Friday, December 9, 2011

“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” — Confucius

I came across this list of inspiring quotes on reading by writers. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • “If one reads enough books one has a fighting chance. Or better, one’s chances of survival increase with each book one reads.” — Sherman Alexie
  • “Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” — Joyce Carol Oates
  • “There is no friend as loyal as a book.” – Ernest Hemingway
  • “Picking five favorite books is like picking the five body parts you’d most like not to lose.” — Neil Gaiman
I just finished Tatiana de Rosnay's book, "Sarah's Key." My manager inadvertently spoiled the ending, but I suppose I would have seen it coming. The story alternates between two time periods, the first being Paris, July 1942, during the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup. Nazis had ordered the French police to round up Jews--men, women, and children--and then ship them to Auschwitz for extermination. It's a horrible piece of history, one that I was only vaguely familiar with. The book successfully illustrates and personalizes this horror as an eleven year old girl narrates her experience.

Most of the story is set in the 21st century, as a middle-aged woman researches the Vel' d'Hiv for a magazine. Julia is American but has lived in Paris her entire adult life, having married a French man. As she researches the roundup, Julia discovers that most Parisians don't know about the roundup or, at least, would rather forget that it happened.

My mom can't read stories or watch movies about the Holocaust, and I've met a few people in her generation that feel the same way. It's too painful. Too horrible. But I think it's important to keep that shameful history close not only to honor the victims and survivors but also to recognize the evil that humans are still capable of.


Anonymous said...

I'm confused how Confucius said this considering paper and public literacy did not arrive in China until well after the death of Confucius.....

August/Perfect Sand said...

My fault for posting a quote without double-checking it. That one is apparently often misattributed to Confucius. It's actually Atwood H. Townsend, editor of Good Reading.