All dedicated readers have an unspoken hope, indeed most have a powerful inner sense, that reading is making them wiser, larger … better. This belief is affirmed again and again in these 21 essays. It is a paean to the solitary, silent act of ingesting words and inhabiting the worlds they create. It might be that this collection of essays does no more than confirm to us addicts the full arc of the reading high; no more than explain in words a pleasure we are serially sated by. But it does so, by-and-large, with the potency of the stuff it explains – it is a lovingly written catalogue of the first books, the favourite books, the highs, the craic … the getting better. This book, with its many affirmations and declarations, is pretty close to being archaeological and doctrinal proof of the personally transubstantive act that is reading.
Anson Cameron, The Age
The Simple Act of Reading is a great compendium of knowledge because it mines the memories of numerous wordsmiths in search of their reading epiphanies. The Simple Act of Reading brims with joy, nostalgia and affection. Sunil Badami sums up beautifully why we cherish certain books: "because they say, in ways we can't, things we wish we could. They're not sermons but conversations, reminding us we're not alone, we're not the only person to feel this way."
Thuy On, The Sunday Age
From the warmth and generosity of spirit exhibited by these writers in sharing their deeply personal and richly evolved insights, we learn more about why books and reading are critical to the continuation of a strong and resilient culture. We also come to appreciate the part they can play in our individual growth and development into effective human beings with the courage and willingness to seek meaning and understanding from within our own hearts and minds and from the wider world we inhabit and share with others.
Suzanne Marks, Newtown Review of Books