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'To Read Is to Fly': 25 Quotes on the Wonder of Reading

Reading is the closest thing to true magic that humans possess. It allows us to enter the mind of another person, to see what they see, experience what they feel, and understand their very personal perception of life. And along with this magical experience comes another fanciful and otherwise impossible idea: time travel. Reading can take us back into the thoughts of people who lived hundreds of years ago, or the inner lives of denizens of the future. Be it ancient Greece or a colony on the moon, we’re transported to worlds beyond our own, that come alive with the help of our imagination.

It's no surprise that books have fascinated and enchanted us for centuries. Even in this internet age, books and reading remain for many an essential part of life. Here, then, are some quotes about the power of reading, by everyone from René Descartes and Victor Hugo to Walt Disney and Benedict Cumberbatch.

To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.
— Victor Hugo

The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest men of past centuries.
— René Descartes

She read books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.
— Annie Dillard

It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.
— James Baldwin

While we read a novel, we are insane — bonkers. We believe in the existence of people who aren’t there, we hear their voices, we watch the battle of Borodino with them, we may even become Napoleon. Sanity returns (in most cases) when the book is closed.
— Ursula K. Le Guin

You may have tangible wealth untold; caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be. I had a mother who read to me.
— Strickland Gillilan, author

He that loves reading has everything within his reach. He has but to desire, and he may possess himself of every species of wisdom to judge and power to perform.
— William Godwin, philosopher and writer

Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.
— Frederick Douglass

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.
— Dr. Seuss

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island and at the bottom of the Spanish Main… and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.
— Walt Disney

Reading is the work of the alert mind, is demanding, and under ideal conditions produces finally a sort of ecstasy.
— E.B. White

Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write.
— William Faulkner

It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.
— S.I. Hayakawa, academic and politician

When you learn to read you will be born again… and you will never be quite so alone again.
— Rumer Godden, author

Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.
— Hazel Rochman

There are many little ways to enlarge your world.  Love of books is the best of all.
— Jacqueline Kennedy

Reading was my escape and my comfort, my consolation, my stimulant of choice: reading for the pure pleasure of it, for the beautiful stillness that surrounds you when you hear an author’s words reverberating in your head.
— Paul Auster

If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.
— Haruki Murakami

Reading is like thinking, like praying, like talking to a friend, like expressing your ideas, like listening to other people's ideas, like listening to music, like looking at the view, like taking a walk on the beach.
— Roberto Bolaño, Chilean novelist and poet

The best advice I ever got was that knowledge is power and to keep reading.
— David Bailey, photographer

To read is to fly: It is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience, and the fruits of many inquiries.
— A.C. Grayling, philosopher and author

Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.
– Joyce Carol Oates

Books allow you to see the world through the eyes of others. Reading is an exercise in empathy; an exercise in walking in someone else’s shoes for a while.
— Malorie Blackman, writer and former Children’s Laureate

If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.
— Maya Angelou

People forget about books. They’re always just turning on the television, but reading a good book is the most nourishing thing you can do.
— Benedict Cumberbatch

Photo credit: LuisPortugal/ iStock

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About the Author
Tony Dunnell
Tony is an English writer of non-fiction and fiction living on the edge of the Amazon jungle.
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