It needs to be repeated that books are much more than merely vehicles for text. Awareness of the way a book is created, the materials of which it is made, flipping through the volume to see how it is arranged, the intended readership, the clues of the previous ownership and use, and potential problems in its conservation - all these become almost instinctive for experienced readers. (For rare-book custodians, such things as smelling a volume or shaking a leaf to hear the rattle provide further "forensic" information.) This is like an extension to the metadata (such as a book's Dewey class number), which is still largely absent from e-books.
A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition. Like money, books must be kept in constant circulation... A book is not only a friend, it makes friends for you. When you have possessed a book with mind and spirit, you are enriched. But when you pass it on you are enriched threefold.
When I look through Bob, the actual stories between his mottled covers may have been written by others, but they belong to me now. Nobody else on the planet has read this particular series of books in this exact order and been affected in precisely this way. Each of us could say the same about our respective reading trajectories. Even if we don’t keep a physical Book of Books, we all hold our books somewhere inside us and live by them. They become our stories.
Choosing a book is so gratifying, it’s worth dragging out the process, starting even before finishing the current one. As the final chapters approach, you can pile up the possibilities like a stack of travel brochures. You can lay out three books and let them linger overnight before making a final decision in the morning. You can Google the reviews; ask other people if they’ve read it, collect information. The choice may ultimately depend on the mood and the moment. ‘You have to read a book at the right time for you,’ Lessing also said, ‘and I am sure this cannot be insisted on too often, for it is the key to the enjoyment of literature.
To whom do books belong? The books we read and the books we write are both ours and not ours. They're also theirs.
You should read this book’ almost never simply means you should read this book. It is usually far more fraught. Telling someone what to read, even asking politely, can feel more like an entreaty or an implied judgment or a there’s-something-you-should-know than a straightforward proposal. If you read this book, then you love me. If you read this book, then you respect my opinions. If you read this book, you will understand what it is I need you to understand and can’t explain to you myself.
Only bad books have good endings.If a book is any good, it's ending is always bad - because you don't want the book to end.
When I come home and look back through my Book of Books I see a personal narrative I didn’t recognize at the time. I went from escaping into books to extracting things from them, from being inspired by books to trying to do things that inspired me—many of which I first encountered in stories. I went from wishing I were like a character in books to being a character in my books. I went from reading books to wrestling with them to writing them, all the while still learning from what I read.
A book a week I heave a sigh;That Slogan's peremptory cryI will not hear, I will not heed.How can They say that I should needThe book They bid me weekly buy?But Slogans change, as days go by;My Psyche listens, fluttering shy,To newer message "Come and ReadA book a week."To read! to read! O wings that flyO'er sun-kissed lands, through clouded skyThat bear us on where Great ones lead!I too must follow, so I pleadFor magic wings. I'll read (or try)A book a week!
It really is an APPALLING thing to think of the people who have no books...It is only by books that most men and women can lift themselves above the sordidness of life. No books! Yet for the greater part of humanity that is the common lot. We may, in fact, divide our fellow-creatures into two branches - those who read books and those who do not.