Saturday 29 July 2023

Why We Read - (Or, at the very least, why I do).

    I've just finished Joe Queenan's One for the Books, a wonderfully readable hymn to the joys of books and reading. I wrote a little review of it here, on my Sorry, Marlies blog. I'm aware that this won't make everyone want to rush out and purchase a copy, and that's fine, so I want to share what I think is the best description I've encountered yet of what reading means to us. I've never seen it put so pointedly or, perhaps surprisingly, so movingly.

    I think it's a gem.

    'Reading is the way mankind delays the inevitable. Reading is the way we shake our fist at the sky. As long as we have these epic, improbable reading projects arrayed before us, we cannot breathe our last: Tell the Angel of Death to come back later; I haven't quite finished Villette. This is, I believe, the greatest gift books that books give to mankind. Every life, even the best ones, ends in sadness. People we adore pass on; voices we love to hear are stilled forever. Books hold out hope that things may end otherwise. Jane will marry Rochester. Eliza will foil Simon. Valjean will outlast Javert. Pip will wed Estella. The wicked will be overthrown, and the righteous shall prosper. As long as there are beautiful books waiting for us out there, there is still a chance that we can turn the ship around and find a safe harbour. There is still hope, in the words of Faulkner, that we shall not only survive; we shall prevail. There is still hope that we shall live happily ever after.'

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