“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It’s geometrically progressive — all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”
– Mary Ann Shaffer (from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society)
I loved this book and recommend it highly. It’s about history and family and friendships; and it’s funny and sweet and sometimes sad, but ultimately full of hope. Read it.
A House of Readers
At 9:42 on this May morning
the children’s rooms are concentrating too.
Like a tendril growing toward the sun, Ruth
moves her book into a wedge of light
that settles on the floor like a butterfly.
She turns a page.
Fred is immersed in magic, cool
as a Black Angus belly-deep in a farm pond.
The only sounds: pages turning softly.
This is the quietness
of bottomland where you can hear only the young corn
growing, where a little breeze stirs the blades
and then breathes in again.
I mark my place.
I listen like a farmer in the rows.
I love the analogy that a parent is like a farmer helping their children go grow (although I don’t think I’d ever compare one of my children to a cow). And I love the idea that books are one of the best ways to do that. Books were a huge part of my childhood. I want a home like this some day with my own children.
I’ve never heard of this poet before, but I just found the above poem this morning on Tumblr. You can click on his name to visit a little website someone made about him.
“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened; and after you are finished reading one, you will feel that all that happened to you, and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.”
– Ernest Hemingway
This is precisely why I love to read.
“What would happen if the printed book had just been invented in a high-tech world in which people had never done their reading from anything but computer screens? The unquestionable advantages of the computer would not be threatened by this new product but the people, who so love to compare apples with pears, would be quite bowled over by this ultra-modern invention: after years spent chained to the screen they would suddenly have something they could open like a window or a door – a machine you can physically enter!
“For the first time knowledge would be combined with a sense of touch and gravity – this new invention allows you to experience the most incredible sensations, reading becomes a physical experience. And after experiencing knowledge only as a bundle of connections, as a system of interacting networks, suddenly here is individuality: every book is an independent personality, which cannot be taken apart or added to at will. And how relaxing these new reading appliances are, their operating systems never needs updating – the only thing that changes over the course of time is the message that they contain, which is always open to new interpretations.”
– Juan Villoro
(From an article in last month’s Cultura, an Argentinian culture magazine)
“In anything fit to be called by the name of reading, the process itself should be absorbing and voluptuous; we should gloat over a book, be rapt clean out of ourselves, and rise from the perusal, our mind filled with the busiest, kaleidoscopic dance of images, incapable of sleep or of continuous thought. The words, if the book be eloquent, should run thenceforward in our ears like the noise of breakers, and the story, if it be a story, repeat itself in a thousand coloured pictures to the eye.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson (from “A Gossip on Romance”)
“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.”
– C.S. Lewis
So, I’ve been posting a lot of book- and reading-related quotes. I hope you’re enjoying them as much a I am. :)
“A room without books is as a body without a soul.”
“He should live with more books than he reads, with a penumbra of unread pages, of which he knows the general character and content, fluttering round him. This is the purpose of libraries… It is also the purpose of good bookshops, both new and secondhand, of which there are still some, and would that there were more. A bookshop is not like a railway booking-office which one approaches knowing what one wants. One should enter it vaguely, almost in a dream, and allow what is there freely to attract and influence the eye.
“To walk the rounds of the bookshops, dipping in as curiosity dictates, should be an afternoon’s entertainment. Feel no shyness or compunction in taking it. Bookshops exist to provide it; and the booksellers welcome it, knowing how it will end.”
– John Maynard Keynes ( from “Bookshops about more than just purchasing,” Canberra Times)
Schuler Books, a locally-owned bookstore chain here in Michigan, posted this today on their Facebook page. I love this store, and I love having a locally-owned bookstore only a few miles from my house, so I try to patronize the store when I buy new books (which, sadly, isn’t very often).
As Keynes says, there’s a world of difference between browsing in a store and “browsing” on a website. In a physical store, you can take everything in with a glance. You can follow something that catches your eye, rather than clicking on a subject area or a “recently popular” link. You can touch and hold things, make a stack to consider later, see the front/back/inside without waiting for the page to load, and going “back” just takes a step. I don’t think I’m explaining this well, but I do know that I never shop online unless it’s for products I can’t get locally or to get more information on a known product.
Besides, call me old a romantic, but I think books loose a lot when you convert them to data on a computer/tablet screen. Heck, everything does. There’s a difference between owning a CD (a tangible, physical thing, with a case and artwork, that takes up space in your home) and owning a bunch of mp3s you play in iTunes. The first is a possession; the second is just information. I always want to have the actual CD.