics, even from terrible songs, after only a couple of listens. Anything set to music seems to go right into my long-term memory, and poetry shares that same musical quality.

Writing this post is making me remember a wonderful poetry anthology titled Beowulf to Beatles: Approaches to Poetry. I came across this book by chance. I had just moved to DeKalb, Illinois and was feeling incredibly homesick until I found this great old used bookstore right on the main street. I remember walking in and feeling intoxicated by the smell of the old books with their yellowed pages. My homesickness melted away as I browsed the shelves, and I walked out with an old ratty copy of the book, who’s $1.50 price tag fit right into my budget at the time. In this book, as the title implies, the poetry of Byron sits comfortably next to the lyrics of Bob Dylan, just as they do in my mind.

It’s an old textbook, I believe, but a great addition to anyone’s library, certainly anyone who loves either poetry or music. I loaned my copy to someone years ago and haven’t seen it since, but inspired by this post, I just re-ordered it; a used copy, just like I remember it.

A Million Reasons to Read a Book

The subject of reading comes up quite often on this blog, and yesterday was no exception. Whether or not you sided with Fanjoo in the amazon vs. independent bookseller debate, one common ground that I think we all shared was that getting people to read is a good thing. If nothing else, that Slate article set off an interesting thought process, which last night may have found its logical, and positive, conclusion. If the goal is, as I said in the first post about reading, getting books into people’s hands, then the folks at World Book Night definitely have the right idea.

World Book Night is an annual celebration designed to spread a love of reading and books.

Begun last year in the UK to much success, it’s being launched this year in the US. On April 23, 2012 tens of thousands of people in both countries, armed with 20 paperbacks a piece (given to them by local, participating bookstores and libraries), will take to the streets with a single goal… to get the books, one million in each country, into the hands of people who are not normally readers. The day was selected to coincide with World Book Day, created by UNESCO in 1995 to celebrate and promote reading, writing, and publishing. The date also coincides with the anniversary of the deaths of Cervantes and Shakespeare.

The idea behind WBN is a good one.

Reading changes lives and at the heart of World Book Night lies the simplest of ideas and acts – that of putting a book into another person’s hand and saying ‘this one’s amazing, you have to read it’.

They are looking for volunteers to distribute the books in April. If you’re in the US, here is the link to register to be a “giver.” I signed up last night.

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