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?
Stack Exchange network consists of 181 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.Visit Stack Exchange
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
... 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.
I think it means life is in doing things, not waiting for something to happen.