For River and Inara
Bookworms of the world, I would like your help in making this gift for my disabled daughter and her sister. (It doesn’t cost a penny, and it will take only a few moments.)
As my family tumbles from one medical issue to the next and my youngest daughter’s situation remains serious, I oscillate between wanting to dig a hole and scream into it until my throat is hoarse like the railroad workers in Maxine Hong Kingston’s China Men … and wanting to book a long Pacific cruise, which would arguably be more productive though also prohibitively more expensive.
Instead, as I look for a way to channel and direct all of my anguish, fury, helplessness, and fierce need to protect in the face of my daughter’s ongoing illness, I think I’ll ask everyone to help me make this gift for my daughters.
I have said that no matter how bleak things may appear, one thing that we can celebrate with our whole hearts is our access to nearly unlimited stories, that in an often-dark century, that is our single greatest “Wow,” an advancement our ancestors could not have imagined.
I believe that.
For that reason, I want to collect a little Library introducing my daughters to so many books. Not just any books, but books that people care deeply about. These can be young adult novels, novels for older readers; they can be any genre, from the suspenseful to the gruesome to the romantic to the fantastical to noir. It doesn’t really matter. Because chances are, some day, my daughters will want to read something from any or all of those. And one day, they and I and their mother will read this page together. If our Inara is still mostly blind, we will read this page to her.
Growing the Library of Pages
I would like to collect a few … no, dozens … no, hundreds … no, thousands … of quotations from novels for my daughters. I want to make a Library of Pages and a digital zoo that is jammed full of roaring, laughing, giggling, weeping, and whispering stories. It would be easy to find lots of random quotes online, but I want this Library to be a library of quotes that mean something to many readers who we know or who know my books or who know my daughters, or readers who know those readers. (If you are a novelist, I ask only that it not be a quote from your book, but from another book you treasure.)
I want it to be a gift rather than a Google search. That makes it personal, that makes it real.
So here is what I am asking you to do:
1. Read the story of my little Inara (if you’d like to), which you can do here and here — or watch the epilepsy awareness video about Inara that my wife made. You can also meet my older daughter, River, by scrolling down to the middle of this interview; River, who is nearly four, is fiercely protective of her sister.
2. Type a favorite quote from one of your favorite novels into the Comments below, and tell my daughters where the quote is from.
3. Share this page with other readers you know, so that this Library of Pages can grow more and more vast, until its trees with their page-shaped leaves tower over my girls as a mighty shelter and a wilderness of wonders they might explore.
And it will be special to them because they will know that all of you heard their story and grew this library forest for them, one quote at a time, that this forest was the touch of many caring hands and minds.
Thank you for being a part of this.
Yours in truth and fiction,
UPDATE: A LEATHER-BOUND COPY OF THE LIBRARY:
I have been touched at the level of response to this Library, and I’ve begun copying the Library into an old leatherbound journal that I’ve had at hand waiting for the right purpose for its existence. If, when Inara is older, she remains mostly blind, I will create a Braille copy for her. I’m pretty good with a Braille writer.
75 thoughts on “My Daughters’ Library”
“That was not right, to speak and not understand. He wished that all people, the men and women and hares and owls and dogs, could agree to speak the same words. Then all things would be so easy, to speak and to be understood. Perhaps no one would fight then.” (Henry Treece, The Dream Time)
“It is important to have questionable friends you can trust unconditionally.”
Chuck Klosterman in Downtown Owl
(submitted by Joel Bezaire)
” Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest. Except when you don’t. Because, sometimes, you won’t.” Dr. Seuss from Oh the Places You’ll Go!
My favorite quote is not a quote. It’s a drawing from The Little Prince.
“Accept what people offer. Drink their milkshakes. Take their love.” from She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb.
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It seems appropriate:
I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time.”
Carlos Ruiz Zafón “The Shadow of the Wind”
“..for in dreams we enter a world that is entirely our own” – Albus Dumbledore – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling
I’m sorry that’s not the full quote.. here it is..
“..for in dreams we enter a world that is entirely our own. Let them swim in the deepest ocean or glide over the highest cloud” – Albus Dumbledore – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling
“Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. – Mrs. Whatsit”
― Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
“Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”
– The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
“It kills me sometimes, how people die.”
– The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
“So, basically, I’m risking my life because you pansies don’t want to pick up tampons.”
– The First Days by Rhiannon Frater
“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.”
― Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
“Some people are like Slinkies.They aren’t really good for anything, but they still bring a smile to my face when I push them down a flight of stairs.”
― Patricia Briggs, Iron Kissed
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
“There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
— J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Hobbit.”
“We’re all human, aren’t we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.” -Kingsley Shackle bolt (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, pg. 440)
“Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.” -Dumbledore (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, pg. 723)
“What do we know,” he had said, “of the world and the universe about us? Our means of receiving impressions are absurdly few, and our notions of surrounding objects infinitely narrow. We see things only as we are constructed to see them, and can gain no idea of their absolute nature. With five feeble senses we pretend to comprehend the boundlessly complex cosmos, yet other beings with a wider, stronger, or different range of senses might not only see very differently the things we see, but might see and study whole worlds of matter, energy, and life which lie close at hand yet can never be detected with the senses we have. I have always believed that such strange, inaccessible worlds exist at our very elbows…” -Crawford Tillinghast (From Beyond)
[…] And one more (non-monetary) way to help: My Daughters’ Library […]
“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”
(The Shadow of the Wind)
That is possibly one of the most beautiful things I have read. It is a joy to include it in my daughters’ Library. Thank you for it. It is what I believe about stories.
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