Tag Archives: reading

No other reason than sheer enjoyment

“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.

Like a tendril growing toward the sun

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.

Jim Wayne Miller

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.

Suddenly here is individuality

“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)

Rapt clean out of ourselves

“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

“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. :)

Date a Girl Who Reads

This is different from what I usually post, in that it was written recently (probably this year), and as far as I know, it’s only ever been published online.  If found in on a Tumblr blogIf you have more facts on it, let me know.

Apparently, it was written in response to another short essay called You Should Date an Illiterate Girl., which is either sarcastic or very bitter. (Warning: There’s quite a bit of bad language in that one.)

Date a Girl Who Reads
by Rosemarie Urquico

Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second-hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but, by God, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.

 

The World Made Small

A book is the world made small;
So that even indoors on a rainy day,
You can travel around it twice each way,
And never get wet at all.

{I’m attending the Calvin College Festival of Faith & Writing today, so here’s a little poem I learned years ago about books. This was on a poster hung up behind the desk at my library when I was a teenager, and I read it every time I stood in line to check out books, which was a lot. It’s a poem for children, but not any less true. Does anyone know who wrote it? The poster didn’t say.}

Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night

I love books, and here are a few of my favorite things said about them, each by a famous author.

“When you sell a man a book you don’t sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue – you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night – there’s all heaven and earth in a book, a real book.”
– Christopher Morley

“Of all the inanimate objects, of all men’s creations, books are the nearest to us, for the contain our very thoughts, our ambitions, our imagination, our illusions, our fidelity to truth, and our persistent leaning toward error. But most of all, they resemble us in their precarious hold on life.”
– Joseph Conrad

“I love to lose myself in other men’s minds.”
– Charles Lamb

And, because it expresses my feeling so well, one from Lewis.

“You can’t get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
– C. S. Lewis