"It skims in through the eye, and by means of the utterly delicate retina hurls shadows like insect legs inward for translation. Then an immense space opens up in silence and an endlessly fecund sub-universe, the writer descends, and asks the read to descend with him, not merely to gain instructions but also to experience delight, the delight of mind freed from matter and exultant in the strength it has stolen from Matter."

John Updike


"whenever you read a book and come across any wonderful phrases which you feel stir or delight your soul, don’t merely trust the power of your own intelligence, but force yourself to learn them by heart and make them familiar by meditating on them, so that whenever an urgent case of affliction arises, you’ll have the remedy ready as it were written in your mind. When you come to any passages that seem to be useful, make a firm mark against them, which may serve as lines in your memory, less otherwise they might fly away."

St. Augustine


"Reading teaches receptivity, Keat’s negative capability. It teaches us to receive, in stillness and attentiveness, a voice possessed temporarily on load. The speaker lends herself and we do the same, a mutual and ephemeral exchange, like love. Yet unlike love, reading is a pure activity. It will gain us nothing but enchantment of the heart. And as we grow accustomed to receiving books in stillness and attentiveness, so we can grow to receive the world, also possessed temporarily, also enchanting the heart."

Lynne Sharon Schwartz

Ruined by reading


"Let not the authority of the writer offend thee whether he be of great or small learning; but let the love of pure truth draw thee to read."

-Thomas a Kempis


"Reading is sometimes an ingenious device for avoiding thought."

-Arthur Helps


"...Reading is the opposite of dissipation; it is a mental and moral practice of concentration which leads us to unknown worlds. Worlds that little by little reveal themselves to be an older, truer homeland: we came from there. To read is to discover unsuspected paths that lead to our own selves. It is a recognition. In the era of advertising and instantaneous communication, how many people are able to read in this way? Very few. But the continuity of our civilization lies in them, not in the data of statistical surveys."

Octavio Paz

The Other Voice



It takes about 50 contact hours to transmit basic literacy and math skills well enough that kids can be self-teachers


"No one is supposed to tell others what is good. I tell you what is good. You can’t live, you can’t mesh with this world, unless you read ….We are not only a body and a bowel. People who bring children into the world and are not prepared to feed their brains are, in my philosophy ignoble….The idiots who run TV, and look at the ratings, think people are pleased at the low, hypnotic and opiate level…You’re in for trouble….You’re vulnerable. For God’s sake, take Hamlet’s advice-"readiness is all."

Dr,. Frank Baxter



"Books are to be called for, and supplied, on the assumption that the process of reading is not a half sleep, but, in highest sense, an exercise, a gymnast's struggle; that the reader is to do something for himself, must be on the alert, must himself or herself construct indeed the poem, argument, history, metaphysical essay-the text furnishing the hints, the clue, the start or framework. Not the book needs so much to be the complete thing, but the reader of the book does. That were to make a nation of supple and athletic minds, well-trained, intuitive..."

Walt Whitman

Democratic Vistas


"WE sometimes disputed, and very fond we were of arguments, and very desirous of confuting one another, which is apt to become a very bad habit. I had caught it by reading my father’s books of dispute about religion. Persons of good sense, I have since observed, seldom fall into it, except lawyers, university men, and men of all sorts that have been bred at Edinburgh."

Benjamin Franklin


"How can I judge….how can any man judge, unless his mind has been opened and enlarged by reading?"

John Adams

(diary 1761)


"Reading is the work of the alert mind, is demanding, and under ideal conditions produces finally as sort of ecstasy. This gives the experience of reading a sublimity and power unequaled by any other form of communications."

Elwyn Brooks White


"Like the bodies of dancers or athletes, the minds of readers are genuinely happy and self-possessed only when cavorting around, doing their stretches and leaps and jumps to the tune of words."

Lynne Sharon Schwartz

Ruined by reading


"Find the most comfortable position: seated, stretched out, curled up, or lying flat…..stretch your legs, go ahead and put your feet on a cushion, on two cushions, on the arms of the sofa, on the wings of the chair, on the coffee table, on the desk, on the piano, on the globe. Take your shoes off first….adjust the light so you won’t strain your eyes. Do it now, because once you’re absorbed in reading there will be no budging you…..Try to foresee now everything that might make you interrupt your reading. Cigarettes within reach, if you smoke, and the ashtray. Anything else? Do you have to pee? All right, you know best."


If on a winter’s Night a Traveler


"The great gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination."

-Elizabeth Hardwick


"In a very real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read....It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish."

S.I. Hayakawa


"To completely analyze what we do when we read, would almost be the acme of the psychologist’s achievements, for it would be to describe very many of the most intricate workings of the human mind."

E.B. Huey


"The best remedy for having gone through this kind of education system is to take it upon yourself to read. You don’t need a school for learning. Ask people you respect for recommendations, read at your own pace, and interpret the thoughts. Try to conceive your own understanding of the book’s meaning, rather than the one that you imagine is correct. You’ll learn what someone else has to say, and you’ll learn more about your-self in the process. And always take notes. When you’ve finished, go back over these notes and you can feel the stimulating effect of the thoughts recorded."

Robert C. Fulford D.O.


"There are quite a number of people in the reading room….They are inside the books. They move, sometimes, within the pages like sleepers turning over between two dreams. Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading!

-Rainier Maria Rilke


"Reading and marriage don’t go well together."

Moliere (1622-1673)


"Mans reading shd. Be man intensely alive. The books shd. Be ball of light in one’s hand.."

Ezra Pound

Guide to Kulchur


"For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time."

Louis L’ Amour

Education of a wandering Man


"What is reading but silent conversation."

Walter Savage Landon


"Reading is the exact opposite of conversation in consisting for each one of us in having another's thought communicated to us while remaining on our own, that is while continuing to enjoy the intellectual authority we have in solitude and which conversation dispels instantly, while continuing to be open to inspiration, with our mind yet working hard and fruitfully on itself."



"Reading, reverie, tears, and pleasure."



"How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book."


"Reading" Walden 1854


"Only 17% of American adults read one book a year. 50% of American College graduates do not read one book a year. That 50% of Americans have never read one book through.


"One thing is certain today-the illiterates are definitely not the least intelligent among us."

-Henry Miller


"A book is a mirror; if an ass peers into it, you can’t expect an apostle to look out."



"Reading a good book is not much different from a love affair."

Harold Brodkey


"To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life."

W. Somerset Maugham


"The great mass of humanity should never learn to read or write."

D.H. Lawrence


"Literacy has promoted the subjugation of women by men through out all but the very recent history of the West. Misogyny and patriarchy rise and fall with the fortunes of the alphabetic written word."

Leonard Shelain

The Alphabet vs. The Goddess



"What the defenders of present civilization usually mean when they say that modern man is better educated than his forebears is that he is literate in larger numbers. The literacy can be demonstrated; yet one may question whether there has ever been a more deceptive panacea, and we are compelled , after a hundred years of experience, to echo Nietzsche's bitter observation: "Everyone being allowed o learn to read, ruineth in the long run not only writing but also thinking." It is not what people can read; it is what they do read, and what they can be made, by any imaginable means, to learn from what they read, that determine the issue of this noble experiment. We have given them a technique of acquisition; how much comfort can we take in the way they employ it? In a society where expression is free and popularity is rewarded they read mostly that which debauches them and they are continuously exposed to manipulation by controllers of the printing machine-as I shall seek to make clear in a later passage. It may be doubted whether one person in three draws what may be correctly termed knowledge from his freely chosen reading matter. The staggering number of facts to which he today has access serves only to draw him away from consideration of first principles, so that his orientation becomes peripheral. And looming above all as a reminder of this fatuity is the tragedy of modern Germany, the one totally literate nation."

Richard M. Weaver

Ideas have Consequences


I am a part of all I have read."

John Kieran


"Much as I loved reading I was wary of it, for I soon saw that much that passed for thinking was simply a good memory, and many an educated man was merely repeating what he had learned, not what he had thought out for himself."

Louis L’Amour

A trail of Memories


"Of all the sacred cows allowed to roam unimpeded in our culture, few are as revered as literacy."

Leonard Shelain


"Reading is an intimate act, perhaps more intimate than any other human act."

Harold Brodkey


"From Erasmus in the sixteenth Century to Elizabeth Einstein in the twentieth, almost every scholar who has grappled with the question of what reading does to one’s habits of mind has concluded that he process encourages rationality; that the sequential, prepositional character of the written words fosters what Walter Ong calls the "analytic management of knowledge." To engage the written word means to follow a line of thought, which requires considerable powers of classifying, inference-making and reasoning. It means to uncover lies, confusions, and overgeneralizations, to detect abuses of logic and common sense. It also means to weigh ideas, to compare and contrast assertions, to connect one generalization to another….."

Neil Postman

Amusing Ourselves To Death


"READ! For the Lord is most beneficent

Who hath taught the use of the pen;

Hath taught man that which he knew not."

Al Koran


"Each of us promenades his thought, like a monkey on a leash. When you read, you always have two such monkeys; your own and one belonging to someone else, or, even worse, a monkey and a hyena. Now, consider what you will feed them. For a hyena does not read the same things as a monkey."

(17th century quote from a Kazar source)


"Reading has a history. It was not always and everywhere the same. We may think of it as a straightforward process of lifting information from a page; but if we considered it further, we would agree that information must be sifted, sorted, and interpreted. Interpretive schemes belong to cultural configurations, which have varied enormously over time. Our ancestors lived in different mental worlds, they must have read differently, and the history of reading could be as complex as the history of Thinking."

Robert Darnton

The Kiss of Lamourette



"From the Middle Ages until some time after read "intensively." They had only a few books-the Bible, an almanac, a devotional work or two-and they read them over and over again, usually aloud and in groups, so that a narrow range of traditional literature became deeply impressed on their consciousness. By 1800 men were reading "extensively." They read all kinds of material, especially periodicals and newspapers, and read it only once, and then raced on to the next item."

Rolf Engelsing



   "All good reading involves diversion: 'If the reader is not at risk,' Harold Brodkey says, 'he is not reading.' Is the threat of this risk what lies behind the profoundly unsettling fear of being recommended a good book? We listen to the book's praise and block it out; the book is too much for us, we are not ready for it. We realize its risk and know that to read it will be dangerous, that to give ourselves to the book will be sacrificial. We would sooner not read, and stay as we are. Hence the great unreads of world literature, giant books that have moved and terrified nations and with which we would prefer to be only broadly conversant rather than intimately engaged. 'No one likes a good book if they have actually read it, ' Brodkey rightly points out. This would be to underestimate the disturbing effect of being taken over by serious reading, where the reader finds himself not simply satisfied by the book but 'fanatically attached, restlessly attached, criminally attached, violently and criminally opposed, sickened, unable to bear it. When the diverted readers I explore said that certain writing had changed their lives, they meant it. For these couples, reading and writing were diverting in the most disorientating sense of the word, turning each seduction into powerful acts of possession, consumption, or containment."

Frances Wilson

Literary Seductions: Compulsive Writers and Diverted Readers



"Universal literacy was supposed to educate the common man to control his environment. Once he could read and write, he would have a mind fit to rule. So ran the democratic doctrine. But instead of a mind, universal literacy has given him rubber stamps, rubber stamps linked with advertising slogans, with editorials, with…..the trivialities of the tabloids and the platitudes of history."

Edward Bernays


"Reading is equivalent to thinking with someone else’s head instead of with one’s own."

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)


"Perhaps there are none more lazy, or more truly ignorant, than your everlasting readers."

William Cobbett (1762-1835)


"People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading."

Logan Pearsall Smith



"Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, but to weigh and consider."

Francis Bacon


"Books are as much a part of life as trees, stars or dung..."

Henry Miller


"When I picture a perfect reader, I always picture a monster of courage and curiosity, also something supple, cunning, cautious, a born adventurer and discoverer."



"In reality, every reader is, while he is reading, the reader of his own self. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument which he offers to the reader to enable him to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have experienced in himself. And the recognition by the reader in his own self of what the book says is the proof of its veracity."

Marcel Proust


"The power of a text is different when it is read from when it is copied out….Only the copied text thus commands the soul of him who is occupied with it, whereas the mere reader never discovers the new aspects of his inner self that are opened by the text, that road cut through the interior jungle forever closing behind it: because the reader follow the movement of his mind in the free flight of day-dreaming, whereas the copier submits it to command."

Walter Benjamin (1892-1940)

One Way Street and Other Writings



" There are times when I think that the reading I have done in the past has no effect except to cloud my mind and make me indecisive."

Robertson Davies


"Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking."

Albert Einstein


"Teachers used to be able to transport children o fabulous lands by recounting a fairy tale or a myth. The room filled with mystery and suspense through the magic of one’s simple instrument: the teacher’s voice. Most of the time her was not even a book in plain view; the teacher knew the story by heart, or enough of the details to keep the yarn spinning. The children chattered. They acted out the stories, they took turns retelling them. They interrupted, asked questions, begged for more. Sometimes, they even learned a poem or two by heart. When the bell rang, they hurried home to act out their own fantasies. When they got bored, they had no TV to switch on. They were compelled to make up their own games.

The greatest gift we can give, not only to each young generation, but to teachers, is to reinvigorate the classroom by filling it once against with human voices. To do that, the present stranglehold of reading instruction has got to be broken. We need to take a lesson from my student Maxwell. Just as we miss the real problem by referring to young people as illiterates, we look past the solution by focusing sharply on that narrowly defined term literacy, as if the key to reading and writing were found solely in letters-as if literacy were to be unlocked by opening books."

Barry Sanders 

A is for Ox



"Almost without exception every great library, from the days of classical Athens to the Age of Reason, has been built on holy ground. The reason is plain. Of all the devices of magic by which a king maintains his sway over his subjects, the magic of the written word is the most potent."

-Raymond Irwin

The Origins of the English Library


"Evenings I return home and enter my study; and at its entrance I take off my everyday clothes; full of mud and dust, and don royal and courtly garments; decorously attired, I enter into the ancient sessions of ancient men. Received amicably by them, I partake of such food as is mine only and for which I was born. There, without shame, I speak with them and ask them about the reason for their actions; and they in their humanity respond to me."

Niccolo Machiavelli



"If you wish to acquire a useful vocabulary, resolving to "learn a new word every day' is not going to suffice; you will simply be burdened with a lot of unnecessary words. Besides, , I doubt if many of us have the tenacity to stick with such a resolution for 365 days a year. Let me suggest how you can combine pleasure with learning and acquire several words a day.

   Keep alongside your easy chair a good dictionary, a pad and pencil, and a current magazine that contains factual articles on a variety of subjects. Read one article a day, pencil in hand, and check every word whose meaning you are not absolutely sure of-even though you may be able to guess its meaning from the context. Then, when you have finished the article, look up the definitions of the words you have checked. (Don't stop during your reading to do this.) If, upon examining the definitions of the word in your dictionary, you think that the word will not be useful to you in your reading, writing and speaking, forget it. If you believe that the word may be useful to you in expressing your thoughts about your profession,  your emotions, actions and opinions, write it down. Now, go back to the article you have read and notice how the word is used. Do not write down the definition of the word-just the word itself. Then, tomorrow, before you start to read another article, review the words you jotted down today. If you have forgotten their meanings, look them up again. But let me warn you, do not write down their definitions; the emphasis should be on your memorizing the word and its meanings-not on copying a word from the dictionary onto a piece of paper. Review your list of words each day; each recall of the meanings of those words will strengthen your grasp of them."

Hugh P. Fellows

The Art and Skill of Talking With People

George Dawson,102 years old, of Dallas ,Texas…is learning to read and writing a book called: "Life is So Good"


"Reading is supposed to help thinking; a man who reads simply borrows another man's thoughts, and this means a craving for thinking. A scarcity of books is understood to amount to intellectual fasting. Reading, Bacon says, makes a full man; and Dangeau dining with Louis XIV, once answered a question of the King with the sentence: "Reading does to my mind what your Majesty's partridges to to my cheeks."

   But there is reading and reading. The word, like "intelligent," like "wit," has been in service a long time and its fringe has gradually become different from what it used to be. Reading, in its earliest stage, cannot have been remote from a magical or a hieratic process and was part of a rite. Our way of reading by just running our eye quickly along a page of type would have surprised and shocked the Ancients. Few people, in antiquity, knew how to read, and few possessed the bricks, stones or rolls necessary for reading. So, like Herodotus at the Olympic games, they were expected to impart to their les fortunate brethren something of the treasure in their hands. Reading out loud seems to have been the rule. It must long have been the custom even in private reading, and the rustic who moves his lips as he reads is keeping up a tradition. Candace's eunuch, who was reading Isaiah on the Gaza road, would not have been overheard by Philip had he not read his book aloud. A biographer of Saint Ambrose also tells us that this learned archbishop was sorely tried in old age by having to renounce reading, "because his throat was affected." So people would only take up a book for a purpose and with a gravity now reserved for reading the Bible or documents of a semi-sacred character. The whole soul was in requisition and its whole power, undiminished by distraction or by phantasms, was applied to the high task. Who can doubt that reading, under such conditions must be effective? Legouve, a mere man of the world, once beat Cousin, a philosopher and a scholar, in the discussion of a doubtful passage of La Fontaine. Cousin asked the reason, and the other man said: "I always read La Fontaine out loud whereas you read the fables as most people do; my voice tells me when there is a danger of misinterpreting a line."

So the quality of reading was excellent.

Ernest Dimnet

The Art of Thinking

Book: "A History of Reading" by Alberto Manguel

Book: "The Browser's Ecstasy: A Meditation on Reading" by Geoffrey O'Brien

Book: "How to Read and Why" by Harold Bloom

Book: "Literary Seductions: Compulsive Writers and Diverted Readers" by Frances Wilson

Book: "Patience & Fortitude" by Nicholas A. Basbanes

Book: "The Literary Mind" by Mark Turner



                                Queen Silver's Magazine


"Man is the evolutionary product of all his ancestors, and the thoughts, the life histories of all the men and animals which have gone before him go to make up his own thoughts and to form his own mind and create his own life history. 

   Before printing was invented, and before books were made cheaply, most of the thoughts and much of the experience of our human ancestors died when they died. Now, however, anyone who has an idea puts it down in printed form. The knowledge of the past is accessible to every child who can read. The great men of the world can not waste their time talking to individual children, or to grown people. Through their books they are willing to talk to the humblest and most ignorant....

   I can not afford to buy a telescope, but I can buy, or get from a public library, books on astronomy which have the finest maps and photographic plates. I can learn, from these books, in a few weeks, facts which astronomers have spent hundreds of years in learning.

   I can not afford to travel all over the earth, and see strange peoples in stranger lands. But every traveler who has the ability to observe, and to write down his impressions, does so. At the Los Angeles Public Library, fifteen miles from my home, I can get a book about any country which has ever been on  a map. It would have cost me many thousands of dollars to have personally visited all the countries I have read about. Besides, in order to learn, from personal observation, all what these writers have told me, I would have to live to be many hundreds of years old.

   If you live in a city, and want to get dinner for yourself, you will not raise your own wheat, grind you own flour, or kill your own meat. You will take the products of the labor of many men, in many countries, and from them you will select your dinner.

   It is the same with the knowledge supplied by books. Very few people can be original investigators, for they have not the ability, time, opportunity, or money necessary. Anyone who desires can utilize the knowledge discovered by the original thinkers of the world and can make it his own. Anyone who possesses originality of thought can take the knowledge thus acquired from others, add it to the products of his own brain, and, if he chooses, hand it onto others.

   Each new invention is the result of some earlier invention made by a previous inventor.

    Each new discovery is made possible by some previous discovery.

   Each new thought is the product of all our past thinking.

   Where, except in books, is the knowledge of other men, races and societies made so easily available."

Queen Silver from Queen Silver's Magazine (13 year old self-taught genius)


   "Bilioholics must read wherever and whenever possible, and even when it doesn't seem possible. Why else do we drag a book along with us wherever we go? There is absolutely no time or place unsuitable for cracking a volume and indulging our passion. In trains, planes, buses, cars, and all other transport; at meals, in bed, on the john, at work, in dentists' offices, in supermarket checkout lines-wherever-we hold true to our biblioholic calling: we read. If our car breaks down on the freeway, we merely reach across the seat and pull out a volume. When our barber finally tires of occupational small talk, we flip open the magazine on our laps. After we get comfy on the chair life, we reach into our parka and pull out a book. 

   It matters not where or when. We must read. John Wesley read history, philosophy, and poetry while riding his horse, sometimes one hundred miles a day. Lawrence of Arabia read Aristophanes in the original while on camelback traveling through Arabia. William Archer. a London operagoer, at one particular performance slept through almost the entire performance, waking up in the intervals to draw from his pocket and peruse a volume of Gibbon's 'Decline and Fall"

Tom Raabe



Book: "Why Read? by Mark Edmundson

Book: "So Many Books, So Little Time: A year of Passionate Reading" by Sara Nelson

Book: "Biblioholism: The Literary Addiction" by Tom Raabe

Book: A History of Reading" by Alberto Manguel

Book: "How Reading Changed My Life" by Anna Quindlen

Book: "Ruined by Reading: A Life in Books" by Sharon Lynne Schwartz

© 2001



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