Updated May 22, 2023

Dievenbach, Hendricus Anthonius (1872-1946)

“A man ought to read just as inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good.” – Samuel Johnson (quoted in James Boswell’s Life of Johnson, 1791)

“All good and true book-lovers practice the pleasing and improving avocation of reading in bed.” – Eugene Field (Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac, 1896)

“And indeed, what is better than to sit by one’s fireside in the evening with a book, while the wind beats against the window and the lamp is burning?” – Gustave Flaubert (Madame Bovary)

“Apparently, there is a skill that people pay to acquire called speed reading. That makes as much sense as a course in speed love-making.” – Guy Browning (2003)

“Books at their best and in their most favorable moments of reception revitalize. The end of reading is not more books but more life.” – Holbrook Jackson (The Reading of Books)

“Books have their idiosyncrasies as well as people, and will not show me their full beauties unless the place and the time in which they are read suits them….I cannot read Thoreau in a drawing room….” – Elizabeth Arnim (The Solitary Summer)

“Books support us in our solitude and keep us from being a burden to ourselves.” – Jeremy Collier

“Charles Lamb once said, in his quaint and delightful way, that he wished to ask a ‘grace before reading’ more than a ‘grace before dinner.’ ” – M.F. Sweetsr, “What People Read,” in Hints for Home Reading edited by Lyman Abbott, 1883

“Early on weekday mornings, I’d read in my bed. I’d feel a mysterious comfort then, reading in the dawn quiet – the blue-gray silence interrupted by the occasional churning of the refrigerator motor a few rooms away or the more distant sounds of a city bus beginning its run.” – Richard Rodriguez

“Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant, and interesting.” – Aldous Huxley (Jesting Pilate; quoted by Helen E. Harris in Living with Books: The Art of Books Selection, 2nd ed., 1950)

“Every reader exists to ensure for a certain book a modest immortality. Reading is, in this sense, a ritual of rebirth.” – Alberto Manguel (The Library at Night)

“Every single pleasure I can imagine or have experienced is more delightful, more of a pleasure, if you take it in small sips, if you take your time. Reading is not an exception.” – Amos Oz

“Fiction is a kind of compassion-generating machine that saves us from sloth. Is life kind or cruel? Yes, Literature answers. Are people good or bad? You bet, says Literature. But unlike other systems of knowing, Literature declines to eradicate one truth in favor of another; rather, it teaches us to abide with the fact that, in their own way, all things are true, and helps us, in the face of this terrifying knowledge, continually push ourselves in the direction of Open the Hell Up.”— George Saunders

“From your parents you learn love and laughter and how to put one foot before the other. But when books are opened you discover that you have wings.” – Helen Hayes

“Good reading does for the mind what good glasses do for the eyes: it lets you in on the details of living….Good reading is like being converted, or falling in love, or getting married: the whole world has a new smell!” – J. Bernard Haviland (“Reading More Effectively,” quoted in The Wonderful World of Books edited by Alfred Stefferud, 1953)

“I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a good book. ” – Groucho Marx (cited in A Little Learning is a Dangerous Thing edited by James Charlton, 1994)

“I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves.” – E. M. Forster

“I would sooner read a timetable or a catalogue than nothing at all.” – W. Somerset Maugham (cited in The 21st Century Dictionary of Quotations edited by the Princeton Language Institute, 1993)

“It is a tie between men to have read the same book.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson (Journals, 1864)

“I’ve never known any troubles that an hour’s reading didn’t assuage.” – Montesquieu (1689-1755)

“Let us read and let us dance – two amusements that will never do any harm to the world.” – Voltaire (1694-1778)

“Life is a perpetual plot to keep us from reading.” – Daniel Pennac (Better Than Life)

“It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read we can live as many more lives and as many kinds as we wish.” – Senator S.I. Hayakawa

“I’ve never had the time to read. But no one has ever kept me from finishing a novel I loved.” – Daniel Pennac (Better Than Life)

“I’ve never known any trouble that an hour’s reading didn’t assuage.” – Charles de Secondat, Baron de la Brede et de Montesquieu (Pensees Diverses)

“Most of us at one time or another have had the experience of being totally absorbed in a work of fiction. Phones go unanswered, meals uneaten, the lawn unmowed, the chickens unfed, while we linger in the spell of a master storyteller.” – Robert D. Jacobs (“Recreation: Fiction’s First Reward” in The Wonderful World of Books edited by Alfred Stefferud, 1953)

“My reading list grows exponentially. Every time I read a book, it’ll mention three other books I feel I have to read. It’s like a particularly relentless series of pop-up ads.” — A.J. Jacobs (The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible As Literally As Possible)

“No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting.” – Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

“One of the amusements of idleness is reading without the fatigue of close attention; and the world therefore swarms with writers whose wish is not to be studied, but to be read.” – Samuel Johnson (The Idler, #30, 1758)

“People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.” – Logan Pearsall Smith (Afterthoughts, 1931)

“People who say they don’t have time to read simply don’t want to.” – Julie Rugg and Lynda Murphy (A Book Lover’s Treasury, 2006)

“Reading is a lot like sex. It is a private and often secret activity. It is often undertaken in bed, and people are not inclined to underestimate either the extent or the effectiveness of their activity.” – Daniel Boorstein (Life Magazine, January 1984)

“Reading is a means of thinking with another person’s mind; it forces you to stretch your own.” – Florida Scott-Maxwell (Publishers Weekly, March 30, 1984)

“Reading is not a duty, and has consequently no business to be made disagreeable.” – Augustine Birrell (The Office of Literature, 1887)

“Reading is one of the true pleasures of life. In our age of mass culture, when so much that we encounter is abridged, adapted, adulterated, shredded, and boiled down, it is mind-easing and mind-inspiring to sit down privately with a congenial book….” — Thomas S. Monson

“…Reading…is supposed to be, and often is, a pleasure: there is no possible reason why it should be elevated to a duty.” – Harold Nicolson (“How to Read Books,” 1937)

“Reading is the work of an alert mind, is demanding, and under ideal conditions produces finally a kind of ecstasy. This gives the experience of reading a sublimity and power unequalled by any other form of communication.” – E.B. White (cited in The Harper Book of Quotations)

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” – Sir Richard Steele [also attributed to Joseph Addison]

“Reading, like prayer, remains one of our few private acts.” – William Jovanovich (cited in The Harper Book of Quotations)

“Reading means approaching something that is just coming into being. ” – Italo Calvino (If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller, 1981)

“Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you.” – Harold Bloom

“‘Tell me what you read and I’ll tell you who you are’ is true enough, but I’d know you better if you told me what you reread.” – Francois Mauriac

“The beauty of words, the sound and fall of sentences, a writer’s distinctive voice rising from the page – these, in the end, provide the greatest and most lasting pleasures of the reading life.” – Michael Dirda (Book by Book: Notes on the Reading Life, 2006)

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.” – Alan Bennett (The History Boys, 2004)

“The pleasantest of all diversions is to sit alone under the lamp, a book spread out before you, and to make friends with people of a distant past you have never known.” – Kenko (Essays in Idleness)

“The pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books.” — Katherine Mansfield

“The time to read is any time: no apparatus, no appointment of time and place, is necessary. It is the only art which can be practised at any hour of the day or night; whenever the time and inclination comes, that is your time for reading; in joy or sorrow, health or illness.” – Holbrook Jackson (The Delights of Reading: Quotes, Notes and Anecdotes compiled by Otto L. Bettmann, 1987)

“The worst way to read, he said, is with the thought that you do not have enough time. The only way to read is in the knowledge that there is an infinite amount of time stretching ahead, and that if one wishes to taste only a few sentences per day one is free to do so.” – Gabriel Josipovivi (Moo Pak)

“The beauty of opening a new pursuit, or a new course of reading, imparts the vivacity and novelty of youth even to old age.” – Benjamin Disraeli (cited in The Harper Book of Quotations)

“The habit of reading is the only enjoyment I know in which there is no alloy. It lasts when all other pleasures fade. It will be there to support you when all other resources are gone. It will be present to you when the energies of your body have fallen away from you. It will make your hours pleasant to you as long as you live.” – Anthony Trollope

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” – Mark Twain

“The very language with which we talk about reading metaphorically conveys its pleasures: ‘I devoured it,’ ‘I lapped it up,’ ‘I took it all in,’ ‘I couldn’t put it down,’ ‘I savored it page by page.’…Reading may be an alternative to lived experience, but it also makes it own physical as well as imaginative demands and offers its own sensuous gratifications….Like lovers, books entice, attract, sometimes disappoint, sometimes even repel.” – Willard Spiegelman (“Reading,” from Seven Pleasures: Essays on Ordinary Happiness, 2009)

“There are two forms of recreation which are of almost universal appeal among cultivated people: first, the observation of nature; secondly, the reading of books.” – Theodore Wesley Koch (“Reading: A Vice or a Virtue,” a speech in Dayton, Ohio on June 10, 1928)

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” – Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996)

“There is a great deal of difference between the eager man who wants to read a book and the tired man who wants a book to read.” – G.K. Chesterton

“There is a temperate zone in the mind, between luxurious indolence and exacting work; and it is to this region, just between laziness and labor, that summer reading belongs.” – Henry Ward Beecher

“There is no hour of the twenty-four which may not be profitably spent in reading. In the lonely watches of a sleepless night; in the precious hours of early morning; in the busy forenoon, the leisurely afternoon, or in the long winter evening; – whenever the time and inclination comes, that is your time for reading….I know of a woman who read Paradise Lost…aloud to her husband in a single winter, while he was shaving, that being the only available time.” – Charles F. Richardson (The Choice of Books, 1885)

“There is no pleasure so cheap, so innocent, and so remunerative as the real, hearty pleasure and taste for reading.” – Robert Lowe (1869)

“There is no reason why the same man should like the same books at eighteen and at forty-eight.” – Ezra Pound (ABC of Reading, 1934)

“Time spent reading is always time stolen. Like time spent writing, or loving, for that matter. Stolen from what? From life’s obligations. Which is probably why the subway – the very symbol of life’s many obligations – is the world’s largest reading room.” – Daniel Pennac (Better Than Life)

“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” – W. Somerset Maugham

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” – Harper Lee

“…We can read…to refresh and exercise our own creative powers. Is there not an open window on the right side of the bookcase?” – Virginia Woolf (The Common Reader, 1932)

“We live not with books themselves but with our memories of books: the bits and pieces we recall, the pages we dog-ear, the lines we highlight.” – Seth Lerer (quoted by Willard Spiegelman in “Reading,” from Seven Pleasures: Essays on Ordinary Happiness, 2009)

“What we read with inclination makes a much stronger impression. If we read without inclination, half the mind is employed in fixing the attention; so there is but one half to be employed on what we read.” – Samuel Johnson

“When I think of all the books still left for me to read, I am certain of further happiness.” – Jule Renard

“Whether it is the well-thumbed reference book in the study, workshop, or kitchen, whether it is the biography or the novel borrowed from the library, or whether it is the personal copy always there on one’s own bookshelves, the book is a private medium of communication in a world where privacy is becoming more difficult to attain and maintain.” – Peter H. Mann (Books: Buyers and Borrowers, 1971)

“You may perhaps be brought to acknowledge that it is very well worthwhile to be tormented for two or three years of one’s life, for the sake of being able to read all the rest of it.” – Jane Austen (Northanger Abbey, 1818)

“You must read as you live: promiscuously. You must go…to the local libraries and scan the shelves, pulling things out randomly, thumbing the pages, reading the openings, and allowing your eyes to wander where they will. Take shopping bags, backpacks, with you. Fill them up. Bring them home. Some things will command your attention for more than a minute; those that don’t, take back. Reading must be violently fickle, experimental, capricious, and even dangerous.” – Willard Spiegelman (“Reading,” from Seven Pleasures: Essays on Ordinary Happiness, 2009)

“A book, like a person, has its fortunes with one; is lucky or unlucky in the precise moment of its falling in our way, and often by some happy accident counts with us for something more than its independent value.” – Walter Pater (Marius the Epicurean, 1885)

“…there are books meant for daytime reading and books that can be read only at night.” – Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being)

“We read, most of the time, not because we wish to instruct ourselves, not because we long to have our feelings touched and our imagination fired, but because reading is one of our bad habits, because we suffer when we have time to spare and no printed matter with which to plug the void.” – Aldous Huxley (“Writers and Readers,” 1936)

“Let us admit that reading…is just a drug that we cannot do without – who…does not know the restlessness that attacks him when he has been severed from reading too long, the apprehension and irritability, and the sigh of relief which the sight of a printed page extracts from him? – And so let us be no more vainglorious than the poor slaves of the hypodermic needle or the pint-pot.” – Somerset Maugham (“The Book Bag,” 1951)

“Whenever I have come out without a book in my pocket I have been put to the expense of buying one before I have got through the day. On the whole, perhaps the best thing to do is to give up the idea of giving up reading.” – Daniel George (“The Reading Habit,” 1954)

“I should never call myself a book lover, any more than a people lover: it all depends on what’s inside them.” – Philip Larkin (“Books,” 1972)

“The ideal reader is both generous and greedy. The ideal reader reads all literature as if it were anonymous. Reading a book from centuries ago, the ideal reader feels immortal. The ideal reader must be willing, not only to suspend disbelief, but to embrace a new faith. The ideal reader proselytizes. The ideal reader is guiltlessly whimsical. The ideal reader is capable of falling in love with one of the book’s characters. The ideal reader is not concerned with genres.” – Alberto Manguel, A Reader on Reading

“Reading has become an act of meditation, with all of meditation’s attendant difficulty and grace. I sit down. I try to make a place for silence. It’s harder than it used to be, but still, I read.” – David L. Ulin (“The Lost Art of Reading,” Los Angeles Times, August 9, 2009)

“Reading is not just acquainting ourselves with a text or acquiring knowledge; it is also, from its first moments, an inevitable process of forgetting. Even as I read, I start to forget what I have read, and this process is unavoidable. It extends to the point where it’s as though I haven’t read the book at all, so that in effect I find myself rejoining the ranks of the non-readers, where I should no doubt have remained in the first place. At this point, saying we have read a book becomes essentially a form of metonymy. When it comes to books, we never read more than a portion of greater or lesser length, and that portion is, in the longer or shorter term, condemned to disappear. When we talk about books, then, to ourselves and to others, it would be more accurate to say that we are talking about our approximate recollections of books, arranged as a function of our current circumstances.” – Pierre Bayard (How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read, 2007, page 47)

“Reading is that fruitful miracle of communication in the midst of solitude.” – Marcel Proust

“Reading was my escape and my comfort, my consolation, my stimulant of choice: reading for the pure pleasure of it, for the beautiful stillness that surrounds you when you hear an author’s words reverberating in your head.” – Paul Auster (The Brooklyn Follies)

“The written word, obviously, is very inward, and when we’re reading, we’re thinking. It’s a sort of spiritual, meditative activity. When we’re looking at visual objects, I think our eyes are obviously directed outward, so there’s not as much reflective time. And it’s the reflectiveness about reading that appeals to me.” – Joyce Carol Oates

“I read so that I can live more than one life in more than one place.” – Ann Tyler

“Literature duplicates the experience of living in a way that nothing else can, drawing you so fully into another life that you temporarily forget you have one of your own. That is why you read it, and might even sit up in bed ’till early dawn, throwing your whole tomorrow out of whack, simply to find out what happens to some people who, you know perfectly well, are made up.” – Barbara Kingsolver

“A good reader, a major reader, an active and creative reader is a rereader.” Vladimir Nabokov

“In the case of books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” – Mortimer J. Adler

“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 thence-forward 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

“We never stop reading, although every book comes to an end, just as we never stop living, although death is certain.” – Roberto Bolaño

“Book-love, I say again, lasts throughout life, it never flags or fails, but, like Beauty itself, is a joy forever.” – Holbrook Jackson

“In its silence, a book is a challenge: it can’t lull you with surging music or deafen you with screeching laugh tracks or fire gunshots in your living room; you have to listen to it in your head. A book won’t move your eyes for you the way images on a screen do. It won’t do the work for you. To read a story well is to follow it, to act it, to become it – everything short of writing it, in fact. Reading is not ‘interactive’ with a set of rules or options, as games are; reading is actual collaboration with the writer’s mind. No wonder not everybody is up to it.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

“I know there are people who don’t read fiction at all. And I find it hard to understand how they can bear to be in the same head all the time.” – Diane Setterfield

“And maybe the measure of our reading should therefore be, not the number of books we’ve read, but the state in which they leave us. What does it matter how cultivated and up-to-date we are, or how many thousands of books we’ve read? What matters is how we feel, how we see, what we do after reading; whether the street and the clouds and the existence of others mean anything to us; whether reading makes us physically more alive.” – Gabriel Zaid

“Never read a book through merely because you have begun it.” – John Witherspoon

“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” – Mason Cooley

“Children are made readers in the laps of their parents.” – Emilie Buchwald

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading!”  – Rainer Maria Rilke

“Along with the love of style, I read in the hope of laughter, exaltation, insight, enhanced consciousness, and dare I say it, wisdom; I read, finally, hoping to get a little smarter about the world.” – Joseph Epstein, “The Pleasures of Reading,” in Narcissus Leaves the Pool, 1999

“Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.” – Nora Ephron

“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” – Mason Cooley

“What makes lovemaking and reading resemble each other most is that within both of them times and spaces open, different from measurable time and space.” — Italo Calvino

“I’ve never read a book solely because it was old – or new. I’ve read it because it looked interesting, regardless of publication date, or because someone whose judgment I trust recommended it. Let’s face it: Today is a small place and the past is enormous. They wrote a lot more good books then than now.” – Patrick Kurp, Anecdotal Evidence

“Allowing yourself to stop reading a book – at page 25, 60, or even, less frequently, a few chapters from the end – is a rite of passage in a reader’s life, the literary equivalent of a bar mitzvah or a communion, the moment at which you look at yourself and announce: Today I am an adult. I can make my own decisions.” – Sara Nelson, So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading (2003)

“People seem to think there is something inherently noble and virtuous in the desire to go for a walk. Anyone thus desirous feels that he has a right to impose his will on whomever he sees comfortably settled in an arm-chair, reading.” – Max Beerbohm (From “Going Out for a Walk,” in And Even Now, 1920)

“At the day of judgment we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done.” – Thomas a Kempis

“If you want to make the book god laugh, show him your reading list.” – Sara Nelson (So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading, 2003)

“Reading is a way to live more lives, to experience more worlds, to meet people we care about and want to know more about, to understand others and develop a compassion for what they confront and endure. It is a way to learn how to knit or build a house or solve an equation, a way to be moved to laughter and wonder and to learn how to live…. Everywhere, every day, someone is changed, perhaps even saved, by words and stories.” – Connecticut bookseller Roxanne J. Coady, in the introduction to the book she co-edited with Joy Johannessen, entitled The Book that Changed My Life: 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books that Matter Most to Them (Gotham Books, 2006)

“If you’re not prepared to read to your children an hour a day, you shouldn’t have any.” – Joan Aiken

“The beauty of words, the sound and fall of sentences, a writer’s distinctive voice rising from the page – these, in the end, provide the greatest and most lasting pleasures of the reading life.”  – Michael Dirda (A Reading Life)

“At the day of judgment we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done.” – Thomas a Kempis

“The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.” – Ursula Le Guin

“And indeed, what is better than to sit by one’s fireside in the evening with a book, while the wind beats against the window and the lamp is burning?” – Gustave Flaubert (Madame Bovary)

“Woke up this morning with a terrific urge to lie in bed all day and read.” – Raymond Carver

“There is then creative reading as well as creative writing. When the mind is braced by labor and invention, the page of whatever book we read becomes luminous with manifold allusion. Every sentence is doubly significant, and the sense of our author is as broad as the world.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson (The American Scholar)

“Read in order to Live.” – Gustave Flaubert

“Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.” – Hazel Rochman

“A great novel is a kind of conversion experience. We come away from it changed.” – Katherine Patterson

“There are two motives for reading a book: one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it.” – Bertrand Russell

“Books must be read deliberately and as reservedly as they were written.” – Henry David Thoreau

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” – Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996)

“I seldom read on beaches or in gardens. You can’t read by two lights at once, the light of day and the light of the book. You should read by electric light, the room in shadow, and only the page lit up.” – Marguerite Duras

“It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.”- S.I. Hayakawa

“The dear good people don’t know how long it takes to learn to read. I’ve been at it eighty years, and can’t say yet that I’ve reached the goal.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“The confraternity of serious readers is united by a conviction that literature is an endless series of expeditions, some planned, some unplanned, all elating.” – Joe Queenan (One for the Books, p. 21)

“Have you ever rightly considered what the mere ability to read means? That it is the key which admits us to the whole world of thought and fancy and imagination? To the company of saints and sages, of the wisest and wittiest at their wisest and wittiest moment? That it enables us to see with the keenest eyes, hear with the finest ears, and listen to the sweetest voices of all time?” – James Russell Lowell (“Books and Libraries,” Democracy and Other Addresses, 1887)

“…Reading 15 minutes a day…means you will read half a book a week, 2 books a month, 20 a year, and 1,000 or more in a reading lifetime.” – Louis Shores (“How to Find Time to Read,” in The Wonderful World of Books edited by Alfred Stefferud, 1953, pp. 78-79)

“It should always be borne in mind that the busiest reader must leave unread all but a mere fraction of the good books in the world. …The reading of a book a fortnight, or say twenty-five books a year, is quite as much as the average reader can possibly achieve – a rate at which only 1,250 books could be read in half a century. Since this is so, he must be very thoughtless and very timid who feels any shame in confessing that he is wholly ignorant of a great many books; and on the other hand, none but a very superficial and conceited reader will venture to express surprise at the deficiencies of others, when a little thought would make his own so clearly manifest.” – Charles F. Richardson (The Choice of Books, 1885)

“It is a pleasure to read good books and to talk about them. But there is another pleasure connected with books which is less often enjoyed and more difficult to secure. This is the pleasure of learning how the books we love were made.” – Gilbert Highet (“The Making of Literature,” in The Wonderful World of Books edited by Alfred Stefferud, p. 188; reprinted from Highet’s Talks on Books)

“A good book should leave you…slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it.” – William Styron

“After three days without reading, talk becomes flavorless.” – Chinese proverb

“I’ve never known any trouble that an hour’s reading didn’t assuage.” – Charles de Secondat

“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” – W. Somerset Maugham

“Why are we reading if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed? Why are we reading if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with wisdom, courage, and the possibility of meaningfulness, and will press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so that we may feel again their majesty and power?” – Annie Dillard

“There may be no more pleasing picture in the world than that of a child peering into a book – the past and the future entrancing each other.” – Roger Rosenblatt

“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” – Confucius

“Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.” – Nora Ephron

“Knowing you have something good to read before bed is among the most pleasurable of sensations.” – Vladimir Nabokov

“Sometimes, immersed in his books, there would come to him the awareness of all that he did not know, of all that he had not read; and the serenity for which he labored was shattered as he realized the little time he had in life to read so much, to learn what he had to know.” – John Edward Williams (Stoner)

“Tastes in books and authors, and probably in sandwiches and neckties and everything else, are idiosyncratic and most likely inexplicable, even to ourselves. Certainly childhood associations are involved, and our educations in the broadest sense. Once we get past fashion and peer pressure and the desire to be admired for our exquisite taste, what’s left? Why an affinity for some things and not others? What, in the privacy of our skulls, gives us true pleasure and consolation, and keeps us coming back?” – Patrick Krup (from his blog Anecdotal Evidence, November 4, 2013)

“When shall I be tired of reading? When the moon is tired of waxing and waning, when the sea is tired of ebbing and flowing, when the grass is weary of growing, when the planets are tired of going.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson (Journals – entry for July 31, 1835)

“People who have read with love and respect understand that the larger message behind all books, great and good and even some not so good as they might be, is, finally, cultivate your sensibility so that you may trust your heart.” – Joseph Epstein (“The Pleasures of Reading,” Narcissus Leaves the Pool, 1999; quoted by Patrick Krup at Anecdotal Evidence

“A book is not a code to crack or a test to pass. Literature comes down to you and the text, a minimalist, low-tech pastime requiring no training or additional equipment. You bring to it all you know, all you have read, all you have experienced. You read, enjoy, get lost, get bored, get thrilled, find a path, and change a little.”  – Patrick Krup at Anecdotal Evidence

“The number of routes followed by serious readers is vast but finite. We operate without benefit of GPS. We favor side roads and off-road detours, and are not intimidated by cul-de-sacs. Speed is not a priority. We are tortoises, not hares. Along the way we stop for other readers and compare itineraries, which often prompts further detours. A life spent reading is filled with fellow travelers carrying news of yet more books to read.” = Patrick Krup, “`God or the Dulcimer May Meet You,’” Anecdotal Evidence (entry for May 13, 2016)

“So it comes down, as it must, to one reader reading, one person who understands that he or she, while alone, is still part of a select society, a gallery of like-minded readers who, though they may disagree about this or that book, know that literature matters in a way that life matters.” – Arthur Krystal (This Thing We Call Literature)

“A lifetime of reading can be likened to the motion of tectonic plates, forever shifting, colliding, sinking and erupting.” – Patrick Kurp, “This is a Partial List, Of Course,” Anecdotal Evidence (entry for October 3, 2016)

“…Like any love, [reading] has a physical dimension. There is more to it than simply ingesting print. Love of reading begins with pleasure in the look, feel, and weight of a book. Even the smell of books—seasoned ones—carries an enchantment. Redolent with memory, they do more than conjure the past for us. They bind us to it.” – Maureen Mullarkey, “Because The Incarnate Matters, E-Readers Can Never Replace Real Books,” The Federalist (entry for September 27, 2016; quoted by Patrick Kurp at Anecdotal Evidence (entry for September 29, 2016)

“…What I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto 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, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2008)

“Books we first loved long ago and return to with some regularity become suffused with our various selves. A book is a palimpsest of “old associations.” While reading it, we read ourselves.” – Patrick Kurp, from his blog Anecdotal Evidence (entry for March 6, 2018)

“What is the object of reading unless something definite comes of it? You would be better advised to play billiards. Where is the sense of reading history if you do not obtain from it a clearer insight into actual politics and render yourself less liable to be duped by the rhetoric of party propaganda. Where is the sense of reading philosophy if your own attitude towards the phenomena of the universe does not become more philosophical? Where is the sense of reading morals unless your own are improved? Where is the sense of reading biography unless it is going to affect what people will say about you after your funeral? Where is the sense of reading poetry or fiction unless you see more beauty, more passion, more scope for your sympathy, than you saw before?” – Arnold Bennett, Things That Have Interested Me (1921); quoted by Andrew Rickard at his blog Graveyard Masonry

“. . . New and unexpected interests will crop up in most readers’ lives. Some of these come and go, while others come and stay.” – Douglas Dalrymple at his blog Idlings (entry for July 2, 2018)

“Reading is a form of companionship. Children have imaginary friends; grown-ups have books.” – Sparrow, “My Book Life,” The Sun, May 2019

“We speak of our “work life,’ our ‘married life,’ or our ‘sex life” but never of our ‘book life.’ Yet reading is just as essential as marriage or being a dentist. The next time you see a friend, ask, ‘How’s your book life?'” – Sparrow, “My Book Life,” The Sun, May 2019

“Reading of course can easily be nothing more than a way to kill time; but if it is calculated and intense, it is a steady extension of one’s life. If life is measured by consciousness, one whose mind is full lives longer than one whose mind is empty—just as one who is awake eighteen hours a day lives longer than one who sleeps away every twelve hours. You add to life by adding to the quantity of conscious moments through reading. This is true no matter what you read — history, poetry, novels, essays, letters, diaries, memoirs, criticism.” – Jacques Barzun, A Jacques Barzun Reader (2002); quoted May 26, 2019 by Patrick Kurp at his blog Anecdotal Evidence

“The serious reader expands his circle of acquaintances, but is not unhappy with his friends. He expands his knowledge of place, but is not dissatisfied with home. He expands his awareness of self, but is not confused about his identity, his responsibilities, or his beliefs. He believes that other media overemphasize the modern, undervalue the traditional, and barely acknowledge the timeless… And the serious reader defines knowledge in his own way. [To borrow from John Henry Newman’s The Idea of a University,] knowledge is something the reader prizes for its own sake, as he would an object that is purely beautiful or a person whose standards are not subject to fluctuation by whim. The reader finds a piquancy to knowledge as it settles into the mind that is comparable to the last of a delicate food as it slowly melts onto the palate — a hedonistic view of learning to be sure, lush and impractical, but one he shares with countless other men and women over the centuries who, of impractical bent themselves, were nonetheless capable of great worldly achievement.” – Eric Burns, The Joy of Books: Confessions of a Lifelong Reader; quoted by Alexander Atkins at his blog Bookshelf

“Most of what makes a book ‘good’ is that we are reading it at the right moment.” – Alain de Botton; found at the Bookaholics Facebook page (January 8, 2020)

“Reading is the only pleasure that not only persists, but gets better as we grow older.” – “Faze,” in a comment to a blogpost written by Patrick Kurp at his blog Anecdotal Evidence, October 25, 2019

“I spent my younger years reading to the finish every book I started. My motives were mixed, pride being the prime mover. I didn’t like the idea of a book defeating me. I took it personally. The advantage of this strategy is reading a lot of books that might in some way be good for me if not particularly enjoyable, like eating kale. It also hones one’s ability to distinguish gradations of quality on a scale ranging from the essential to abysmal wastes of time. The disadvantage is losing time that might be spent on better, more interesting books. Now I feel no compunction over permanently closing a volume even after reading only a page or two. It helps that I’m no longer impressed by reputation or take lousy books as personal affronts.” – Patrick Kurp (at his blog Anecdotal Evidence, January 22, 2020)

“The first thing that reading teaches is how to be alone.” – Jonathan Franzen

“Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed? . . . Why are we reading if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with wisdom, courage, and the possibility of meaningfulness, and will press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so we may feel again their majesty and power?” – Annie Dillard (The Writing Life)

“There is no time so good to read a book as when you have just bought it and brought it home.” – Sir Walter Raleigh (Letters of Sir Walter Raleigh, 1916)

“A man can hardly be said to know the 12th Mass or the 9th Symphony by virtue of having once heard them played ten years ago; he can hardly be said to take air and exercise because he took a country walk once last Autumn. And so he can hardly be said to know Scott or Shakespeare, Moliere or Cervantes, when he once read them since the close of his schooldays, or amidst the daily grind of his professional life. The immortal and universal poets of our race are to be read and re-read till their music and their spirit are a part of our nature; they are to be thought over and digested till we live in the world they created for us.” – Frederic Harrison (The Choice of Books and Other Literary Pieces, 1886)

“Life being very short, and the quiet hours of it few, we ought to waste none of them in reading valueless books.” – John Ruskin

“Read all the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” – Thoreau (A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, 1849)

“The only advice, indeed, that one person can give another about reading is to take no advice. . . . After all, what laws can be laid down about books> – Virginia Woolf (The Second Common Reader, 1932)

“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

“If I were to pray for a taste which should stand me in stead under every variety of circumstances, and be a source o0f happiness and cheerfulness to me through life, and a shield against its ills, however things might go amiss, and the world frown upon me, it would be a taste for reading. . . . Give a man this taste, and the means of gratifying it, and you can hardly fail of making a happy man. . . . You place him in contact with the best society in every period of history – with the wisest, the wittiest – with the tenderest, the bravest, and the purest characters who have adorned humanity. You make him a denizen of all nations – a contemporary of all ages. The world has been created for him.” – Sir John Frederick William Herschel (in a speech to the Windsor Public Library, c. 1860)

“Reading is not a duty, and if it is not a pleasure it is a waste of time.” – Holbrook Jackson (The Anatomy of Bibliomania, 1930)

“The failure to read good books both enfeebles the vision and strengthens our most fatal tendency – the belief that here and now is all there is.” – Allan Bloom (The Closing of the American Mind, 1987)

“No two people read the same book.” – Edmund Wilson (The Sunday Times, July 25, 1971).

“Reading is sometimes thought of as a form of escapism, and it’s a common turn of phrase to speak of getting lost in a book. But a book can also be where one finds oneself; and when a reader is grasped and held by a book, reading does not feel like an escape from life so much as it feels like an urgent, crucial dimension of life itself. There are books that seem to comprehend us just as much as we understand them, or even more. There are books that grow with the reader as the reader grows, like a graft to a tree.” – Rebecca Mead (My Life in Middlemarch, 2014)

“Books are now multiplied to such a degree, that it is impossible not only to read them all, but even to know their number and their titles. Happily, one is not obliged to read all that is published. – Voltaire (Philosophical Dictionary, 1764)

“Every reader, as he reads, is actually the reader of himself. The writer’s work is only a kind of optical instrument he provides the reader so he can discern what he might never have seen in himself without this book. The reader’s recognition in himself of what the book says is the proof of the book’s truth.” – ~Marcel Proust, Time Regained

“My motives for reading are thoroughly mixed, but pure pleasure is always high among them. I read for aesthetic pleasure. . . . Along with the love of style, I read n the hope of laughter, exaltation, insight, enhanced consciousness, and . . . wisdom; I read, finally, hoping to get a little smarter about the world.” – Joseph Epstein (“The Pleasures of Reading,” Narcissus Leaves the Pool)

“What wide reading teaches is the richness, the complexity, the mystery of life.” – Joseph Epstein (“The Pleasures of Reading,” Narcissus Leaves the Pool)

“Reading isn’t an obligatory, mechanical act, undertaken to earn a degree or impress the rubes. We read to live, to grow, to become ourselves. We’re not in this life alone.” – Patrick Kurp (at his blog Anecdotal Evidence, July 21, 2020)

“Reading may not be the same as conversation, but reading the right books, the best books, puts us in the company of men and women more intelligent than ourselves. Only by keeping company with those smarter than ourselves, in books or in persons, do we have a chance of becoming a bit smarter.” – Joseph Epstein (“The Bookish Life,” First Things, November 2018; quoted by Patrick Kurp at his blog Anecdotal Evidence, August 26, 2020)

“Reading wasn’t my religion – it was my oxygen.” ― Linda Grant (“I Murdered My Library”)

“Apart from a diploma, there’s nothing of value you can gain by studying literature in school that you can’t get on your own as a reader and lover of good books. . . . Happily, a literary education . . . is still available to all, because literature is meant for amateurs.” – Douglas Dalrymple (at his blog “Idlings,” October 14, 2020)

“What I mean by reading is not skimming, not being able to say as the world saith, ‘Oh, yes, I’ve read that,’ but reading again and again, in all sorts of moods, with an increase of delight every time, till the thing read has become a part of your system and goes forth along with you to meet any new experience you may have.” – C.E. Montague (A Writer’s Notes on His Trade)

“As in the field of life’s combat, knowledge and power are gained by reading, so, in the field of your own intimate life, by this same process of reading are gained fullness of knowledge, variety of interest, multiplicity of experience, and amplitude and depth of emotion. You find it a joy to be alive? You wish to be as intensely as your mind and emotions permit? Then read much and many things.” – John Cotton Dana

“I read in the hope of discovering the truth, or at least some truths. I look for truth in what some might deem strange places: novels and poems, histories and memoirs, biographies and autobiographies, letters and diaries. . . . I seek clues that might explain life’s oddities, that might light up the dark corners of existence a little, that might correct foolish ideas that I have come to hold too dearly, that might, finally, make my own stay here on earth more interesting, if not necessarily more pleasant.” – Joseph Epstein (“Bookless in Gaza,” from The Middle of My Tether: Familiar Essays (1983); quoted by Patrick Kurp at his blog Anecdotal Evidence, January 9, 2021)

“…all I ask of life is the privilege of being able to read.” – William Maxwell (from a letter to Sylvia Townsend Warner, December 30, 1958; quoted by Patrick Kurp at his blog Anecdotal Evidence, May 24, 2021)

“. . . The best thing about being a reader is that you’re an absolute monarch. Your word is law in your own domain and while you may lift an eyebrow at what goes on across the border, you cannot tell other readers that they do not in fact enjoy what they enjoy. That authority is not given to you, nor should it be.” – Thomas Parker (in a comment to a blogpost written by Patrick Kurp at his blog Anecdotal Evidence, July 5, 2021)

′′ If I had to give a one word answer to the question of why I read, that word would be pleasure The kind of pleasure you can get from reading doesn’t look like any other in the world.” – Wendy Lesser

“Reading for pleasure is the lamp post in the wood. Any librarian who has matched a child to a book, any teacher who reads aloud to their class at the end of the day, any parent who has shared a book at bedtime with a son or daughter knows this.” – Chris Riddell (from his forward to Reading by Right: Successful Strategies to Ensure Every Child Can Read to Succeed)

“Sit in a room and read—and read and read. And read the right books by the right people. Your mind is brought onto that level, and you have a nice, mild, slow-burning rapture all the time.” – Joseph Campbell

“Books minister to our pain, our curiosity and wonder, our needs, our loneliness, our souls.” – Terri Guillemets

“Never read a book through merely because you have begun it.” – John Witherspoon

“[E]very true reader has a secret life, which is equally intense, complex, and important. The books we read are no different from the people we meet or the cities we visit. Some books, people, or places hardly matter, others change our lives, and still others plant some idea or sentiment that influences our futures. No one else will ever read, reread, or misread the same books in the same way or in the same order. Our inner lives are as rich and real as our outer lives, even if they remain mostly unknowable to others. Perhaps that is why books matter so much.” – Dana Gioia (“Lonely Impulse of Delight: One Reader’s Childhood,” in Studying with Miss Bishop: Memoirs from a Young Writer’s Life)


“Reading is an adventure. Adventures are about the unknown. When I started to read seriously I was excited and comforted all at the same time. Literature is a mix of unfamiliarity and recognition. The situation can take us anywhere — across time and space, the globe, through the lives of people who can never be like us — into the heart of anguish we have never felt — crimes we could not commit.

Yet as we travel deeper into the strange world of the story, the feeling we get is of being understood — which is odd when you think about it, because at school learning is based on whether or not we understand what we are reading. In fact it is the story (or the poem) that is understanding us.

Books read us back to ourselves.”

– Jeanette Winterson (Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, 1985)

“In one sense, reading is a great waste of time. In another sense, it is a great extension of time, a way for one person to live a thousand and one lives in a single lifespan, to watch the great impersonal universe at work again and again, to watch the great personal psyche spar with it, to suffer affliction and weakness and injury, to die and watch those you love die, until the very dizziness of it all becomes a source of compassion for ourselves, and our language, which we alone created, and without which the letter that slipped under the door could never have been written, or, once in a thousand lives—is that too much to ask?—retrieved, and read.” – Mary Ruefle (“Someone Reading a Book is a Sign of Order in the World,” in Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures)

“The great and mysterious thing about this reading experience is this: the more discriminatingly, the more sensitively, and the more associatively we learn to read, the more clearly we see every thought and every poem in its uniqueness, its individuality, in its precise limitations and see that all beauty, all charm depend on this individuality and uniqueness — at the same time we come to realize ever more clearly how all these hundred thousand voices of nations strive toward the same goals, call upon the same gods by different names, dream the same wishes, suffer the same sorrows. Out of the thousandfold fabric of countless languages and books of several thousand years, in ecstatic instants there stares at the reader a marvelously noble and transcendent chimera: the countenance of humanity, charmed into unity from a thousand contradictory features.” – Hermann Hesse (“The Magic of the Book,” My Belief: Essays on Life and Art)

“I prefer the company of well-read people to non-readers. We tend to understand each other and share comparable senses of irony, humor and all-around values. We like ideas, yes, but we usually like words and their artful arrangement even more.” – Patrick Kurp (at his blog Anecdotal Evidence, August 12, 2022)

“Part of the pleasure in reading is in the splendor of language properly deployed, but an even greater part comes from satisfying one’s curiosity. If lust has an intellectual equivalent, might it not be curiosity which is allowed free rein? Though few are the books I regret having read, much of my reading has been altogether desultory—and continues to be.” – Joseph Epstein (“Bookless in Gaza” in The Middle of My Tether, 1983; quoted by Patrick Kurp at his blog Anecdotal Evidence, January 18, 2023)

“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.” – Robert Louis Stevenson (“A Gossip on Romance”; quoted by Patrick Kurp at his blog Anecdotal Evidence, January 17, 2023)

“The normal consequence of having read a book with admiration and enjoyment is a desire that others should share one’s feelings. There are, however, if I can judge from myself, occasional exceptions to this rule. Every now and then, I come across a book which gives me the impression of having been especially written for me. In the case of a work of art, the author seems to have created a world for which I have been waiting all my life; in the case of a ‘think’ book, it seems to answer precisely those questions which I have been putting to myself. My attitude towards such a book, therefore, is one of jealous possessiveness. I don’t want anybody else to read it; I want to keep it all to myself.” – W.H. Auden (in a 1958 review of Hannah Aendt’s The Human Condition; quoted by Patrick Kurp at his blog Anecdotal Evidence, April 12, 2023)

“I used to fully commit to finishing a book, even if I disliked it. But since realizing that I am, in a general way, dying, I’ve decided there isn’t enough time to finish books that weren’t meant for me. Who thought finitude could be so liberating?” – Hernan Diaz (in “Some of the Books That Hernan Diaz Owns Surprise Even Him,” New York Times, May 18, 2023)


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