I was tagged by Stephanie from Adventures of a Bibliophile to do the 3 Days 3 Quotes tag/challenge/meme/thing! As you can see already, I don’t much have a way with words so let’s move onto the entire point of this challenge which is to post a book or reading related quote every day for three days, tagging three people at the end of each day’s post.
Of course because this is me, I’m going to unpack the quote a little bit each day, explaining why I chose it, and also perhaps musing a little on the concept of reading that it addresses (I might have also accidentally added a couple of supplementary or supporting quotes, whoops!). But, without further ado…
“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”
– The History Boys by Alan Bennett
If you saw my recent discussion post about book genre snobbery, you will see I mentioned that quote there – and for very good reason! I think this quote encapsulates what it is to be a reader – what is to suddenly feel a moment of recognition that somebody else understands and feels as you do.
In doing so, you feel less alone. In doing so, you feel connected to a character whose life experience could be very different to your own and yet you are akin in the shared sense of what is to be human, what it is to think and feel. In doing so, you begin to feel as if you know something of a person who might very well be long dead (the author) or, naturally, entirely fictional (the character).
I’ve always seen reading as an odd sort of time travel, you can explore times and places you wouldn’t otherwise be able to, and you get to see them through the eyes of the authors and their characters. Likewise, writing is an odd sort of communication with the past, present, and future – as an author, what you write is a way of ensuring something of yourself (or at least your creativity and thoughts) is preserved past your own death. It’s something you can observe concerned people in the 17th century just as much in the 21st, from metaphysical poets such as John Donne to contemporary indie rock bands such as Bastille:
“We can die by it, if not live by love,
And if unfit for tombs and hearse
Our legend be, it will be fit for verse;
And if no piece of chronicle we prove,
We’ll build in sonnets pretty rooms;
As well a well-wrought urn becomes
The greatest ashes, as half-acre tombs,
And by these hymns, all shall approve
Us canonized for Love”
– ‘The Canonisation’ by John Donne
I can’t say the words out loud
So in a rhyme I wrote you down
Now you’ll live through the ages,
I can feel your pulse in the pages.
I have written you down,
Now you will live forever,
And all the world will read you,
And you will live forever,
In eyes not yet created,
On tongues that are not born
– ‘Poet’ by Bastille
Yes, it’s safe to say I’m intrigued by quotes and books that deal with this concept of memorialisation through literature and of connecting with someone through words themselves when you wouldn’t otherwise have ever crossed paths – there’s something fittingly poetic about that!
I’m terrible with tagging people so I apologise if I pick you and you have already done it or don’t want to do it, but for the sake of sticking to the rules like a good little girl, I hereby tag: