On my website there’s a quote from the writer Anthony Burgess: “The greatest gift is the passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind.”
I’ve always found that inspiring because the written word, as an art form, is unlike any other: movies, TV, music, they’re shared experiences, but books aren’t like that. The relationship between a writer and a reader is utterly unique to those two individuals. The world that forms in your head as you read a book will be slightly different to that experienced by every other reader. Anywhere. Ever. Reading is very personal, a communication from one mind to another, something which can’t be exactly copied, or replicated, or directly shared.
If I read the work of, say, one of the great Victorian novelists, it’s like a gift from the past, a momentary connection to another’s thoughts. Their ideas are down on paper, to be picked up by me, over a century later. Writers can speak individually to readers across a year, or ten years, or a thousand.
That’s why I love books.