15 Reasons for Reading

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something — a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things — that you’d thought special, particular to you.
And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you’ve never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it’s as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’

Alan Bennett, The History Boys


Art, Learning & Intelligence Art: ‘A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself. It may be translated into every language, and not only be read but actually breathed from all human lips; — not be represented on canvas or in marble only, but be carved out of the breath of life itself.
Learning: ‘How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.’

(David Thoreau, Walden)

Intelligence: ‘If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.’

(Albert Einstein, cited in Neil Gaiman’s lecture , Guardian, 2013)

Exploration, Hope, Company and Comfort

Exploration: ‘The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.’
Hope, Company and Comfort: ‘So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.’

(Road Dahl, Matilda)

Experience, Identity, Sensitivity and Emathy

Experience: ‘You forget everything. The hours slip by. You travel in your chair through centuries you seem seem to see before you, your thoughts are caught up in the story, dallying with the details or following the course of the plot, you enter into characters, so that it seems as if it were your own heart beating beneath their costumes.’

(Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary)

Identity: ‘My life is a reading list.’

(John Irving, Prayer for Owen Meany)

Empathy: ‘Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.’

(Aldus Huxley, Brave New World)

Sensitivity & Empathy: ‘I think the act of reading imbues the reader with a sensitivity toward the outside world that people who don’t read can sometimes lack. I know it seems like a contradiction in terms; after all reading is such a solitary, internalizing act that it appears to represent a disengagement from day-to-day life. But reading, and particularly the reading of fiction, encourages us to view the world in new and challenging ways…It allows us to inhabit the consciousness of another which is a precursor to empathy, and empathy is, for me, one of the marks of a decent human being.’

(John Connoly, The Book of Lost Things)

Escape, Portability, Magic and Writing

Escape: ‘To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.’

(Somerset Maugham, Books and You)

Portability & Magic: ‘Books are a uniquely portable magic.’

(Stephen King, On Writing: Memoir of the Craft)

Writing: ‘For once the disease of reading has laid upon the system it weakens so that it falls an easy prey to that other scourge which dwells in the ink pot and festers in the quill. The wretch takes to writing.’

(Virginia Woolf, Orlando)


Originally published at 52quotes.blogspot.co.uk on March 3, 2015.

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