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These days, I'm the director of the American Library Association' s Office for Intellectual Freedom. I'm also executive director and secretary of the Freedom to Read Foundation. See "About Me" for contact information.

Monday, August 31, 2015

the Wisdom Within These Walls

Recently, I read the galley proof of my friend Anne McGhee's book The Wisdom Within These Walls. You can pick it up from Amazon here.

I happen to have been around when Annie first started gathering the stories that form the core of the book - interviews with real people in the area. She found some incredible people. One woman was a police dispatcher in Dallas, and on duty the day Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald. One man actually helped get us to the moon. Another tells the heartbreaking story of the Pacific theater in WWII.

Back then, Annie turned the interviews into brief, very powerful monologues. Then, she put together a readers theater group to perform them. These "plays" remain some of the most moving moments of my life.

But she has continued to think about these stories, and her book is about just what wisdom means. Her definition is a gem: "Wisdom is our capacity to take in the experience of life, infuse it with intention, and return it to the world for the benefit of others."

I recommend it highly not just for anybody in Front Range of Colorado, where most of the folks profiled here live. I recommend for every library. This book is an example of the fine, sensitive, even transformative writing that's going on right in our own back yards, and deserves to be shared widely. It even includes a section for discussion -- perfectly appropriate for book clubs, high school classroom discussions, and more. I can think of no better example of the importance of understanding and assisting the self-publishing revolution.

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