On reading (and why the book must not die)

I saw an article in my Facebook feed the other day titled, “Science Shows Something Surprising About People Who Still Read Fiction.” The “surprising” thing is that those readers have better relationships (you can read the article here), but I was more stuck on the title. STILL read fiction? The “still” makes it sound like reading fiction is an absurd notion, like, “I still suck my thumb at night” or “I still run with a Discman” or “I still watch movies on VHS.” The “still” makes it seem like reading fiction is a dying hobby.

Is it?

I sure hope not. I don’t just say that because I’m publishing a freaking novel next year (woohoo!), but because I LOVE to read. We just got one of those cushy leather chairs with an ottoman for our living room and I can’t explain the joy I felt jumping into it and curling up with a book. I read for 3 hours straight one day over the holiday break and I felt amazing. Reading is total comfort to me, like mac-n-cheese or episodes of Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I can’t imagine my life without it.  Am I that alone in saying such a thing? Please say no.

ShortList.com humored me with quotes from 40 Famous Authors on Reading to make me feel better. Those of us who love reading better unite (and keep buying books). I fear the “or else.”

Here are some favorites:

Ernest Hemingway: “There is no friend as loyal as a book.”

JD Salinger: “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”

Stephen King: “Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn’t carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.”

Maya Angelou: “When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.”

Gustave Flaubert: “The one way of tolerating existence is to lose oneself in literature.”

Honoré de Balzac: “Reading brings us unknown friends.”

Henry Miller: “We should read to give our souls a chance to luxuriate.”

Kurt Vonnegut: “I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. This to me is a miracle.”

JK Rowling: “I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.”

Vladimir Nabokov: “Knowing you have something good to read before bed is among the most pleasurable of sensations.”

And this is my very favorite (from George R.R. Martin):

a reader lives

>> Read all 40 quotes

5 thoughts on “On reading (and why the book must not die)

  1. I still read and write fiction. I hope it isn’t dying out in a world filled with electronic gadgets. I also agree with you, nothing like a great book to spend hours of time with. I hope the younger generation doesn’t lose that joy.

    1. My little nephews love books, so that gives me hope! YA novels continue to be huge. I feel like if kids fall in love with reading before life gets too crazy, it will stick with them. I hope.

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