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Trolley, Spring 2019

Once you have completed your formal education and you're no longer obligated to read a single sentence for the rest of your life, why do you still read books?

Oops, maybe you don't: Research shows one in four Americans haven’t read a book in the past year.

For the 75% of us who picked up a book recently, we posed this question for our third edition of TrolleyWhat book or poem has helped you rethink or reconsider your world?

Readers responded. The 19 contributors represent a cross-section of the audiences that fill seats at New York State Writers Institute events: community members of all ages, University at Albany faculty, staff, and students.

They shared stories of iconic writers and poets -- Tolstoy, Orwell, Mary Oliver, Langston Hughes --


Pamela Paul.  (Getty Images)

About us
 A web magazine of essay, opinion, literature, culture, and politics, published by the New York State Writers Institute based at the University at Albany.

- Editor: Paul Grondahl

- Executive Editor: William Kennedy

- Managing Editor: Michael Huber

- Contributing Editors: Cassie Andrusz Ho-Ching and Edward Schwarzschild


as well as more recent writers whose words make a lasting connection.

Pamela Paul, editor of The New York Times Book Review, visited the Institute in April to talk about her memoir, My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues. Bob is her "book of books," a journal of every book she read (or started reading) since high school. Can you relate to her description of meeting a new book?

“We need to touch it, to examine the weight of its paper and the way text is laid out on the page. People like me open books and inhale the binding, favoring the scents of certain glues over others, breathing them in like incense even as the chemicals poison our brains. We consume them.”

Let serendipity guide you: Click on a selection on our bookshelf. Or read the titles and excerpts further below.

We hope you enjoy the variety of stories  presented in Trolley Spring 2019. Thank you for visiting.

-- Michael Huber 

NYS Writers Institute, May 20, 2019

The Trolley bookshelf

"It started consuming me after college and when I was in the army. I was devouring everybody on the shelf, and even into the sixties I would have thirty or forty books out of the library and I wanted to read them all. ”

William Kennedy

"People without hope not only don’t write novels, but what is more to the point, they don’t read them. They don’t take long looks at anything, because they lack the courage. The way to despair is to refuse to have any kind of experience, and the novel, of course, is a way to have experience.”


Flannery O'Connor

"Reading is a form of prayer, a guided meditation that briefly makes us believe we're someone else, disrupting the delusion that we're permanent and at the center of the universe. Suddenly (we're saved!) other people are real again, and we're fond of them.”

George Saunders

"What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

Anne Lamott

"Be with me, words, a little longer; you
have given me my quitclaim in the sun,
sealed shut my adolescent wounds, made light
of grownup troubles, turned to my advantage
what in most lives would be pure deficit,
and formed, of those I loved, more solid ghosts."

John Updike

"Life is not what one lived, but what One remembers and how One remembers it in order to recount it.”

Gabriel García Márquez

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