read therefore i am

“To write a book is for all the world like humming a song.” Laurence Sterne

“A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.” Robert Frost

“Wherein lies a poet’s claim to originality? That he invents his incidents? No. That he was present when his episodes had their birth? No. That he was first to repeat them? No. None of these things has any value. He confers on them their only originality that has any value, and that is his way of telling them.” Mark Twain

“…the tale that’s told for no other reason but companionship, which is another (and my favorite) definition of literature, the tale that’s told for companionship and to teach something religious, of religious reverence, about real life, in this real world which literature should (and here does) reflect.” Jack Kerouac, in Satori in Paris

“The test of literature is, I suppose, whether we ourselves live more intensely for the reading of it.” Elizabeth Drew

“…every poem is a momentary stay against the confusion of the world.” Robert Frost

“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” Anna Quindlen

“Literature…is a way to understand life, to appreciate living and therefore to participate in life to the fullest of your potential.” Eric Chock

“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” James Baldwin

“All one’s inventions are true, you can be sure of that. Poetry is as exact a science as geometry.” Gustave Flaubert

“For me, the promised land, always seeming just beyond my reach, is the poetic masterpiece, that perfect union of words in cadence, each beckoned and shined and breathed into place, each moving in well-tried harmony of tone and texture and meaning with its neighbors, molding an almost living being so faithful to observable truth, so expressive of the mass of humanity and so aglow with the beauty of just proportions that the reader feels a chill in his legs or a catch in his throat.” James A. Emanuel, in The Force and the Reckoning

The above quotes are “borrowed” from Janet Hulstrand, a writer, editor and teacher of writing and literature based in Silver Spring, Maryland. She teaches literature courses in Paris and Hawaii for the Education Abroad program at Queens College, CUNY, and twice a year she offers Writing from the Heart workshops in a beautiful little village in the Champagne region of France.

Other reasons:

To see the world as it really is.
To change ourselves.
To grow as humankind.
To question the world around us.
To discover truth.


“The relationship between literature and experience, however, is a reciprocal one. Just as literature allows us to participate in the experience of others, so too it has the power to shape and alter our attitudes and expectations. To know why we identify with one character and not another may tell us about the kind of person we are or aspire to be. If we are sensitive and perceptive readers, we have much to learn from these encounters, which can enrich the quality and affect the direction of our lives, though the precise effects of these encounters are impossible to predict and will vary from one reader to another. One mark of a ‘great’ work of literature is its ability to have an effect on the reader. In the same way, it is this affective power of fiction, drama, and poetry that helps to explain the survival of those works we regard as classics. [Works] survive as classics because they have offered generations of readers the opportunity to clarify and perhaps even modify their views of life and also because they shed life on the complexity and ambiguity of human existence, including the reader’s own.”

I’d encourage anyone who happens to read this to add their own favorite reasons….

love of books2