The enjoyment of reading

It is the art of entertaining oneself with the brains of other men.

I dedicate a considerable portion of my time with other people — reading their thoughts and their hearts, dreaming away my life in others’ speculations, as I lose myself in another man’s mind.

When I cannot think, books think for me.

I have no repugnance. I can read almost anything which I call a book, blessing myself for a taste of something so Catholic and so unexcluding. A Shakespeare or Million’s possession, strange to say, raises no sweet emotion nor tickling sense of property in the owner, in its state of being a little torn or dog-eared.

For a genuine lover of reading, the sullen leaves and the worn-out appearance don’t matter if a book is good and rare. They speak of a hundred thumbs that have turned their pages with delight.

Some names of our poets sound sweeter and have a finer relish to the ear. The sweetest names are Marlowe, Keats and Byron.

Sometimes, much depends on when and where you read a book.

Reading Wordsworth’s Milton almost requires the solemn sound of music to be played, because when he brings his own music, it requires docile thought and purged ears.

The gentle Shakespeare enters in the season of winter evenings, when the world is shut out and when there are no ceremonies.

The Tempest, if not his own Winter Tale are read aloud to oneself.

Books of interest (that hurry on for incidents) are for the eyes to glide over only.

Modern novels could be irksome and unkind to the nerves.

Newspapers read out loud is intolerable, even if they always excite curiosity.

Yet, what can be more delightful than being a house guest, finding two or three magazines of Vanity Fair? You amuse yourself with tete-a-tete pictures and some antiquated scandal.

Would you exchange it, at such a time, for a better book? For weightier reading?

You can’t miss the pleasure of skimming over them with your own eyes.

Of outdoor reading, I can’t settle my spirits to it. But there’s a class of street readers, whom I can’t contemplate without affection — the poor gentry, who cannot buy or rent a book.

Filch a little learning at the open stalls while the vendor, with his eye casting looks and thinking when they will finish venturing tenderly, page after page.

People read because they like reading. Every new book that is likely to make noise must be read by some and devoured with avidity.

We read to say that we have read. I die for new books and the everlasting talk about them — how memories are woven; how ideas and insights are shared; life’s fresh hopes and little warnings, and the ability to overcome them.

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