Teaser Tuesdays: Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. The idea is to open your current read to a random page and share a few sentences. And try not to include spoilers!

go tell it

I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share this passage with you.

He left Fifth Avenue and walked west towards the movie houses. Here on 42nd Street it was less elegant but no less strange. He loved this street, not for the people or the shops but for the stone lions that guarded the great main building of the Public Library, a building filled with books and unimaginably vast, and which he had never yet dared to enter. He might, he knew, for he was a member of the branch in Harlem and was entitled to take books from any library in the city. But he had never gone in because the building was so big that it must be full of corridors and marble steps, in the maze of which he would be lost and never find the book he wanted. And then everyone, all the white people inside, would know that he was not used to great buildings, or to many books, and they would look at him with pity. He would enter on another day, when he had read all the books uptown, an achievement that would, he felt, lend him the poise to enter any building in the world.

Libraries; books; the intimidation of buildings, books, and the grandeur of the New York Public Library; and the power available to a young man who could read all the books uptown. Lovely, and moving.

One Response

  1. that’s a great one!
    Baldwin really does tell a story with that one passage…

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