I got pretty good at pretending to understand more than I did, a skill which has served me through life. …But I’ve developed a great reputation for wisdom by ordering more books than I ever had time to read, and reading more books, by far, than I learned anything useful from.
From Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.
“They are proud and wilful, but they are true-hearted, generous in thought and deed; bold but not cruel; wise but unlearned, writing no books but singing many songs, after the manner of the children of Men before the Dark Years.”
From The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien.
He that studies only men, will get the body of knowledge without the soul; and he that studies only books, the soul without the body. He that to what he sees, adds observation, and to what he reads, reflection, is in the right road to knowledge, provided that in scrutinizing the hearts of others, he neglects not his own.
Caleb Colton quoted at the beginning of chapter five in Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster.
If all great art is symbolic of a kind of moral plenitude, of conflicting attitudes and impulses explored and worked through toward some ideal clarity, the act of reading is itself a model of ideal human relations, aspiring toward a perfect attentiveness in which emotional possession and intellectual comprehension–what experience conditions us to see and what the text insists we see–inform and alter one another. Reading well, in other words, is symbolic loving.
A friend quoted the poet Alan Shapiro as writing this. From his essay “The Dead, Alive, and Busy” (1984) published within In Praise of the Impure: Poetry and the Ethical Imagination: Essays, 1980-1991.
Now the sight of monsters walking among them seemed as normal as the seagulls that swooped and chattered in the air above the city.
From page 127 of Andrew Peterson’s On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness: Adventure. Peril. Lost Jewels. And the Fearsome Toothy Cows of Skree.
The book spines looked richer somehow in the lantern’s glow, and Janner thought of Oskar’s words at the start of the day: “Look around you, lad. This is the best of old Skree. Or at least, it’s what’s left of it.” …What Oskar had preserved was the memory of a world that had passed away as surely as Esben Igiby had passed away.
From pages 92 and 86 of the same book by Andrew Peterson.
Books And Thoughts
by Aldous Huxley
Old ghosts that death forgot to ferry
Across the Lethe of the years –
These are my friends, and at their tears
I weep and with their mirth am merry.
On a high tower, whose battlements
Give me all heaven at a glance,
I lie long summer nights in trance,
Drowsed by the murmurs and the scents
That rise from earth, while the sky above me
Merges its peace with my soul’s peace,
Deep meeting deep. No stir can move me,
Nought break the quiet of my release:
In vain the windy sunlight raves
At the hush and gloom of polar caves.