Write because there is nothing to read

Walter Benjamin, in an essay called “Unpacking My Library,” writes that “Writers are really people who write books not because they are poor, but because they are dissatisfied with the books which they could buy but do not like.”

I spend a lot of time reading old books, and a few new ones. It seems to me that more books are like snack food than great meals, and it has always been so. But we live at a time when many great meals from the past are available to anyone who cares to read carefully and think. This, I think, bodes well for the future, when some of the great readers will get sick of the junk they are offered and reinvent the book, the magazine, fiction and non-fiction alike.

Call me an optimist, at last.

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