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Read These Leaves: An Introduction

It is with utter delight that we announce a new offering for the readers of tête-à-tête &PLATE. There should be no surprise when we confess to being avid, almost obsessive, fans of literature with self-diagnosed voracious lettered appetites. We do not consider reading to be a 'guilty pleasure' or something to do before bedtime to help one sleep. No. Reading is nothing to be guilty about as there is nothing lazy, shameful or selfish in this act – which some of you may have been led to believe by certain misguided individuals – and nor is it an escape from work and activity. Reading is work and activity – as Jeanette Winterson proudly proclaims whenever she can: Reading is work we do for our souls. It is one of the only opportunities we have as humans to embody the perspective of another, and foster a skill which is fundamental to our existence: empathy.

With these thoughts in mind, we would love to invite you to read with us. To read works of literature that have encouraged us to think more about ourselves and other people; that have fostered a sense of self-hood as well as a greater understanding of how we and others operate in human society. The books that have shaped us and stayed with us in a visceral way and that have promoted analysis and dialogue. We want to share a dialogue with you about these literary monuments and express the importance of reading, of doing work for one’s soul, every month of the year.

Read These Leaves is an offering inspired by the cognitions of Walt Whitman in the preface to his masterpiece, Leaves of Grass. Whitman instructs his readers to:

 “read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body…”

We, at te-à-tête &PLATE would like you to do the same with us, every month. We will post the title of the chosen book and provide a reflective essay in response a month later – so please read along with us. It would be such a delight to share these words, thoughts and insights with you all.

We are starting with a book that has been influencing human thought since 1963: Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar.