On books and life

The American writer and dilettante Logan Pearsall Smith once said: “Some people think that life is the thing; but I prefer reading.” When I first came across this, I thought it witty; now I find it – as I do many aphorisms – a slick untruth. Life and reading are not separate activities. The distinction is false (as it is when Yeats imagines a choice between “perfection of the life, or of the work”). When you read a great book, you don’t escape from life, you plunge deeper into it. There may be a superficial escape – into different countries, mores, speech patterns – but what you are essentially doing is furthering your understanding of life’s subtleties, paradoxes, joys, pains and truths. Reading and life are not separate but symbiotic. And for this serious task of imaginative discovery and self-discovery, there is and remains one perfect symbol: the printed book.

~Julian Barnes, author, in My Life As A Bibliophile

How very true!


16 thoughts on “On books and life

  1. Nodding head raised to and for your words, TGND. I have never read those lines before, but they do make sense to me. When reading is life to a soul, one can hardly draw a line or even think of it. They are hardly dissociative like that. Just like music and travel, too. In fact, if something means a lot to you, it means the life to you, right?

    I love reading your passion for reading, I so share it proudly 🙂


  2. You L.O.V.E reading (to put up posts like that), don’t you TGND? 🙂

    A few years back I was like that. Reading was a BIG part of my life. I have slowed down a lot now with other things in life taking over 😦 And this post reminds me of good old days. Sigh!


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