"We human beings build houses because we're alive but we write books because we're mortal. We live in groups because we're sociable but we read because we know we're alone. Reading offers a kind of companionship that takes no one's place but that no one can replace either. It offers no definitive explanation of our destiny but links us inextricably to life. Its tiny secret links remind us of how paradoxically happy we are to be alive while illuminating how tragically absurd life is."