Ann Quindlen’s book, “How Reading Changed My Life” is exactly what the title suggests, and that is an accomplishment. She loves the books she writes about and you feel her sincerity, when she tells us that and how they took her to different places.
Quindlen said of her own book love: “It will make your hours pleasant to you as long as you live.” Yet of all the many things in which we recognize some universal comfort – God, sex, food, family, friends – reading seems to be the one in which the comfort is most under sung, at least publicly, although it was really all I thought of, or felt, when I was eating up book after book, running away from home while sitting in that chair, traveling around the world and yet never leaving the room. I did not read from a sense of superiority, or advancement, or even learning. I read because I loved it more than any other activity on earth.”
Her revelation in the book about a "special neighbor" serves to help us understand this book love. She said that when she was about ten years old, “Mrs LoFurno began allowing me to borrow books from her basement, books without plastic covers, without cards in brown paper pockets in the back filled with the names of all the others who had read Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates before me. Many of her books were older books, with the particularly sweet dusty smell that old books have; they had bookplates in the front………………It was both a world in which, I imagined, books would be treasured, honored, even cosseted on special shelves, and a world that had formed its imaginary self in my mind from books themselves.”
The fact that she alone determined what she thought of the books she picked and read from her neighbor’s library let her start her approach to books with a purity that comes through in this book.
“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”
“In books I have traveled, not only to other worlds, but into my own.”
“those of us who read because we love it more than anything, who feel about bookstores the way some people feel about jewelers.