Merton on Reading, Writing, and Thinking

I always have at least three books going at the same time.

If it is a book with any substance at all you are forced to think. The real joy of reading is not in the reading itself but in the thinking which it stimulates and which may go beyond what is said in the book.

Traditionally, for a monk, reading is inseparable from meditation.

The writer who has “influence” on the people who really need to read him must have something important to say.

No writer who has anything important to say can avoid being opposed and criticized.

It seems to me that a man or a woman goes to college not just to get a degree and a good job, but first of all to find himself and establish his true identity.

Therefore, if a man is going to make authentic judgments and do some thinking for himself, he is going to have to renounce the passivity of a subject that merely sits and “takes in” what is told him, whether in class, or in front of the TV, or in the other mass media. This means serious and independent reading, and it also means articulate discussion.

The mere fact that an idea is new and exciting does not necessarily make it true. Truth is important and the whole purpose of thinking is to be able to tell the difference between what is true and what only looks good.