Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness we return to books: to find words for what we already know.
As readers, we are seldom interested in the fine sentiments of a lesson learnt; we seldom care about the good manners of morals. Repentance puts an end to conversation; forgiveness becomes the stuff of moralistic tracts. Revenge - bloodthirsty, justice-hungry revenge - is the very essence of romance, lying at the heart of much of the best fiction.
I like to imagine that, on the day after my last, my library and I will crumble together, so that even when I am no more I'll still be with my books.
If justice takes place, there may be hope, even in the face of a seemingly capricious divinity.
Unicorns, dragons, witches may be creatures conjured up in dreams, but on the page their needs, joys, anguishes, and redemptions should be just as true as those of Madame Bovary or Martin Chuzzlewit.
At one magical instant in your early childhood, the page of a book—that string of confused, alien ciphers—shivered into meaning. Words spoke to you, gave up their secrets; at that moment, whole universes opened. You became, irrevocably, a reader.
Books may not change our suffering, books may not protect us from evil, books may not tell us what is good or what is beautiful, and they will certainly not shield us from the common fate of the grave. But books grant us myriad possibilities: the possibility of change, the possibility of illumination.
I wanted to live among books.
Each book was a world unto itself, and in it I took refuge.
We can imagine the books we'd like to read, even if they have not yet been written, and we can imagine libraries full of books we would like to possess, even if they are well beyond our reach, because we enjoy dreaming up a library that reflects every one of our interests and every one of our foibles--a library that, in its variety and complexity, fully reflects the reader we are.
I don't remember ever feeling lonely; in fact, on the rare occasions when I met other children I found their games and their talk far less interesting than the adventures and dialogues I read in my books.
Every reader exists to ensure for a certain book a modest immortality. Reading is, in this sense, a ritual of rebirth.
Ultimately, the number of books always exceeds the space they are granted.
In my fool hardy youth, when my friends were dreaming of heroic deeds in the realms of engineering and law, finance and national politics, I dreamt of becoming a librarian.
My books hold between their covers every story I've ever known and still remember, or have now forgotten, or may one day read; they fill the space around me with ancient and new voices.
Readers, censors know, are defined by the books they read.
Unpacking books is a revelatory activity.
Readers are bullied in schoolyards and in locker-rooms as much as in government offices and prisons.
If every library is in some sense a reflection of its readers, it is also an image of that which we are not, and cannot be.
But at night, when the library lamps are lit, the outside world disappears and nothing but the space of books remains in existence.