I am clumsy, drop glasses and get drunk on Monday afternoons. I read Seneca and can recite Shakespeare by heart, but I mess up the laundry, don’t answer my phone and blame the world when something goes wrong. I think I have a dream, but most of the days I’m still sleeping. The grass is cut. It smells like strawberries. Today I finished four books and cleaned my drawers.
Do you believe in a God? Can I tell you about Icarus? How he flew too close to the sun?
I want to make coming home your favourite part of the day. I want to leave tiny little words lingering in your mind, on nights when you’re far away and can’t sleep. I want to make everything around us beautiful; make small things mean a little more. Make you feel a little more. A little better, a little lighter. The coffee is warm, this cup is yours. I want to be someone you can’t live without.
I want to be someone you can’t live without.
The girl whose table I occupied was reading a book but I couldn’t help but notice that all this time, she was secretly watching me.
“You are beautiful.”
I took my eyes off my phone and I saw the girl talking to me. I was embarrassed and didn’t know what to say or how to react.
Congratulations on the new library, because it isn't just a library. It is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you -- and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life.
[Letters of Note; Troy (MI, USA) Public Library, 1971]
You don't read Gatsby, I said, to learn whether adultery is good or bad but to learn about how complicated issues such as adultery and fidelity and marriage are. A great novel heightens your senses and sensitivity to the complexities of life and of individuals, and prevents you from the self-righteousness that sees morality in fixed formulas about good and evil.
When writing, there are some scenes that are emotionally overwhelming. They completely overcome the author, and only when they do this can they cause a similar reaction in the reader.
Through this, the author gets to experience multiple lives. If a character's life flashes before their eyes, it flashes before the author's eyes too, and he or she remembers it as his or her own.
With reading, we get to live other lives vicariously, and this is doubly so with writing. It is like a lucid dream, where we guide the outcome. In this, we don't merely write *about* a character -- we momentarily *become* them, and walk as they walk, think as they think, and do as they do. When we return to our own life, we might return a little shaken, likely a little stronger, hopefully a little wiser.
What is certain is that we return better, because experiencing the lives of others makes us understand their aims and dreams, their fears and foils, the challenges and difficulties, and joys and triumphs, that they face. It helps us grow and empathise, and see all the little pictures that make up the bigger one we see from the omniscience of the narrator.
In books I have traveled, not only to other worlds, but into my own. I learned who I was and who I wanted to be, what I might aspire to, and what I might dare to dream about my world and myself. More powerfully and persuasively than from the "shalt nots" of the Ten Commandments, I learned the difference between good and evil, right and wrong. A Wrinkle in Time described that evil, that wrong, existing in a different dimension from our own. But I felt that I, too, existed much of the time in a different dimension from everyone else I knew. There was waking, and there was sleeping. And then there were books, a kind of parallel universe in which anything might happen and frequently did, a universe in which I might be a newcomer but was never really a stranger. My real, true world. My perfect island.
I spent my life folded between the pages of books.
In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.
Life is a book, and there are a thousand pages I have not read. I would read them together with you, as many as I can, before I die -"
She put her hand against his chest, just over his heart, and felt its beat against her palm, a unique time signature that was all its own. "I only wish you would not speak of dying," she said. "But even for that, yes, I know how you are with your words, and, Will- I love all of them. Every word you say. The silly ones, the mad ones, the beautiful ones, and the ones that are only for me. I love them, and I love you.
Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It's like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can't stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.
I read somewhere, one, that crying defies scientific explanation. Tears are only meant to lubricate the eyes. There is no real reason for tear glands to overproduce tears at the behest of emotion.
I think we cry to release the animal parts of us without losing our humanity. Because inside of me is a beast that snarls, and growls, and strains toward freedom, toward Tobias, and, above all, towards life. And as hard as I try, I cannot kill it.
There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life:
The Lord of the Rings
and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."
[Kung Fu Monkey -- Ephemera, blog post, March 19, 2009]
Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores. It has features. This book can go under the microscope. You’d find life under the glass, streaming past in infinite profusion. The more pores, the more truthfully recorded details of life per square inch you can get on a sheet of paper, the more ‘literary’ you are. That’s my definition anyway. Telling detail. Fresh detail. The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies. So now you see why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life.
Why do I read?
I just can't help myself.
I read to learn and to grow, to laugh
and to be motivated.
I read to understand things I've never
been exposed to.
I read when I'm crabby, when I've just
said monumentally dumb things to the
people I love.
I read for strength to help me when I
feel broken, discouraged, and afraid.
I read when I'm angry at the whole
I read when everything is going right.
I read to find hope.
I read because I'm made up not just of
skin and bones, of sights, feelings,
and a deep need for chocolate, but I'm
also made up of words.
Words describe my thoughts and what's
hidden in my heart.
Words are alive--when I've found a
story that I love, I read it again and
again, like playing a favorite song
over and over.
Reading isn't passive--I enter the
story with the characters, breathe
their air, feel their frustrations,
scream at them to stop when they're
about to do something stupid, cry with
them, laugh with them.
Reading for me, is spending time with a
A book is a friend.
You can never have too many.
Sections in the bookstore
- Books You Haven't Read
- Books You Needn't Read
- Books Made for Purposes Other Than Reading
- Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong to the Category of Books Read Before Being Written
- Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered
- Books You Mean to Read But There Are Others You Must Read First
- Books Too Expensive Now and You'll Wait 'Til They're Remaindered
- Books ditto When They Come Out in Paperback
- Books You Can Borrow from Somebody
- Books That Everybody's Read So It's As If You Had Read Them, Too
- Books You've Been Planning to Read for Ages
- Books You've Been Hunting for Years Without Success
- Books Dealing with Something You're Working on at the Moment
- Books You Want to Own So They'll Be Handy Just in Case
- Books You Could Put Aside Maybe to Read This Summer
- Books You Need to Go with Other Books on Your Shelves
- Books That Fill You with Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified
- Books Read Long Ago Which It's Now Time to Re-read
- Books You've Always Pretended to Have Read and Now It's Time to Sit Down and Really Read Them
For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. 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.
Have you really read all those books in your room?”
Alaska laughing- “Oh God no. I’ve maybe read a third of ‘em. But I’m going to read them all. I call it my Life’s Library. Every summer since I was little, I’ve gone to garage sales and bought all the books that looked interesting. So I always have something to read.