Like the man—the fellow with the name Solomon, writing under the pen name Ecclesiastes—said, “Of the making of many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” So many books are there in the world that no one can get round to even all the best among them, and hence no one can claim to be truly well-read. Nobody has read, or can read, everything, and by everything I include only the good, the beautiful, the important books.Somehow it also gave me a rough sense of what is serious in the way of reading and what is not.Anyone who has read a hundred pages of Herodotus senses that it is probably a mistake—that is, a waste of your finite and therefore severely limited time on earth—to read a six-hundred-page biography of Bobby Kennedy, unless, that is, you can find one written by Xenophon. Note I write “point,” not “goal.” The bookish life can have no goal: It is all means and no end.of Frampol was offered the job of waiting at the village gates to greet the arrival of the Messiah.“The pay isn’t great,” he was told, “but the work is steady.” The same might be said about the conditions of the bookish life: low pay but steady work.Among the most beneficial departures from standard college fare at the University of Chicago was the brilliant idea of eliminating textbooks from undergraduate study.This meant that instead of reading, in a thick textbook, “In his Not only read them, but, if they were like me, became excited by them.I grew up in a home proudly Jewish but not in the least bookish.I don’t believe we even had a dictionary in our apartment during the years I was growing up.“I would very much love to grasp things with a complete understanding,” Montaigne wrote, “but I cannot bring myself to pay the high cost of doing so. “It involves Russia.”) But why, one wonders, would you wish to speed up an activity that gives pleasure? I’d as soon take a course in speed-eating or speed-lovemaking.Yet the notion of speed generally hovers over the act of reading.