On Reading.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I was rereading Where Books Fall Open -- a reader's anthology full of drawings, paintings, poems, essays, etc about books and reading -- when I came across one of my favorite passages. I thought I'd share with you all, as I think you'd appreciate and relate to it more than anyone else I know.

On Reading
by Elizabeth Hardwick

As I have grown older I see myself as fortunate in many ways. It is fortunate to have had all my life this passion for studying and enjoying literature and for trying to add a bit to it as interestingly as I can. This passion has given me much joy, it has given me friends who care for the same things, it has given me employment, escape from boredom, everything. The greatest gift is the passion for reading. It is is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.


Do you, every time you finish a good book and pick up another one, stop and think about what reading means to you? For me, there are so many passages out there that can explain what it means to me. I can even write an entire essay, maybe even a long blog post rambling on about it. But I think this short passage sums up how I feel about it pretty darn well.
At least, for now.


  1. Lovely! I think reading a good book brings up all those feelings of what reading means to us, but we rarely set them down in writing, probably because it's hard to find just the right words. Blogging & sharing ideas with others certainly helps :)

  2. Wonderful quote! Elizabeth Hardwick definitely knew whereof she wrote. Thanks so much for sharing this, Jillian!

  3. I love that passage, since there are so few who read around where I live, reading it almost makes me feel unique and happy. Thanks for sharing girly :)

  4. I actually have thought about this more recently, but I love this passage! One of my goals for the new year has been to think more about what reading means to me, and what I can learn about myself through examining how I feel about what I read. Great post! :)

  5. I love Where Books Fall Open. It's such a beautiful book. And I found my copy completely by accident buried in a secondhand bookstore. Finding it like that completely reflects one of the things I love about reading - the sharing and community it can bring.

  6. This passage it's indeed really good!
    There is a passage that I like very much (not from the book you mentioned): "Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labelled 'This could change your life'." Helen Exley