why we read

by

A few years ago, I made another (my third) attempt at joining an organized book club. As an incessant reader over many, many years, I’ve been involved in surprisingly few organized book-club groups.

 

For quite a while now, I’ve had a private “quiet book club” of sorts in that, over coffee most mornings, a friend and I chat about the books we’re each reading. But we’ve never actually read the same books.

 

Over the past fifteen years or so, I’ve been to only one meeting each of two different book-club groups. And after that one meeting, I knew that neither of those groups suited me for one reason or another.

 

At my first meeting of this (third) book club, I was asked, “Why do you read?”

 

Off the top of my head, and on the spot, the best answer I could come up with was that it’s simply something I’ve always done. I started reading early in life and, well, never stopped. Which is true, but it doesn’t really answer the question. Here’s a more complete answer …

 

 

Are you, like me, an introvert? A solitary sort?

 

Love to travel but also love to stay home?

 

If so, you can always find a good book to keep you company. A book that allows you to explore new places, experience different time periods or alternate worlds, unravel intellectual mysteries, and meet fascinating new people, without having to actually go anywhere.

 

And well-researched books — whether novels, historical fiction, history, or even the occasional non-fiction title — are a great way to satisfy a wide-ranging curiosity. It’s a good thing, indeed, when your book-reading habit teaches you, as mine has recently, more than you ever knew about wolves in the wild, Irish history, the nineteenth-century whaling industry, fifteenth-century printing presses, and so much more.

 

What truly fascinating things have you learned recently?

 

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Welcome to the online home of The Novel Cat, where reading, relaxing, and snuggling with cats are a way of life. I’m Jennifer, and I help former and aspiring readers maximize life’s simple pleasures — like the joy of savoring a good book — by helping them create quiet spaces (both mental and physical) inspired by the habits of cats, who are masters at finding joy in life’s small details.

“The only important thing in a book is the meaning it has for you.”

W. Somerset Maugham

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”

Cicero

“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.”

Marcel Proust

“Standing there, staring at the long shelves crammed with books, I felt myself relax and was suddenly at peace.”

Helene Hanff

“What a happy woman I am, living in a garden, with books … birds, and flowers, and plenty of leisure to enjoy them!”

Elizabeth von Arnim

“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.”

Neil Gaiman

“The art of reading is … an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us; when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind.”

Carlos Ruiz Zafón

“When I … looked round at the familiar bookshelves, and could hear no sounds but sounds of peace, and knew that here I might read or dream or idle exactly as I chose with never a creature to disturb me, how grateful I felt to the kindly Fate that has brought me here and given me a heart to understand my own blessedness.”

Elizabeth von Arnim