The other day I read something spectacular about the act of reading. It was this:
"That's the thing about books. They're alive on their own terms. Reading is like travelling with an argumentative, unpredictable good friend. It's an endless open exchange." (p. 2.)
I LOVE that. It's perfect. And I love that it's not only about books OR reading; it's about the two of them together. And the incongruity of "argumentative" and "unpredictable" and "good." Perfect. The line comes in Ali Smith's introduction to a new literature anthology titled (again perfectly) The Book Lover, which is a collection of poems and short excerpts from the literature and authors that have influenced Smith (herself an author--her latest collection of stories, The First Person, is an interesting book) over the years. Represented here you'll find glimpses of Jane Austen, Margaret Atwood, Zora Neale Hurston, John Keats, Grace Paley, Colette, Cynthia Ozick, John Donne, A.M Homes, Thomas Hardy, William Blake, Joyce Carol Oates and many, many more. Smith is a British author, and I don't know if that's the reason, but there are a great many names in her collection that I don't recognize at all...which is also kind of exciting.
But I'll admit it. The thing I've enjoyed most so far about this collection is Smith's introduction, and that fabulous line about reading.
I thought that would probably be it for the week, as far as fantastic quotes about reading went. But then I was perusing an article about the Amazon Kindle, by Sven Birkerts, at the Atlantic (link via Fimoculous), and I came across another one:
"I’m not blind to the unwieldiness of the book, or to the cumbersome systems we must maintain to accommodate it—the vast libraries and complicated filing systems. But these structures evolved over centuries in ways that map our collective endeavor to understand and express our world. The book is part of a system. And that system stands for the labor and taxonomy of human understanding, and to touch a book is to touch that system, however lightly."
Okay, that one's more about books. But I can't help it. I love reading...but I love reading books more. Either way, though, it's been a fabulous week for reading about reading.