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Inspiration begins with “I wonder”

January 20, 2020

Wistawa Szymborska, in her 1996 Nobel Laureate acceptance talk spoke of the people in the world whom inspiration visits.  Though these people are blessed, inspiration has little to do with luck. She speaks of the how inspiration is born from a continuous “ I don’t know.”

Readers are in a continuous state of I don’t know; they are always seeking an understanding of characters who often are very different from themselves. One measure of a good reader is how they strive to know what they don’t yet know. Readers are interested in going way beyond the plot line which is a place to begin to know what happened but which is never an end point.  What happened needs to be followed with Who are these characters, how do I understand them?

Good readers have questing spirits. They are not content with knowing only what they know. They are not afraid to inhabit their restless, questing state of mind. A story is less about what happened than the desire to know and maybe even love characters who are so different.

Children are blessed with a perpetual I don’t know but all too often they lose this precious quality and as Szymborska notes, many people, all too often, replace it with I don’t want to find out anything  else, since that might diminish the force of their arguments. As Szymborska says “ I value the little phrase “ I don’t know.”  Imagine, if Isaac Newton had never said to himself, I don’t know.  

Reading & optimizing brain function

October 7, 2019

The value of reading fiction is receiving much attention these days and research suggests that people who read fiction are better at thinking creatively and they have more insight about others and their perspectives. In addition, brain science tells us that fiction, reading and talking about a story is an activity that helps integrate the […]


Reading as a powerful skill

July 30, 2019

If you were given the choice between the power of flying, invisibility or being able to read, which power would you choose? As intriguing as the first two might be, I think reading wins hands down in terms of granting you access to the wisdom of the smartest people who ever lived.  Reading might just […]


The Courage to be curious

July 8, 2019

Curiosity drives one to know what is not easily apprehended. It takes courage to go where your curiosity takes you. Good readers are curious people, they strive to know. While reading an essay on the significance of reading in a person’s life, I came across an anecdote of a child who dares to ask big […]


A new U.S. poet laureate, Joy Harjo

June 19, 2019

Joy Harjo will become the 23rd poet laureate of the United States, making her the first Native American to hold the position. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation. In her own words— “It’s such an honoring for Native people in this country, when we’ve been so disappeared and disregarded,” Harjo says. “And yet we’re the root […]


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