Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The Reading Life

How Reading Changed My LifeHow Reading Changed My Life 
by Anna Quindlen

“Reading has always been my home, my sustenance, my great invincible companion. "Book love," Trollope called it. "It will make your hours pleasant to you as long as you live." Yet of all the many things in which we recognize some universal comfort...reading seems to be the one in which the comfort is most undersung...”   ― Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life

If I wrote this book it would be titled How Books Made My Life. I do not remember a time when I was not surrounded by books, visiting the library and reading books. Anna Quindlen, in a sense, lived a life made as well as "changed" by books. She shares the impact of books on her dreams and beliefs in delightful narrative vignettes of her experiences reading books. Early on she had her Tale of Two Cities and I had my Oliver Twist (I took it with me to read while I attended Summer Boy Scout Camp when I was thirteen).

I remember from my reading as a young boy feeling the same excitement she describes (p 21) becoming friends with strangers. Crusoe and Friday. Tom and Huck.  Jim Hawkins and David Balfour.  Pip and Jane Eyre. These and other literary characters remain friends to this day and to them I have added Daisy and Gatsby. Ishmael and Ahab. Marcel and Robert Saint-Loup. Achilles and Odysseus. There are also tragic characters whose experiences have enriched my life;  they include Jude and Tess, Oedipus and Antigone, Anna Karenina and Emma Bovary.  And many others including searchers like Binx Bolling and Harry Haller. The characters have become friends and their adventures have become part of my reading life. In addition to her soothing prose Anna adds a few "arbitrary and capricious" suggestions for her fellow readers. These are also worth the price of the book. I believe every reader would find this book both infectious and inspiring.

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Brian Joseph said...

This post is very close to my heart James.

I really should read this book. As you did, it seems like I can really relate to it.

James said...


Like you I enjoy books about reading and the impact books may have on one's life.