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What seafarer has not suffered from a bout of loneliness and boredom? These twin monsters can creep in like the tide after one’s watch is over and there is little else to do. Some seafarers may plunge into depression. One maritime charity group seems to think that a two-day online course on mental health costing £125 per participant will address the problem. What a silly idea! Why not promote instead the love for reading amongst seafarers? As the following quotes suggest, books can do wonders for both mind and spirit.

Books are the greatest and the most satisfactory of recreations. I mean the use of books for pleasure. Without books, without having acquired the power of reading for pleasure, none of us can be independent, but if we can read we have a sure defence against boredom in solitude.

— Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon, Recreation Address at Harvard University (1919)

The first time I read an excellent book, it is to me just as if I had gained a new friend. When I read over a book I have perused before, it resembles the meeting with an old one.

— Oliver Goldsmith, The Citizen of the World; or, Letters from a Chinese Philosopher, Letter LXXXIII (1762)

To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.

— W. Somerset Maugham, Books and You (1940)

When I read a book I seem to read it with my eyes only, but now and then I come across a passage, perhaps only a phrase, which has a meaning for me, and it becomes part of me.

— W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage (1915)

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island and at the bottom of the Spanish Main… and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.

— Walt Disney, Walt’s Quotes, Walt Disney Archives

Without the word, without the writing of books, there is no history, there is no concept of humanity. And if anyone wants to try to enclose in a small space, in a single house or a single room, the history of the human spirit and to make it his own, he can only do this in the form of a collection of books.

— Hermann Hesse, ‘The Magic of the Book’ (1930)

All that Mankind has done, thought, gained or been it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of Books. They are the chosen possession of men.

— Thomas Carlyle, Heroes and Hero Worship (1840), Lecture V

He hath never fed of the dainties that are bred in a book; he hath not eat paper, as it were; he hath not drunk ink: his intellect is not replenished; he is only an animal, only sensible in the duller parts.

— William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost (c. 1595-6)

The young watch television twenty-four hours a day, they don’t read and they rarely listen. This incessant bombardment of images has developed a hypertrophied eye condition that’s turning them into a race of mutants.

— Federico Fellini, I’m a Born Liar: A Fellini Lexicon (2003)

Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body: as by the one, health is preserved, strengthened and invigorated; by the other, virtue, which is the health of the mind, is kept alive, cherished and confirmed.

— Joseph Addison, The Tatler (1754)

Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.

— Gustave Flaubert, letter to Mademoiselle Leroyer de Chantepie (1867)

It is true that we get nothing whatsoever except pleasure from reading; it is true that the wisest of us is unable to say what that pleasure may be. But that pleasure — mysterious, unknown, useless as it is — is enough. That pleasure is so curious, so complex, so immensely fertilizing to the mind of anyone who enjoys it, and so wide in its effects, that it would not be in the least surprising to discover, on the day of judgment when secrets are revealed and the obscure is made plain, that the reason why we have grown from pigs to men and women, and come out from our caves, and dropped our bows and arrows, and sat round the ?re and talked and drunk and made merry and given to the poor and helped the sick and made pavements and houses and erected some sort of shelter and society on the waste of the world, is nothing but this: we have loved reading.

— Virginia Woolf, How Should One Read a Book? (1926)

Marine Café Blog has a growing number of books in its Downloads section. And they’re all FREE.

~ Barista Uno

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