"Libraries are fascinating places: sometimes you feel you are under the canopy of a railway station, and when you read books about exotic places there's a feeling of traveling to distant lands." --Umberto Eco, The Prague Cemetery
I love books that describe scenery and faraway countries so vividly that I can visualize them and begin to scheme about visiting the settings of my favorite books. Of course, with fantasy and science fiction we can also visit places far more exotic than one can reach via a railway station or a plane.
"A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us." --Franz Kafka
"Learning of all enterprises is alone immortal and divine." --Plutarch
No one can take your education away from you, and books are the best teachers in that we get to interpret them for ourselves.
"O blessed Letters, that combine in one
All ages past, and make one live with all;
By you we doe conferre with who are gone,
And the dead-living unto councell call:
By you th' unborne shall have communion
Of what we feele, and what doth us befall." --Samuel Daniel
Pictured above is the grave of John Keats, one of my favorite English poets who died when very young. Although I did get to see the Keats House while in Rome last summer, I sadly did not get to visit his grave. The vibrant red flowers speak to what Samuel Daniel was talking about in his Renaissance-era poem: reading is an act of communion with people we have never met and, often, with the dead. We feel as if we know our favorite authors and cherish them and their words. Writers and readers alike are in a sense able to overcome the barriers of time and even death.
"I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else." --Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane
When one's day-to-day surroundings are oppressive (or perhaps simply mundane), books can provide us with a happy second home or a bit of escapism.
"A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge." --George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
Reading keeps you sharp!
"Books continue each other, in spite of our habit of judging them separately." -- Virginia Woolf
When one reads and likes one book, that can open up hundreds of other avenues, like newly-discovered aisles in the library. We might decide we absolutely have to read everything else by a certain author, discover a new genre, or want to read a book that an author or character references to better understand what they are talking about. All writers are obviously strongly influenced by earlier writers, and it helps to understand where their ideas, style, and inspirations originated.
"We live for books. A sweet mission in this world dominated by disorder and decadence." --Umberto Eco (again!), The Name of the Rose
Apparently, this is a photograph of Umberto Eco's personal library. As a graduate student in the humanities, I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to call reading and writing my vocation, like the monks in The Name of the Rose.
"Books are not about passing time. They're about other lives. Other worlds. Far from wanting time to pass, one just wishes one had more of it. If one wanted to pass time, one could go to New Zealand." --Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader
I have not read The Uncommon Reader yet, but saw this great quote on Goodreads. No reader ever has enough time to read all the books in their tbr pile, because it only ever grows taller!
"If you have enough book space, I don't want to talk to you." --Sir Terry Pratchett
I love the aesthetic side of reading as well, and don't know what I would do without my overflowing bookshelves and my beautiful Penguin Classic editions!
All of these quotes are from my commonplace book, to which I'm always adding new quotes about the joys of bookishness, among other things. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post, and would love to know why you love reading! Leave the link to your top ten list when you comment and I will be sure to return the visit!