Their care and attention, setting words on paper, makes you feel that thrill of recognition; you know with certainty that what they write is true, and you want to do what they do.
Crucially, it changes the way you behave. This involves being anti-social; the fact you regularly have to go into a room by yourself and not come out for hours, in some famous cases, days.
Reading habits become part of our legacy. A family that reads together passes down a wonderful inheritance; words enveloped in love, and thus given meaning.
Chinua, an Igbo from Nigeria of my father's generation, who wrote Things Fall Apart with its title by an Irishman and its split focus between a pre-colonial West African people and culture and a British colonial administrator; it was, when I read it, the best thing I had ever read.
A photograph of a Victorian Gothic villa which I immediately recognised because it's on a hill in my home town of Folkestone — in fact I can see it now from my study window as I sit here writing. This seemed to me to be a sign.
For four years, the poet Pascale Petit watched a black jaguar in a Parisian zoo. He became her heart of Amazonia darkness, her shaman, her father, her obsessional love. Then he was introduced to a potential mate.