Friday, August 31, 2012

Quotation Of The Day: Literature Matters Edition

Admiral James Stavridis, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander, U.S. European Command, discusses what he reads as part of an ongoing Atlantic series. After listing numerous news sources, he gets to fiction and poetry:
I am also a big reader of fiction, and enjoy accurate historical fiction, which affords a chance to learn history painlessly. Generally, make time to read at least one novel a week. Lately I've read The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, and The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker, both coming-of-age novels by young American novelists. I also like the sea-going novels of Patrick O'Brian, like any Navy officer. Other authors I enjoy and read repeatedly include George MacDonald Fraser, Cormac McCarthy, John Updike, Ha Jin, Gary Shteyngart, Elmore Leonard (going strong at 85) and Ian Fleming, among many others.
I also read poetry, especially from countries I am visiting in my current job (about 80 over the past several years). For example, before a recent trip to Madrid I went back and read some of the work of Frederico Garcia Lorca. I just read a book of poetry from a decade ago by Carl Dennis called Practical Gods which impressed me. W.B. Yeats still amazes me with the freshness of his vision a century after much of his work was published.
Looking at Stavridis reading list, I would love to see a discussion between Stavridis and the Common Core advocates who want to reduce the amount of fiction and poetry that high school students read. The discussion could also include those hard-nosed business people who claim that literature has no benefit. I have the feeling the Admiral has a far different point of view.

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