Ruminations on Roosevelt

“I am a part of everything that I have read.” – Theodore Roosevelt

I asked my students to respond to this quote this week. And the more I think about it, the more I tend to wonder if it should be restated. What if it said “Everything that I have read is a part of me”?

When I reminisce on the books and stories I hold most dear (To Kill a Mockingbird,  Antigone, and A Man Called Ove to name just a few), it’s easy to pick out the fragments of those pieces that have stuck with me long after the last page. Injustice in the world always recalls Atticus fighting for Tom Robinson. Stories of women like Malala speaking out in patriarchal countries always evoke Antigone openly defying the laws of Thebes. And moments of compassion and understanding always remind me of Ove begrudgingly caring for a stray cat. Every cover I open, page I turn, tear I shed leaves another sliver like a tiny splinter in my soul. My entire being is simply an amalgam of each and every character I’ve met and situation I’ve encountered. Am I human because I read, or does reading make me human?

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