Why read?

What a preposterous question! How could anyone not want to read? My own hunger for reading began gnawing at me very early. Before I hit adolescence, I’d read nearly every book in our small neighborhood library. Today, I still read everything—books, magazines, Web sites, promotional copy on cereal boxes. Hell, I’m even nerdy enough to find a couple of hours of fascination in reading the dictionary. A book, for me, is as the Chinese proverb says, “like a garden carried in the pocket.” And, as for John Steinbeck, as I move from place to place, home has always been where my books are.

But enough about me. Writers write so we can read. And this week’s cover story, “Flash Fiction,” features the best short, short stories by local writers. Read their stories for all the pleasures, insight and knowledge they offer.

Before you get to that, here’s what some other writers have had to say about reading and fiction:

Eleanor Roosevelt: “The reason that fiction is more interesting than any other form of literature, to those who really like to study people, is that in fiction the author can really tell the truth without humiliating himself.”

William Styron: “Reading—the best state yet to keep absolute loneliness at bay.”

Ernest Hemingway: “All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse, and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was.”

Woody Allen: “I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in 20 minutes. It involves Russia.”

Henry Miller: “We should read to give our souls a chance to luxuriate.”

Spike Lee: “You’ve really got to start hitting the books, because it’s no joke out here.”