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.
Charity in reading involves avoiding quick dismissal and cheap disdain, resisting the ego satisfaction of allowing a text only to confirm one’s prejudices, and seeking the good in a text, choosing its truths over its defects.
From David Smith summarizing Alan Jacobs in Teaching and Christian Practices (a good book to come back to regularly).
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.
A written tradition, when deciphered and read, is to such an extent pure mind that it speaks to us as if in the present. That is why the capacity to read, to understand what is written, is a like a secret art, even a magic that losses and binds us. In it time and space seem to be suspended. The man who is able to read what has been handed down in writing testifies to and achieves the sheer presence of the past.
From Discerning the Mystery by Andrew Louth.
Dramatically slamming a book shut upon finishing it was way more satisfying than switching my Kindle off and gently placing it on the table.
from Aaron Karo in Reader’s Digest (March 2012, page 101).