Life is what happens to us between the pages. Proust wrote that reading engraves within us the happy memories of the life that is swirling all around us; for, like conversation, it consists of receiving another’s thoughts while “continuing to bring into play the mental powers we have in solitude and which conversation immediately puts to flight”.
Good reading is nearly as rare as good writing. I believe that they are both done usually by the same persons. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters to a Friend
In her essay How Should One Read a Book? Virginia Woolf poses us a little experiment to help us understand “the dangers and difficulties of words.”
Recall, then, some event that has left a distinct impression on you — how at the corner of the street, perhaps, you passed two people talking. A tree shook; an electric light danced; the tone of the talk was comic, but also tragic; a whole vision, an entire conception, seemed contained in that moment. Virginia Woolf, How Should One Read a Book?
In his essay On Reading, Proust. conjures up images of childhood reading that we can all identify with: carefree days lingering under the sun, but frequently interrupted by the demands of friends, family, and , which reading “has graven into us such happy memories of these things (memories much more valuable to us now than what we were reading with such passion at the time) that if, today, we happen to leaf through the pages of these books of the past, it is only because they are the sole calendars we have left of those bygone days, and we turn their pages in the hope of seeing reflected there the houses and lakes which are no more.”
According to Fadeyev:
- A good reader simultaneously fights for and against the writer.
- a bad reader either takes no sides or perhaps just one.
- A casual reader takes no sides, invests nothing in the argument, so tends to forget what he has read quickly.
- A dogmatic reader has his opinion already formed , so in reading he seeks only that which strengthens his positivism or his prejudice.
- A reader who has no opinion or seeks to form an opinion from books will blindly accept the ideas in the book without question.
Good readers go into a book with an intent to follow out an idea in order to grow his mind and engage with the writer in a serious debate. He makes certain that no uncertainties are left behind in the page but at the same time, ensures that he supports the writer.
In a letter, the writer Saul Bellow wrote that “I had, as a fanatical or engagé reader, studied over many decades gallery after gallery of old men in novels in plays and I thought I knew all about them.” Bellow then mentions a number of characters, including Prince Bolkonsky in War and Peace and King Lear, before concluding, “But all of this business about crabbed age and youth tells you absolutely nothing about your own self.”