Every time I read a good novel (currently Anna Karenina), it astonishes me to see to what extent getting wrapped up in fictional characters seems to lend a purpose to life. There are some pleasures that can come from many sources, but in my life the pleasure of feeling part of a group — which is what makes life seem to have a meaning — comes from exactly two: close friends, and good books. In the absence of the former, the latter is an alarmingly good substitute.

- Lloyd N. Trefethen