Tuesday, January 23, 2018
To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.But cf. the very same sentence in W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), Books and You (London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1940), pp. 6-7:
It is well to acquire the habit of reading. There are few sports in which you can engage to your own satisfaction after you have passed the prime of life; there are no games except patience, chess problems and crossword puzzles that you can play without someone to play them with you. Reading suffers from no such disadvantages; there is no occupation—except perhaps needlework, but that leaves the restless spirit at liberty—which you can more easily take up at any moment, for any period, and more easily put aside when other calls press upon you; there is no other amusement that can be obtained in these happy days of public libraries and cheap editions at so small a cost. To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.
This reminded me of a passage in his novel Of Human Bondage, where the narrator says somewhat more concerning his semi-autobiographical main character (ch. 9):Hat tip: Ian Jackson.
Insensibly he formed the most delightful habit in the world, the habit of reading: he did not know that thus he was providing himself with a refuge from all the distress of life; he did not know either that he was creating for himself an unreal world which would make the real world of every day a source of bitter disappointment.