On reading books

“Some books are to be tasted,” he wrote, “others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others; but that would be only in the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of books…. ” (Clearly Bacon predicted the rise of the graduate research assistant, trudging through the monographic literature for some great professor’s benefit.) – Francis Bacon

I see in the turning of literal pages — pages bound in literal books — a compelling larger value, and perceive in the move away from the book a move away from a certain kind of cultural understanding, one that I’m not confident that we are replacing, never mind improving upon…. The book is part of a system. And that system stands for the labor and taxonomy of human understanding, and to touch a book is to touch that system, however lightly. – Sven Birkerts

Taken from The Reader, commentary on Amazon’s Kindle 2, by Scott McLemee.