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People interested in putting together a very restricted canon of great books don’t really like reading; true readers, among whom I have the impertinence to include myself, are always sniffing out more and more titles. Reading is a hobby that never grows stale–and an unpunished vice.

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To read is not a virtue; but to read well is an art, and an art that only the born reader can acquire.

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The novel remains the one artistic form to explore our thoughts, to get inside our heads, and that is where we live.

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The value of books is proportionate to what may be called their plasticity — their quality of being all things to all men, of being diversely moulded by the impact of fresh forms of thought.

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Pay no attention to the facsimiles of the writer that appear on talkshows, in newspaper interviews, and the like — they out not to have anything to do with what goes on between you, the reader, and the page you are reading, where an invisible hand has previously left some marks for you to decipher, much as one of John le Carré’s dead spies has left a water-logged shoe with a small packet in it for George Smiley.

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We read to know we are not alone

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