Everything has to be approached professionally, and even reading is no exception. In this sense, I liked Nabokov’s thoughts on how he approached reading…
Vladimir Nabokov’s rules for reading, which he laid out in his lectures on Russian and foreign literature.
- literature, real literature, should not be swallowed in one gulp, as a potion good for the heart or mind, this “stomach” of the soul. Literature should be taken in small doses.
- Chekhov wrote sad books for funny people; my point is that only a reader with a sense of humor will be able to truly feel their sadness.
- A writer can be evaluated from three points of view: as a storyteller, as a teacher, and as a magician.
- Strange as it may seem, a book should not be read at all; it can only be reread. A good reader, a selective, co-creative reader, is a rereader.
- There is bad music and weak performers, just as there is weak literature and untalented readers.
- The sensitive, admirable reader does not identify with the girl or young man in the book, but with the one who conceived and composed it.
- I am angry at those who like their literature to be educational, national, educational, or nutritious, like maple syrup and olive oil.
- A writer is dead when he begins to be preoccupied with such questions as “what is art?” and “what is a writer’s duty?”
- The obvious cheap stuff, oddly enough, sometimes contains something healthy that children and the simple-minded are happy to consume.
- When you read Turgenev, you know it’s Turgenev. You read Tolstoy because you just can’t stop.
- Truly the best hero a great artist creates is his reader.
- A good reader learns from childhood to beware of translators, truncated masterpieces, idiotic movies about the Karenin brothers, pandering to lazy people of all kinds, and quartering geniuses.
- Pushkin’s prose is three-dimensional; Gogol’s is at least four-dimensional. He can be compared to his contemporary, the mathematician Lobachevsky, who blew up the Euclidean world and discovered a hundred years ago many theories later developed by Einstein.
- A good reader is one who has imagination, memory, vocabulary, and some artistic taste.
- If Gorky’s world consists of molecules, in Chekhov’s, we are faced with a world of waves rather than particles of matter, which, incidentally, is much closer to the modern scientific view of the structure of the universe.
- The real reader is not interested in big ideas: he is interested in particulars.
- If you don’t like a book, you can still enjoy it by imagining a different, more correct view of things or, what is the same, by expressing your attitude to them differently than the hated author. The mediocre, the fake, the vulgar (remember that word) can at least bring gloating but extremely rewarding pleasure while you scoff at a second-rate, award-winning book.
- For in the world of vulgarity, it is not the book that becomes the triumph of its creator; it is the reading public who triumphs by swallowing the book along with the advertising on the cover.
- The entire history of fiction in its development is a study of the deeper and deeper layers of life. It is impossible to imagine that Homer in the ninth century B.C. or Cervantes in the seventeenth century would have described the birth of a child in such incredible detail.
- The ultimate dream of the writer is to turn the reader into an audience.
I would like to add to this a few lines of my own:
Everyone used to love to read books in the Soviet Union. It was fashionable to collect waste paper and exchange it for an opportunity to get a desired folio. There was not a single family that did not have many books collected in a small library. There were many magazines coming out. Young people read these books and shared their impressions. New poems, novels and stories were discussed. People were well-read and educated. Everything changed with the advent of the Internet. People stopped reading, it became fashionable to browse the news “diagonally”. But even this was little by little replaced by images with captions. Total degradation of the population began. Now nobody reads not only books, but also magazines. Their production is not profitable and this is sad. Gone is a beautiful era. Elon Musk suggests that information be downloaded directly into the brain through his device. If this keeps up, people may cease to be human…
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