For Tuesday, April 2, 2019:
We wouldn’t need books quite so much if everyone around us understood us well. But they don’t. Even those who love us get us wrong. They tell us who we are but miss things out. They claim to know what we need, but forget to ask us properly first. They can’t understand what we feel — and sometimes, we’re unable to tell them, because we don’t really understand it ourselves. That’s where books come in. They explain us to ourselves and to others, and make us feel less strange, less isolated and less alone. We might have lots of good friends, but even with the best friends in the world, there are things that no one quite gets. That’s the moment to turn to books. They are friends waiting for us any time we want them, and they will always speak honestly to us about what really matters. They are the perfect cure for loneliness. They can be our very closest friends.
Alain de Botton in A VELOCITY OF BEING: LETTERS TO A YOUNG READER, compiled by Maria Popova of brainpickings.org
For Tuesday, March 5, 2019:
The great and mysterious thing about this reading experience is this: the more discriminatingly, the more sensitively, and the more associatively we learn to read, the more clearly we see every thought and every poem in its uniqueness, its individuality, in its precise limitations and see that all beauty, all charm depend on this individuality and uniqueness — at the same time we come to realize ever more clearly how all these hundred thousand voices of nations strive toward the same goals, call upon the same gods by different names, dream the same wishes, suffer the same sorrows. Out of the thousandfold fabric of countless languages and books of several thousand years, in ecstatic instants there stares at the reader a marvelously noble and transcendent chimera: the countenance of humanity, charmed into unity from a thousand contradictory features.
Hermann Hesse, ‘The Magic of the Book,’ MY BELIEF: ESSAYS ON LIFE AND ART
For Tuesday, February 12, 2019:
The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with “Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have! How many of these books have you read?” and the others — a very small minority — who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, THE BLACK SWAN: THE IMPACT OF THE HIGHLY IMPROBABLE
For Tuesday, February 5, 2019:
“‘ … I read someplace … that a dictionary is every book ever written and every book that will be written, just in a different order. And it seemed magical. You could own every book just by owning one book …'”
Sue Halpern, SUMMER HOURS AT THE ROBBERS LIBRARY
For Friday, January 4, 2019:
Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable — but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.
I’ve had a long career as a writer, and a good one, in good company. Here at the end of it, I don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want and should demand our fair share of the proceeds; but the name of our beautiful reward isn’t profit. Its name is freedom.
Ursula K. Le Guin, Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000–2016, with a Journal of a Writers Week
For Friday, April 27, 2018:
The buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching toward infinity.
A. Edward Newton
For Friday, December 22, 2017:
“‘If you take a book with you on a journey,’ [her father] Mo had said … ‘an odd thing happens: the book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice-cream you ate while you were reading it … yes, books are like flypapers. Memories cling to the printed page better than anything else.'”
Cornelia Funke, from her children’s novel INKHEART (2004)
For Friday, June 23, 2017:
We need not fear a future elimination of the book. On the contrary, the more that certain needs for entertainment and education are satisfied through other inventions, the more the book will win back in dignity and authority. For even the most childish intoxication with progress will soon be forced to recognize that writing and books have a function that is eternal. It will become evident that formulation in words and the handing on of these formulations through writing are not only important aids but actually the only means by which humanity can have a history and a continuing consciousness of itself.
Hermann Hesse, ‘On Little Joys’ in MY BELIEF: ESSAYS ON LIFE AND ART
For Tuesday, June 13, 2017:
BOOKS FEED AND CURE AND
CHORTLE AND COLLIDE
In all this willful world
of thud and thump and thunder
man’s relevance to books
continues to declare.
Books are meat and medicine
and flame and flight and flower,
steel, stitch, and cloud and clout,
and drumbeats in the air.
Gwendolyn Brooks, ‘Book Power’
For Friday, June 9, 2017:
It is remarkable, the character of the pleasure we derive from the best books … There is some awe mixed with the joy of our surprise, when this poet, who lived in some past world, two or three hundred years ago, says that which lies close to my own soul, that which I also had wellnigh thought and said.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘The American Scholar,’ ESSAYS AND LECTURES