Jay Rainey passes out Pledge Week bookmarks

From the Desk of Jay Rainey – November 22, 2019

This morning, Ruth and I had a wonderful time handing out bookmarks to MICDS families in the Lower School and Middle School carpool lines as an expression of gratitude to parents for participating in Pledge Week. These bookmarks list the titles of 10 of my favorite books on one side and a quotation from one of them, Moby-Dick, on the other: “Queequeg was a native of Rokovoko, an island far away to the West and South. It is not down in any map; true places never are.”

Jay Rainey passes out Pledge Week bookmarksAs I planned to write this week’s letter to you, it occurred to me that I should be more expansive and cite some favorite quotations from all 10 of the books that I included on the Pledge Week bookmark – plus one more from Moby-Dick, of course, because how could I have left the word “whale” out of my first one? So here they are, listed in alphabetical order: 10 of my favorite books with a favorite quotation from each.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

“Before us the thick dark current runs. It talks up to us in a murmur become ceaseless and myriad, the yellow surface dimpled monstrously into fading swirls travelling along the surface for an instant, silent, impermanent and profoundly significant, as though just beneath the surface something huge and alive waked for a moment of lazy alertness out of and into light slumber again.”

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

“Clevinger had a mind, and Lieutenant Scheisskopf had noticed that people with minds tended to get pretty smart at times. Such men were dangerous, and even the new cadet officers whom Clevinger had helped into office were eager to give testimony against him. The case against Clevinger was open and shut. The only thing missing was something to charge him with.”

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

“I am at the moment writing a lengthy indictment against our century. When my brain begins to reel from my literary labors, I make an occasional cheese dip.”

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Roads go ever ever on, / Over rock and under tree, / By caves where never sun has shone, / By streams that never find the sea; / Over snow by winter sown, / And through the merry flowers of June, / Over grass and over stone, / And under mountains in the moon.”

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

“You want to know what weakness is? Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves.”

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

“Oh, man! admire and model thyself after the whale! Do thou, too, remain warm among ice. Do thou, too, live in this world without being of it. Be cool at the equator; keep thy blood fluid at the Pole.”

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

“It is a thousand pities never to say what one feels.”

Native Son by Richard Wright

“We must deal here with the raw stuff of life, emotions and impulses and attitudes as yet unconditioned by the strivings of science and civilization.”

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

“As soon as I said this I realised I’d made a mistake…. It was like when you make a move in chess and just as you take your finger off the piece, you see the mistake you’ve made, and there’s this panic because you don’t know yet the scale of disaster you’ve left yourself open to.”

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

“He picked up a handful of snow – and another, and still another. He packed it round and firm and put the snowball in his pocket for tomorrow. Then he went into his warm house.”

Always reason, always compassion, always courage. Read a book this weekend! Better yet, let a book read you. What are we if not the sum of our stories and the stories of others?

Jay Rainey
Head of School