I am having a hard time understanding the following Logan Pearsall Smith quote:

People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.

Googling didn't help much other than whose quote it is. What exactly does the above quote mean?

4 Answers 4


... life is the thing.

The definition of the thing that is being used here is:

informal what is socially acceptable or fashionable

And the definition for life is

vitality, vigour, or energy

Smith is saying that he prefers reading to that. It is somewhat sarcastic.


My interpretation is that he finds more satisfaction in the world of books and reading than actual physical experiences in life, contrary to the generally held view that physical experiences are what most people find more satisfying.

More simply: he prefers reading to physical activities and social interaction.


Maybe it is just hyperbole. Of course (ordinary) life is enjoyable, but reading can provide special vicarious experiences.

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    – Community Bot
    Dec 26, 2022 at 3:31

I think it means life is in doing things, not waiting for something to happen.

  • 3
    I don't think that's what it means at all. Oct 4, 2012 at 13:00
  • :) yes, if you want to know 100% what the meaning was put in this quote, than you should ask Logan Pearsall Smith, otherwise is just interpretation, agree
    – diadiora
    Oct 4, 2012 at 13:23

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