“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us. That is my belief.” —Franz Kafka
Always remember that books have authors. Don’t read them as if they’re impersonal objects with lifeless words on pages. When you read, strive to engage with the author as if they are present with you; listen and respond, learn and reflect. The book wasn’t made by a printing press alone.
Inasmuch as you read, also reflect.
Read rightly, books provide the reader with fresh views of life that will enrich their own experience forever after. Far from being an escape from the world in printed form, great writings offer readers new and wonderful insights that plunge them more deeply into the world. Insights that will heighten their own experience; insights that might never have been gained otherwise.
Read rightly, books allow readers to have conversations with influential people across time and place. Through reading, one can listen to the powerful ideas of great thinkers and be absorbed by the stories of wonderful novelists. In a time in which deep listening is scarce, reading compels us to quiet our minds and be attentive.