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by Yu Qiuyu (1946 - )
English translation: Miao Guang

The biggest reason to why we read is to rid ourselves of mediocrity. Mediocrity is an attitude that passively seeks ways of survival. Mediocre people do not lack anything; they are just nonchalant about the excitements in this world, the length of human history, the sacredness of ultimate justice, or the profound meaning of life. What they are missing out on is something which no one, in their limited life experiences, can ever gain. Huang Shangu once said, “A mind without the enrichment of ancient and present experiences will in the long run become vulgar.

One’s reflection in the mirror will look repulsive, and their speech will sound tasteless in front of people.” This is the face of mediocrity.

Only books can bring the expansiveness of space and infiniteness of time in front of you; only books can direct the already flying signals of the noble life towards you; only books can present to you the profound wisdom in that wonderful contrast against ignorance and hideousness. For a five-foot tall being to be able to course through time and extend beyond the spaces within just a few short decades, such a miracle should be attributed mostly to the action of reading.

── from Yu Qiuyu Taiwan Yanjiang (Yu Qiuyu’s Lectures in Taiwan)