Why Read Books?

In these days of speed, flash entertainment and fast pleasure, how does reading fit into our lives? What is its purpose?

Reading is absurd, isn’t it? Page after page of symbols. Voices in our heads that aren’t our own. Why persist? We may read for entertainment, to pass the time, to visit other worlds, to expand our sense of what is possible. We hunt for treasure, rarely satisfied, but seeking new things to which we can aspire, clues and answers to what our lives are meant to be. At best, perhaps, we read to challenge ourselves and to be changed. ~ Chris Dodge, Utne Magazine

Here is a list of quotes on books & reading. Perhaps some clues lie within:

“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” – W. Somerset MAUGHAM

Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.
~ Henry David THOREAU (1817 – 1862), Walden: Reading, 1854

If well used, books are the best of all things; if abused, among the worst. – EMERSON

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho MARX

“The end of reading is not more books, but more life.” – Holbrook JACKSON

If the riches of the Indies, or the crowns of all the kingdom of Europe, were laid at my feet in exchange for my love of reading, I would spurn them all. – Francois FENELON

Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life. – Mortimer J. ADLER

A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors. – Henry Ward BEECHER

“It is a great thing to start life with a small number of really good books which are your very own.” – Sir Arthur Conan DOYLE

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” – CICERO

“No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting.” – Lady Mary Wortley MONTAGU

“The real risks for any artist are taken…in pushing the work to the limits of what is possible, in the attempt to increase the sum of what it is possible to think. Books become good when they go to this edge and risk falling over it–when they endanger the artist by reason of what he has, or has not, artistically dared.”
– Salman RUSHDIE

All books are divisible into two classes, the books of the hour, and the books of all time. – John RUSKIN

One of life’s quiet excitements is to stand somewhat apart from yourself and watch yourself softly becoming the author of something beautiful, even if it is only falling ash. – Norman MACLEAN, A River Runs Through It

My main reason for adopting literature as a profession was that, as the author is never seen by his clients, he need not dress respectably. – George Bernard SHAW (1856 – 1950)

Knowing I lov’d my books, he furnish’d me From mine own library with volumes that I prize above my dukedom. – William SHAKESPEARE (1564 – 1616), “The Tempest”, Act 1 scene 2

The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them. – Mark TWAIN (1835 – 1910)

One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words. – Johann Wolfgang von GOETHE (1749 – 1832)

“You think your pains and heartbreaks are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who have ever been alive.” – James BALDWIN

“Properly, we should read for power. Man reading should be man intensely alive. The book should be a ball of light in one’s hand.” – Ezra POUND

In the highest civilization, the book is still the highest delight. He who has once known its satisfactions is provided with a resource against calamity. – Ralph Waldo EMERSON (1803 – 1882), Letters and Social Aims: Quotation and Originality, 1876

To feel most beautifully alive means to be reading something beautiful, ready always to apprehend in the flow of language the sudden flash of poetry. – Gaston BACHELARD

“A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.”
~~Henry David THOREAU

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers. – Charles W. ELIOT, The Happy Life, 1896

Know of some great quotes on books? Send ’em on and we’ll post it.

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