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The Serious Reader Expands His Awareness of Self and Prizes Knowledge

alex atkins bookshelf quotations“The serious reader expands his circle of acquaintances, but is not unhappy with his friends. He expands his knowledge of place, but is not dissatisfied with home. He expands his awareness of self, but is not confused about his identity, his responsibilities, or his beliefs. He believes that other media overemphasize the modern, undervalue the traditional, and barely acknowledge the timeless… And the serious reader defines knowledge in his own way. [To borrow from John Henry Newman’s The Idea of a University,] knowledge is something the reader prizes for its own sake, as he would an object that is purely beautiful or a person whose standards are not subject to fluctuation by whim. The reader finds a piquancy to knowledge as it settles into the mind that is comparable to the last of a delicate food as it slowly melts onto the palate — a hedonistic view of learning to be sure, lush and impractical, but one he shares with countless other men and women over the centuries who, of impractical bent themselves, were nonetheless capable of great worldly achievement.”

From The Joy of Books: Confessions of a Lifelong Reader by Eric Burns, a writer, lecturer, and formerly a correspondent for NBC News. Burns also wrote Broadcast Blues: Dispatches from the Twenty-Year War between Television Reporter and His Medium.

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