Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Monday, September 26, 2011

The wheels on the bus

I had an experience this morning that reinforced my vote for bus as my preferred mode of transportation in New York City. Cabs are just too expensive and isolating. Subways are too cramped and dehumanizing. But the bus... it's civilized and it even gets its own lane down 5th Avenue making it a speedy and joyous alternative. People often acknowledge one another on buses in a way they don't seem to do as comfortably on the subway, unless it's to shout, "back off buddy!" Maybe it was recognition of this key difference that led me to tap a woman on the shoulder this morning and ask, "Are you Stacy Schiff?" And she was! If you look back a few posts and then again, a few more, you'll see that Stacy Schiff is the author of Cleopatra: A Life, a book I've blogged about and referenced on more than one occasion. I loved this book! I was inspired by this book! I wanted Stacy Schiff to feel like a celebrity this morning because, to me, that's what and who she is: someone to celebrate for bringing stories of fabulously brilliant, committed and misunderstood women like Cleopatra to light. I can only speak for myself, of course, but we had the most delightful conversation as the bus drove on and I believe this was the most satisfying celebrity sighting I've ever had. If you are a woman and you have not yet read Cleopatra: A Life, what are you waiting for?! Dare to be empowered. If you are a man and you have not yet read Cleopatra: A Life, read it! Dare to be dazzled by the strength of a woman - both by Cleopatra and, maybe even more so, by the brilliant author who pulls together all the threads of history to weave a better understanding of fierce and strategic leadership. I've gotta say, I felt empowered all day long!

The easy thing to do now would be to say that hey, I spoke with Stacy Schiff so obviously Cleopatra: A Life is the book pick of today's post. That goes without saying. But since I've already done that and Vicky Alvear Shecter's Cleopatra's Moon (which you really must read) several times, I've decided to go a different way. In honor of buses, today's pick is Richard Michelson's Busing Brewster. Busing Brewster is a picture book that tells the story of Brewster, a first grader who is representative of young African-American children in the 1970s, who were bused to previously-segregated all white schools. All three of these books share success at making history accessible, interesting and relevant.

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