A book being a finite object must come to an end eventually. Sometimes the last page of a book is a relief, other times it is a sad parting because you were enjoying its company so much. This weekend I had a sad final parting with Reading in Bed edited by Steven Gilbar. It was a marvelous book that inspired some great blog discussion about reading and rereading. It was a comforting and fun yet thought provoking book.
The essays in the book are often short, no more than five pages which make them perfect to read in bed before going to sleep, which I did. Glorious luxury. The only unfortunate aspect of the book is that there are only two women – Elizabeth Bowen and Lynne Sharon Schwartz – amongst the essayists.
I’ve got lots of passages marked that I plan on copying out to keep in my commonplace book. Here’s a sampling:
I feel certain that if I could read my way back, analytically, through the books of my childhood, the clues to everything could be found. /The child lives in the book; but just as much the book lives in the child. ~Elizabeth Bowen
Pre-slumber reading should be a kind of small private devotion during which we beat a quiet retreat from the practical. ~Clifton Fadiman
A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say. ~Italo Calvino
If the reader is not at risk, he is not reading. And if the writer is not at risk, he is not writing. ~Harold Brodkey
If a book’s any good we never read the page number. ~Stanley Elkin
There are many more gems but you’ll just have to find a copy of this book and discover them for yourself.