One of the most reassuring and surprising insights I found in reading Harold Bloom’s literary criticism, was the realization that he wrote for a hidden audience of ‘great readers’ engaged in their own intimate rituals, and that, in this, I was less isolated than I felt at the time.

Call it optimism, but I am not yet convinced that great readers are becoming more scarce.  What is more scarce, perhaps, is the time and space for great reading, because lives are overloaded with options and obligations.  This only seems to get worse the more technology is thrown at us to make our lives ‘easier’.

This quotation reflects another earlier in the book, by a character from the previous generation. The Shadow of the Wind, from which this quotation comes, has an ending which includes a wonderful and thriving book shop.

‘Bea says that the art of reading is slowly dying, that it’s an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us, that when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind, and that great readers are becoming more scarce by the day.’

See also our celebration of this book, complete with a mosaic of illustrated quotations and metaphors.


Source: Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind, trans. Lucia Graves (London: Phoenix, 2012), p. 502

Photo credit: Nina Köpfer at


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