A Velocity of Being: Letters to A Young Reader

Maria Popova

Finished Reading:
Jul 1, 2019

Edition Publisher:
Enchanted Lion Books

Edition Release:
Dec 14, 2018

Purchase Search via DuckDuckGo:
ISBN 9781592702282

Highlights & Annotations

“Claudia and I decided to do something about it – which is, of course, always the only acceptable form of complain – not by fear-mongering or by waving the moralizing should-wand, but by demonstrating as plainly yet passionately as possible that a life of reading is a richer, nobler, larger, more shimmering life” (introduction)

“Dear Reader,

We wouldn't need books quite so much if everyone around us understood as well. But they don't. Even those who love us get us wrong. They tell us who we are but miss things out. They claim to know what we need, but forget to ask us properly first. They can't understand what we feel – and sometimes, we are unable to tell them, because we don't really understand it ourselves. That's where books comes in. They explain us to ourselves and to others, and make us feel less strange, less isolated and less alone. We might have lots of good friends, but even with the best friends in the world, there are things that no one quite gets. That's the moment to turn to books. They are friends waiting for us anytime we want them, and they will always speak honestly to us about what really matters. They are the perfect cure for loneliness. They can be our very closest friends. 


Alain de Botton” (24)

“Reading can create such encounters in the head, so that the ones that happen in the world are little less crude, a little less deformed by fear and anger.” (34) Martha Nussbaum

“Reading teaches me the answers to problems I haven't had yet, or the problems I didn't even know how to describe. And when I feel less alone with what troubles me, it is easier to find solutions. A book to me is like a friend, a shelter, advice, an argument with someone who cares enough to argue with me for a better answer than the one we both already have.” (44)

Alexander Chee

The whole letter by Helen Fagin (58) where she talks about when Poland was occupied by Nazi’s and how stories (in this case, Gone With the Wind) were portals to other worlds and brief moments of hope in a traumatic time.

The whole letter by Aracelis Girmey (82) re: how the sentence is like a time machine and how writing and stories outlast their creators.

“...sometimes you're just reading along, minding your own business, and the author suddenly puts a particular combination of innocent seeming words together and the next thing you know, BAM!, you recognize a part of yourself that you didn't know existed anywhere else in the universe, in those words, and you feel the swimming sense of interconnection to other human beings. It's disorienting. It's invasive. It's humbling.” (152) Courtney E. Martin

“Smith referenced Blake whom critics compared to Rumi...I added them all to my mounting syllabus….These writers were all influenced by each other! Their works and ideas seemed to be having a conversation all their own” (224) Dawn Landes

“Those books became my guides for interpretation, teaching me to ask the questions. To stay open. To understand that every life, every family, every city, state and nation is a composite of the beautiful, ugly, shimmering, dull, chaotic, peaceful, colourful, quiet and exquisite world that is ours. 

Modern life will pull you toward so many distractions. Push them away for books, for the love of ideas, for constant friends who will share their truths, if not the truth. Immerse yourself in worlds created and understood by the author's own immersion. 

The more books you read, the more you will pay attention. The more you will wonder and discover. The best books will become like talismans, touchstones, prayers that imprint the soul. 

So read, my friend. Embrace the world. Come home to yourself.” 

– Jacqueline Novogratz (232)