In honor of the National Book Festival last weekend, The Big Reads blog asked literary critic Parul Sehgal to reflect on the power of books in her life. An editor at The New York Times Book Review, Ms. Sehgal previously worked as the books editor at NPR.org, and as a senior editor at Publishers Weekly. It’s a short column, and these were two of my favorite quotes:
Some of us read rapaciously and with mysterious agendas of our own. And I’d hazard that the more we—or our communities—have been disenfranchised or humiliated, the harder we’ll read when we come to books. Because we’re not just reading, are we? We’re spying. We’re reading ourselves into societies and narratives that have excluded us. We’re trying to get inside your head.
We read first for distraction then consolation then for company. And finally to be worthy of the company we kept.
(hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)