“I think about a world to come / Where the books were found by the golden ones / Written in pain, written in awe / By a puzzled man who questioned / What we were here for…”
You’ve no doubt heard — David Bowie passed away last night after fighting cancer. He was 69 years old.
In response, Twitter has reminded us that Bowie was a serious book lover. Geoffrey Marsh, who curated an Art Gallery of Ontario exhibit on Bowie a few years back said Bowie was “‘a voracious reader’ who is reputed to read as much as ‘a book a day.'”
So we want to say goodbye the best way we know how: by talking books. Here is a list at Brain Pickings of Bowie’s 75 favorite books, and an article at Open Book Toronto that expands the list to 100. There is lots here that you would probably expect — Orwell’s 1984 and Nabokov’s Lolita — as well as a few interesting choices like The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Hitchens’ The Trial of Henry Kissinger.
These are the recommendations on books from Bowie. Any recommendations from readers out there on the best of the more than 60 books that have come out about Bowie? Here’s one we liked.
American public schools, apparently. According to the Washington Post:
New English standards that have been adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia require that public schools gradually boost the amount of nonfiction taught in K-12, until 70 percent of reading by 12th grade is “informational text.”
These new standards for kids who don’t read good and want to learn to do other stuff good too include the following approved texts:
“Common Sense,” by Thomas Paine
The Declaration of Independence, by Thomas Jefferson
“Declaration of Sentiments,” by the Seneca Falls Conference
“What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” by Frederick Douglass
“Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences,” by John Allen Paulos
“Working Knowledge: Electronic Stability Control,” by Mark Fischetti
“Politics and the English Language,” by George Orwell
Count me vigorously in favor of this, so long as the 70 percent requirement is met at least in-part outside of English or literature classes. Certainly a science class with some Richard Feynman would be much improved, as would a government course with Orwell. I do hesitate to give high school kids Thomas Paine, because they are caught in that vulnerable nexus of age, disaffection and chafing under adult authority that leads to the acceptance of stupid ideas from places like Ayn Rand and the Tea Party. Then again, maybe early exposure will help them get it out of their systems before they actually have to face an adult world with real ideas.
– Michael Moats