To read books is to try to know oneself. There are obviously influences that play a part. Childhood, growing up, adolescence and the influence of peers and friends. Then a chance encounter with a book, a sudden revelation in a bookshop, a novel, a poem and one embarks on an unstoppable journey. The love grows, the tenderness for books matures, there is a longing to read, it is an appetite that is consuming at times.
Yet, there are readers who only read a particular genre of books and hold others in disdain. And there are others who assume a lofty position, seeking to identify with the writers or poets they read. There is a culpable amount of arrogance there, of falling in love with the idea and not the message, with words but not the odd music they could generate. This becomes an unholy habit and spirals out of control. One ends up standing for books that no longer seem dear, after the dust and grime of childhood has melted into awkward realism of reality.
The true value of books is not necessarily the exclusive leitmotiv of literature. The message or nirvana, if one is looking for that lies in the aftermath of much reading.......for the wine glass, emptied, could either look dirty or be a reminder of a happy heartbeat.
However, that said, it is in the domain of true literature that some find everlasting joie de vivre, of the words, ideas, loves, affections, crimes, dreams and desires that they wished they could or had perpetuated. True writing must be a reminder of our own thoughts and if it doesn't do that, then it fails.
On the other hand, the cheap romantic or crime novels that some consume like air also helps relieve much anguish for so many. Whether that too is true art is debatable must not be the question. The question must always be of one's own unhappy or happy affair with words.
I must end by saying that we gravitate to habits good or bad, loves requited and not, dreams dark and unrealistic and friends dear and deplorable. So too with books. We find them and perhaps, they too have decided to choose us.