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reading

Reading in a life-giving way is not primarily a matter of reading but of living; of how we read our lives. Don Quixote idolized Amadis of Gaul, Emma Bovary idolized her lovers and Werther idolized Lotte. The primary reason for the Werther effect is that readers of Goethe’s novel committed the same idolatry through mimetic desire as did Werther. If we are too embroiled in our mimetic desires to have eyes to see what Cervantes and Flaubert see, then we will only see what Goethe seems to have been able to see when he wrote Werther: the despair of desiring a woman desired by another who has made that woman unattainable. That is, the way the readers of Werther were living their lives affected their reading and their reading reinforced the way they were living their lives. Ignatiusly Reading

A book is like a mirror: if an ass looks in, you can’t expect an apostle to look out. G. C. Lichtenberg

…the noisier the environment, the more readers are driven to be silent. It is only in “privacy and solitude” that reading aloud or murmuring can ever be a reasonable option, and rarely have our ancestors had that option. The boy trying to study at the kitchen table while the clamor of family life goes on around him is a typical figure in the history of reading. No one could plausibly claim that we late-moderns are uniquely challenged in this respect: surely a higher percentage of human beings today have regular access to silence that at any time in human history. Most Americans and Western Europeans, and many people elsewhere — not all, mind you — live in environments with quiet rooms, or quiet corners. And many who lack quiet homes have had access to libraries, which have for centuries been dedicated, as it were, to silence. Text Patterns

I’ve grown up in a society saturated with the idea of relativist morality, political correctness and social hedonism. Democracy, unregulated capitalism and scientific realism all are the foundational philosophical structures behind these ideologies. Unfortunately, unlike previous generations which accomplished great successes by working together. Instead, the consumerism we are surrounded with places our societies in an individualistic hell. Hell ceases to be other people, and becomes not being able to ever work with other people effectively. The more you read, the more you see most obvious truths could be very wrong

Most men have learned to read to serve a paltry convenience, as they have learned to cipher in order to keep accounts and not be cheated in trade; but of reading as a noble intellectual exercise they know little or nothing; yet this only is reading, in a high sense, not that which lulls us as a luxury and suffers the nobler faculties to sleep the while, but what we have to stand on tip-toe to read and devote our most alert and wakeful hours to. Thoreau

School is no place for a reader. An object of suspicion and a source of discord in the classroom, the reading child is a threat to school harmony. Her act of reading is itself a provocation to authority. She must be stopped and made to play team games or gaze dumbly at a screen. The silent reader dangerously escapes supervision and the escape is most threatening when the content of the book is unknown. School is no Place for a Reader

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I get lost in worlds wholly created by an author, imagined but containing truths about life, incisively commenting about life, reproducing it in beautiful new ways, putting me in the mind of another human being, grabbing my heart and dragging it through the thrill of falling in love or the dull numbness of divorce or the fear of being found out, giving me the power of flight or omniscience or magic, confessing about guilty deeds and crimes and affairs, taking me into richly reimagined periods of history, helping me time travel and space travel and regular travel into new lands, showing me how other people live in helplessness, in slavery, in squalor, in power and luxury, in prostitution and presidency, making the mundane seem magical and the magical seem possible. This is why I read. zenhabits

I could harp on forever as to why we need to push the little ones in to falling in love with the written word, but let’s draw to a close with this. The written word has a huge advantage over what we say. By that I mean the writer gets to convey exactly what they really want, exactly how they want to convey it. And one of its many and appealing secrets is that it allows us the luxury of consideration, of almost sounding better than we really are. Of course it’s still entirely us but I can’t tell you how many published authors I have met who can barely string two words together. Give them a keyboard and they can take on the world. Chris Evans

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