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Over The Fireside
by [?]

Most especially do I feel sorry for those people who cannot find a certain illusion of happiness in reading. I thank whatever gods there be that I can generally find the means of “getting-away” between the covers of a book. A book has to be very puerile indeed if I cannot enjoy it to a certain extent–even though that extent be merely a mild ridicule and amusement. I can even enjoy books about books–if they are very well done, which is rare. I am not particularly interested in authors–especially the photographs of authors, which usually come upon their admirers with something approaching shock–because I always think that the most interesting part of an author is what he writes, not what he looks like. What he writes is generally what he is. You can’t keep everything of yourself out of anything you may write–and thank Heaven for it! Apart from the story–often indeed, before the story itself–the most delightful parts of any book are the little gleams of the writer’s point of view, of his philosophy, of his own life-experiences, which glint through the matter in hand, and sometimes raise a commonplace narrative into a volume of sheer entrancing joy. And perhaps one of the most difficult things to write is to write about books–I don’t mean “reviews.” (Almost anybody can give their opinion on books they have read, and tell you something about them–which is nine hundred and ninety per cent. of literary reviews.) But to write about books in a way which amuses you, or interests you, and makes you want immediately to read the book in question–that is a more difficult feat. And sometimes what the writer about books says about books is more entertaining than the books themselves. But then that is because of those little gleams of the personal which are always so delightful to find anywhere.