Isn’t it odd how much fatter a book gets when you’ve read it several times?…As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells…and then when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you, like a pressed flower… both strange and familiar.
Inkspell, Cornelia Funke
Almost everywhere, the community of readers has an ambiguous reputation that comes from its acquired authority and perceived power. Something in the relationship between a reader and a book is recognized as wise and fruitful, but it is also seen as disdainfully exclusive and excluding, perhaps because the image of an individual curled up in a corner, seemingly oblivious of the grumblings of the world, suggests impenetrable privacy and a selfish eye and singular secretive action. (”Go out and live!” my mother would say when she saw me reading, as if my silent activity contradicted her sense of what it meant to be alive.) The popular fear of what a reader might do among the pages of a book is like the ageless fear men have of what women might do in the secret places of their body, and of what witches and alchemists might do in the dark behind locked doors.
A History of Reading, Alberto Manguel
It was Proust who said that one does not read a novel, one only rereads it. This is essentially correct. The experiences of reading a novel and rereading it are quite different – one knows what is going to happen – and yet quite the same. It is the same text, after all. Yet first-time readers of a book are, in a sense, at an extreme disadvantage – precisely because they do not know what is going to happen. So the only way to get the measure of a book is to read it again. If you can’t face reading it again, then you might start thinking that you shouldn’t have read it once.
Nicholas Lezard, Guardian Unlimited
I’m in the supermarket one day with my cart, and there’s this woman, about 95,” King recalled at the Regency the other day. “She says, ‘I know who you are. You write those stories, those awful horror stories . . . I don’t like that. I like uplifting movies like that ‘Shawshank Redemption.’ So I said, ‘I wrote that.’ And she said, ‘No, you didn’t.’ And that was it. Talk about surreal. I went to myself, for a minute, ‘It’s not very much like my other stuff. Maybe I didn’t write it!’
Why do we read fiction, anyway? Not to be impressed by somebody’s dazzling language–or at least I hope that’s not our reason. I think that most of us, anyway, read these stories that we know are not “true” because we’re hungry for another kind of truth: the mythic truth about human nature in general, the particular truth about those life communities that define our own identity, and the most specific truth of all: our own self-story. Fiction, because it is not about somebody who actually lived in the real world, always has the possibility of being about ourself.
—Orson Scott Card