|Walter Savage Landor|
From the author’s perspective, reading may seem like a one-way conversation: the author speaking to his or her readers. For readers, however, Landor’s comment rings true. We the readers "hear" what authors have to say while responding, if only in our own minds, with our own thoughts and feelings. Rereading, whether an entire book or a brief passage, allows the author another chance to speak.
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. — Joseph Addison
Addison's comment follows from Landon’s. Just as true conversation stimulates us, as we think of how we will reply to what we are hearing, so a good book stimulates our minds. We can watch television with a passive mind, but reading requires an active mind.
Then we have this longish quote from British writer Alan Bennett:
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 had come out and taken yours.
Most of us who spend any time reading at all have probably felt this way on occasion. That thought, feeling or way of looking at things may be better expressed by the writer than we could have done ourselves, but still it is our thought, feeling or way of looking at things. We have made contact with another human being, or more accurately, that other human being has made contact with us. We are not alone.
It is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin; another’s soul. — Joyce Carol Oates
Reading is equivalent to thinking with someone else’s head instead of with your own. — Arthur Schopenhauer
I have lumped these two quotations together because they say something similar. They both take what Landor, Addison and Bennett are saying and carry it one step further. Reading at its best is not just having a conversation with an author, not just finding someone who agrees with us about something, but it is, in a sense, sharing the same mind and soul, however briefly, with that author.
Reading, then, can take us from talking to touching to sharing the same mind and soul. To contribute my own metaphor, it can be something like a love affair.