Jackie on books

I’ve always found these words inspiring. I love the sense of wonder and idealism in them.

Excerpt from Books I Read When I was Young: Favorite Books of Famous People
by Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis

“Read for escape, read for adventure, read for romance, but read the great writers. You will find to your delight that they are easier and more joy to read than the second-rate ones. They touch your imagination and your deepest yearnings, and when your imagination is stirred it can lead you down paths you never dreamed you would travel. If you read great language you will develop, without your realizing it, an appreciation of excellence that can shape your life.

“Read Edgar Allan Poe, Jack London, Jules Verne, Ernest Hemingway. And read poetry—in whatever anthology your school gives you. Rhythm is what should first seize you when you read poetry. Do you know ‘Tarantella’ by Hilaire Belloc? Read Countee Cullen, e.e. cumming, Emily Dickinson, Siegfried Sassoon. Do you know ‘The Fog’ by Carl Sandburg? It is modeled on the Japanese haiku which is only allowed to be seventeen syllables long and doesn’t have to rhyme. You could try to write a poem like that.

“If you read, you may want to write. Great painters learned to paint by copying Old Masters in museums. You can learn to write by trying to copy the writers you like. Writing helps you to express your deepest feelings. Once you can express yourself you can tell the world what you want from it or how you would like to change it. All the changes in the world, for good or evil, were first brought about by words.”

(Original photo by Orlando Suero, taken at Georgetown University in May ’54)


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