Three thoughts regarding reading and first-hand experience:
MUCH have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne:
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific—and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
—John Keats, “On first looking into Chapman’s Homer”
No book or map is a substitute for personal experience; they cannot take the place of the actual journey. The mathematical formula for a falling body does not take the place of throwing stones or shaking apples from a tree.
—John Dewey, Schools of tomorrow
There are some who say that sitting at home reading is the equivalent of travel, because the experiences described in the book are more or less the same as the experiences one might have on a voyage, and there are those who say that there is no substitue for venturing out in the world. My own opinion is that it is best to travel extensively but to read the entire time, hardly glancing up to look out of the window of the airplane, train, or hired camel.
—Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter truths you can’t avoid