To Light a Fire

Ujjian, India

Myanmar/Burma

To learn to read is to light a fire;
every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.
– Victor Hugo

Yugoslavia

China

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.
– Jorge Luis Borges

Rome, Italy

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Mumbai, India

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!
How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book!
When I have a house of my own,
I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.
–  Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Venice, Italy

Uttar Pradesh, India

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed,
and some few are to be chewed and digested.
– Francis Bacon

Istanbul, Turkey

Near Al Hudaydah, Yemen

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!
– Emily Dickinson

Afghanistan

We read to know we are not alone.
– C.S. Lewis

Monastery in Litang, Kham, Tibet

Chiang Mai, Thailand


Reading is a means of thinking with another person’s mind;
it forces you to stretch your own.
– Charles Scribner

Kuwait City, Kuwait

Kunduz, Afghanistan

Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily,
often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.
– Joyce Carol Oates

Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Burma

Susan Sontag said, “The camera makes everyone a tourist
in other people’s reality…”
The same can be said for reading books

Rieti, Italy

Sana’a, Yemen

The ability to read awoke inside me some
long dormant craving to be mentally alive.
Autobiography of Malcolm X

Victoria Memorial Hall,  Kolkata. India

Lourdes, France

Reading was my escape and my comfort, my consolation,
my stimulant of choice: reading for the pure pleasure of it,
for the beautiful stillness that surrounds you when you hear an
author’s words reverberating in your head.
– Paul Auster, The Brooklyn Follies 

Pakistan

When I get a little money I buy books;
and if any is left I buy food and clothes.
– Erasmus

46 thoughts on “To Light a Fire

  1. As always, the images you make are just… incredible.
    Truly inspiring piece makes me want to hide all day in a book, thank you!

  2. You are the master at reading light. I particularly like the image of the man on the hood of the car in Mumbi India. He ‘s the focal point but the blur of moving vehicles and another person makes it even more interesting as though life continues while he is concentrating on the newspaper. What was the slow shutter speed? Tripod, etc. Your images always teach.

  3. Queste foto o immagini,di Steve. macCurry mi danno la sensazione di stare lì presente, veramente straordinario favoloso. ..

  4. I have been a long time fan & this post brought tears to my eyes. beautiful. thank you. I start to panic if I don’t have a few books waiting for me when I finish the book I currently can’t put down. thank you so much for your wonderful work.

  5. These pictures are wonderful, evocative and invite the viewer to imagine a story. The quotes are unecessary to me, only the last one is funny.
    Also there are far more men than women reading in the photos…
    Thank you Steve Mc Curry for these pictures!

  6. What strikes me about your images is at once how very grounded and present the readers all seem — while at the same time they’re transported into a different world, one that exists only between the words on the page and their minds. You have such a gift for showing us the world through new eyes!

  7. Oh I was waiting for your beautiful picture of a young man reading in samarkhand, it’s one of my favourite pictures . All of these are amazing.

  8. Once again, beautiful photographs and equally bautiful quotes from far away places in the world. Thank you Stevebhai for sharing these amazing photographs.

    ”To read a newspaper is to refrain from reading something worth while. The first discipline of education must therefore be to refuse resolutely to feed the mind with canned chatter.”

  9. Great set of images, Steve. I remember reading Andre Kertesz’s On Reading, and thinking I must do my own mini project ….never did…..!

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