A Reader on Reading

Pairing words with experience and experience with words, we, readers, sift through stories that echo or prepare us for an experience, or tell us of experiences that will never be ours, as we know all to well, except on the burning page.

I have always felt that the edition in which I read a book for the first time remains, for the rest of my life, the original one.

Sometimes it seems enough. In the midst of uncertainty and many kinds of fear, threatened by loss, change, and the welling of pain within and without for which one can offer no comfort, readers know that at least there are, here and there, a few safe places, as real as paper and as bracing as ink, to grant us roof and board in our passage through the dark and nameless wood.

There are three rules for writing a good book. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

Somerset Maugham

Once a prejudice is set up, it traps within its boundaries a heterogeneous group of individuals whose single common denominator is determined by the prejudice itself.

When the world becomes incomprehensible, when acts of terror and terrifying responses to that terror fill our days and nights, when we feel unguided and bewildered, we seek a place in which comprehension (or faith in comprehension) has been set down in words.

We seem to live either within or just on this side of despotic societies. We are never secure, even in our small democracies.

But no: what I wanted was the equivalent of comfort food, something I had once enjoyed and could repeatedly and effortlessly revisit, something that could be read for pleasure alone but that would, at the same time, keep my brain alight and humming.