Saturday, August 31, 2013

August's routine repairs

In the month of August 1943, while stationed in Espirito Santo, in addition to extensive and continuing repairs to HMAS HobartDad's ship, Vestal, tackled numerous routine repairs to various vessels of the fleet. In relative order of service and repair, these ships included: YFD-21, Celeno, Monogahela, PC-477, SS Matthew Lyon, YMS-97, DenverPatapscoCleveland, LST-448, LST-485. Plus Vestal tended to various shop jobs on ships and at the harbor base.

At least 5 times this month the ship was ordered to general quarters as enemy planes were spotted. On the 24th, the shore batteries fired at aircraft off and on for 2 1/2 hours.

Source: USS Vestal War Diary, August 1943

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Overhaul of USS LST-448

On today's date in 1943, Dad's ship, USS Vestal, began overhauling the tank landing ship, LST-448. It was one of at least a dozen LSTs Vestal repaired while stationed at Espiritu Santo this year. What could not be known at the time, however, was that this particular landing ship was about to meet an untimely end.

By 1942, there was an urgent need for relatively large, ocean-going ships capable of shore-to-shore delivery of tanks and other vehicles in amphibious assaults. The LSTs were designed with a large ballast system that could be filled for ocean passage and pumped out for beaching operations. The keel for the first LST was laid down in June 1942. The first LSTs were completed by October, and 23 were in commission by the end of the year. Over a thousand of these ships were completed in American shipyards by war's end.

A WWII LST and Rhino Barge
Source: WW2HQ
LSTs were indispensable for supporting amphibious operations in Europe and in the Pacific. Constructed with the capacity to carry multiple tanks, wheeled and tracked vehicles, artillery, construction equipment, and military supplies, these remarkable ships could actually land their cargo on the beach. In addition to cargo, LSTs were also equipped with sectional pontoons carried on each side of the ship, to either construct wide floating platforms ("Rhino Barges") or use as causeways. Connected to the bow ramp, the causeways enabled payloads to be delivered ashore from deeper water or where a beachhead would not allow the vessel to be grounded. The LSTs also could transport troops, with accommodations for 16 officers and 147 enlisted men in addition to her own crew complement of 7 officers and 104 enlisted men.

Armed with 2 twin and 4 single 40MM, plus 12 single 20MM guns, LSTs had the capacity to defend themselves. However, the enemy considered them an important target, and when beached they were vulnerable. Nevertheless, their structural design provided unusual strength on the beach and remarkable buoyancy at sea.*

USS LST-485, which Vestal also worked on in August 1943
Source: NavSource Online
Launched in December 1942, LST-448, currently being overhauled on this date by Vestal's crew, began her war service in early 1943, carrying war materials to Australia. From there LST-448 began regular convoy runs to the Solomon Islands. She took part in routine resupply and also hostile shore landings as Allied forces consolidated their control of the islands around Guadalcanal and New Georgia.

LST-448 supported the Allied landing on Vella Lavella Island in the Western Solomons in August 1943. After loading a contingent of New Zealand soldiers at Guadalcanal, she left for Vella Lavella on September 29. She landed on the beach at Maravari on October 1. After her successful beaching, the ship began unloading her supplies of men and material. Stranded by the outgoing tide as her crew continued to unload her, LST-448 became a target for approaching Japanese dive bombers. Firing from its guns at the incoming planes, joined by supporting fire from guns on shore, the Japanese planes were still able to drop several bombs onto the beached ship. Two bombs made a direct hit, killing or wounding 36 of her crew and 16 of the New Zealand troops. Near misses alongside the ship caused further damage, and a fire consumed much of the forward end of the ship. Explosions of her cargo of fully-fueled vehicles and munitions contributed to the ruin.

Although severely damaged, nevertheless LST-448 was refloated. She was pulled off the beach at Maravari and under tow toward Guadalcanal when she took on water and sunk on October 5.

LST-448 earned the Navy Unit Commendation and 2 Battle Stars for her World War II service.

* The fascinating and detailed story of a sister ship, the USS LST-481, is told by John H. Dougherty at his website, The USS LST-481.

Sources: USS Vestal War Diary, August 1943; Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Vol. 7

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Work on the USS Cleveland

For a few days in August, beginning on today's date in 1943, Dad's ship, Vestal, did repair work to the boilers of the light cruiser, USS Cleveland. The cruiser will be back again for more boiler work in September.

Commissioned in June 1942, the ship saw extensive service in the war, both the Mediterranean and Pacific theaters. Cleveland's first war service was in November supporting the invasion of North Africa. She covered landings in French Morocco where she remained on patrol before returning to Norfolk late that same month.

Cleveland's new assignment was in the Pacific in December 1942. By late January 1943, her first mission was in the Solomon Islands to help guard a troop convoy on its way to Guadalcanal. Cleveland fired on the enemy as she came under heavy air attack in the Battle of Rennell Island on the 29th-30th. In early March, after the Allied victory in the Solomons Campaign, the cruiser bombard Japanese airfields at Vila on Kolobangara before joining in the night action which sank 2 Japanese destroyers in the Battle of Blackett Strait. In June, Cleveland again participated in bombarding the enemy, this time in the Shortland Islands. Then she provided cover for the invasion at Munda, New Georgia.

Following a short repair period at Sydney, and then stopping at Espiritu Santo in August, where Vestal re-bricked her boilers, Cleveland sailed to support the bombardment and landings on the Treasury Islands in late October. By November 1, she was supporting troops invading nearby Bougainville, then the same day returned to bombard the Shortlands. That same night Cleveland intercepted a Japanese force in the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay, where she attacked 4 enemy cruisers, aided in the sinking of one, then pursued the fleeing ships until daybreak, downing several enemy planes in the process. For her action in the battle, Cleveland earned the Navy Unit Commendation. The ship returned to Buka for another bombardment in late December, then saw action patrolling the area around northeast New Guinea into February 1944.

After supporting the capture of Emirau Island in March 1944, Cleveland sailed back to Sydney for replenishment and repairs. By April, she was back in the Solomons to practice for the Mariana and Palau Islands Campaign, then from June to August, Cleveland participated in the operation. During the invasion of Tinian in July, Cleveland came to the aid of the US destroyer, Norman Scott. Cleveland's crew bravely maneuvered between the destroyer and the shore batteries, preventing her from taking any more hits and saving the stricken ship. Cleveland then provided fire support for invading troops. Next, she participated in the task force that fought in the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June, where she was credited with destroying at least 1 enemy aircraft and assisting in downing another.

In September, Cleveland participated in the invasion of Palau, then in October, she sailed to the States for an overhaul. Back in the Philippines in February 1945, she sailed on to bombard Corregidor. After the Allies retook that Japanese island fortress, Cleveland continued to support the consolidation of the Philippines, covering subsequent landings through June. On June 15, she picked up Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Manila for the assault at Balikpapan on Borneo.

In July, Cleveland sailed to Okinawa where she participated in attacks against Japanese shipping. After Japan's formal surrender on September 2, 1945, Cleveland left Okinawa to support the occupation of Japan and the evacuation of Allied prisoners of war. In November, she sailed back to the East Coast for overhaul. She participated in various training exercises before her inactivation in June 1946. The USS Cleveland was taken out of commission in February 1947, and then she languished in reserve until being sold for scrap in 1960.

In addition to her Navy Unit Commendation, Cleveland received 13 Battle Stars for her WWII service.

Sources: War Diaries for USS Vestal & Cleveland, August & September 1944; NavSource Online; Wikipedia

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Routine repairs to USS Patapsco

For several days starting on today's date in 1943, Dad's ship, Vestal, performed miscellaneous repairs to the gasoline tanker, USS Patapsco, which she had also worked on in June (Vestal will again work on her in November). Service ships like Patapsco were essential in the dangerous task of transporting gasoline to warships in the fleet and remote naval stations.

Launched in August 1942, the tanker was designated AOG-1, the first ship in her class. The Patapsco was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater, operating out of New Caledonia, the Solomons, and New Hebrides until the end of 1944. She next worked out of New Zealand, then back to the Solomons until mid-1945. She then shifted with most of the fleet to Ulithi in the Caroline Islands until the end of the war. Patapsco continued her Pacific service until heading to the states in February 1946, where she was decommissioned the same year.

USS Patapsco
Source: NavSource Online

Unlike most Navy ships that helped to win WWII, Patapsco saw war action for a second time. She was brought back into service in 1950 when the hostilities broke out in Korea. She fueled vessels off the coast of the Korean Peninsula, serving there through the end of 1952. She continued service in the Navy until decommissioning in 1955.

Patapsco was recommissioned yet a third time in June 1966, for service in the Vietnam War. The ship completed 3 tours of duty during that conflict.

The veteran tanker was decommissioned for the final time and struck from the Naval Vessel Register in 1974. But even then, that was not the end of her life. She was sold in 1979, and converted to a fishing trawler, renamed Arctic Storm. The ship still serves in that capacity today, 70 years after receiving war-time repairs from Vestal at Espiritu Santo.

Arctic Storm
Source: Arctic Storm Management Group, LLC

USS Patapsco received 1 battle star for her World War II service, 1 for her Korean service, and 7 Campaign Stars for her service in the Vietnam War.

Sources: USS Vestal War Diary, June, August, & November 1943; NavSource OnlineWikipedia

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Repairs and modifications to USS Denver

On today's date in 1943 at Espiritu Santo, divers from Dad's repair ship, Vestal, began an underwater inspection of the light cruiser USS Denver. Vestal will conduct minor repairs and modifications to the ship until the 22nd.

Launched in April 1942, Denver sailed to the New Hebrides in February 1943. She saw her first of many combat encounters in the bombardment of Kolombangara in the Solomons in March. During this engagement, the task force sank 2 Japanese destroyers.

Continuing her operations in the Solomons, Denver participated the bombardment of Ballale Island in late June, in connection with the invasion of New Georgia that lasted through early August. During the bombardment of Munda on July 11-12, the ship suffered some damage resulting from its own gunfire, compromising the watertight integrity of its main deck. While Denver's own crew repaired the damage, this was likely part of Vestal's inspection and repair that began on today's date.

Early in November, Denver's task force fought to intercept an enemy force contesting the Allied landings on Bougainville in Papua New Guinea. In that battle American ships sank an enemy light cruiser and a destroyer, as well as damaging 2 heavy cruisers and 2 destroyers. During the fight, Denver was hit by 3 enemy shells, which, fortunately, did not explode. She shared in the Navy Unit Commendation for outstanding performance in this battle.

Denver next covered the landings on Cape Torokina on Bougainville in November, and during a heavy air attack, she was torpedoed, knocking out all power and communications and killing 20 of her crew. She was towed back to Espiritu Santo for temporary repairs, then sailed to Mare Island on the West Coast for overhaul.

Denver returned to service at Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands in June 1944. She screened carriers as they launched strikes against Japanese bases during the invasion of the Marianas Islands. She bombarded Iwo Jima in July, and then returned to Eniwetok in August.

In September, Denver sailed for the invasion of the Micronesian island of Palau. There she bombarded Anguar Island, then covered a task unit engaged in minesweeping, reconnaissance, and underwater demolition operations before the landings on Ulithi in late September. In October, Denver supported the landings on Leyte, bombarding islands there to open the invasion fleet's way into Leyte Gulf. That same month Denver's task force saw action in Surigao Strait while preventing the Japanese Southern Force from passing into Leyte Gulf. The attack resulted in the sinking of the flagship Yamashiro. The battleship's admiral, captain, and about 1,600 officers and crew were lost when the ship sunk. The cruiser Mogami was also sunk by American aircraft with a loss of 192 crewmen. After this action, Denver sailed on to finish off crippled enemy ships, aiding in sinking the destroyer Asagumo, which lost 191 of her crew.

Denver continued service in Leyte Gulf through the end of that year. During another October attack, she was damaged by a bomb released from one of the planes she shot down. In November, the cruiser screened reinforcement landings and fought off a kamikaze attack, suffering 4 men wounded from bomb fragments. In December, Denver provided cover for the Philippine landing on Mindoro. She covered other landings in the Philippines through the early months of 1945. From July through August, Denver participated in anti-shipping sweeps off the China coast. With Japan's surrender, the cruiser covered the evacuation of the Allied servicemen rescued from prison camps and covered the landing of occupation troops in Japan.

In November, Denver arrived home on the East Coast. After an overhaul, she served to train men of the Naval Reserve. In April 1946, she was placed out of commission and remained in reserve until February 1947. In 1960, this heroic ship was sold for scrap.

In addition to the Navy Unit Commendation, USS Denver received 11 Battle Stars for her WWII service.

Sources: War Diaries for USS Vestal & Denver, August 1944; USS Denver Action Report of August 11-12, 1943 NavSource Online; Wikipedia

Thursday, August 15, 2013

On the reading of good books

Life being very short, and the quiet hours of it few, we ought to waste none of them in reading valueless books.
John Ruskin

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.
Mark Twain

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The need to read

The majority, though they are sometimes frequent readers, do not set much store by reading. They turn to it as a last resource. They abandon it with alacrity as soon as any alternative pastime turns up. It is kept for railway journeys, illnesses, odd moments of enforced solitude, or for the process called reading oneself to sleep. They sometimes combine it with desultory conversation; often, with listening to the radio. But literary people are always looking for leisure and silence in which to read and do so with their whole attention. When they are denied such attentive and undisturbed reading even for a few days they feel impoverished.

C. S. Lewis

Monday, August 12, 2013

Battle damage repairs to the SS Matthew Lyon

On today's date in 1943, Dad's repair ship, Vestal, began an underwater inspection of the cargo ship, Matthew Lyon, for torpedo damage received earlier that day. It will continue to repair the ship until mid-September. No doubt, there was a significant amount of welding work, for which Dad was well qualified.

Launched in April 1943 under a Maritime Commission contract, SS Matthew Lyon, first saw duty under a civilian contractor during the summer. On today's date, while voyaging to Espiritu Santo, she received severe damage from a torpedo fired by a Japanese submarine. Despite a gaping hole in her port side the freighter limped into Espiritu Santo, apparently headed for scrapping. But over the next several weeks, crews from Vestal were able to repair her sufficiently for a move to nearby Pallikulo Bay on Espiritu Santo Island, where she languished for several months.

In October 1943, Matthew Lyon's value was finally recognized, and she was taken over by the Navy and pressed into emergency service as the net cargo ship, renamed Zebra. So successful was she in her new role of installing nets, that in February 1944, the Navy decided to completely repair her and officially recommission her as a net cargo ship. Returned to drydock at Espiritu Santo for overhaul, it was discovered that the ship needed reconstruction of an entire hold. During the same time, Zebra was reconfigured to accommodate a much larger crew. In June, she was finally assigned her first duty as a Navy net cargo ship.

USS Zebra in drydock at Espiritu Santo, February 1944
Source: NavSource Online

Zebra conducted operations from New Caledonia to the Fiji Islands. She completed a circuit of various South Pacific islands to collect nets and equipment salvaged from the harbor defense installations and delivered cargo to the Ellice Islands later that fall. By the end of 1944, Zebra conducted net-laying missions around ships and in harbors in the Palau Islands. From October through November 1944, Zebra, along with 2 other ships, laid 10 miles of net to protect ships in the harbor on the Ulithi atoll in the Caroline Islands. Dad will be one of the beneficiaries of Zebra's work, when he is stationed for several months at Ulithi on the repair ship Hector, beginning November 1944.

Ulithi Harbor: One of the most powerful naval fleets ever assembled.
Source: Historic Wings

After repairs and further modifications at Pearl Harbor at the end of 1944 through January 1945, Zebra participated in the assault and occupation of Iwo Jima, arriving there in February and staying until April. She then left for the West Coast to complete her conversion to a net cargo ship. Zebra had barely been returned to service when Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945. Her final assignment was in the Western Pacific to collect salvaged net equipment. Stopping at Saipan in November 1945, Zebra received passengers and equipment, then made her return to the United States.

Her 3 years of war service now at an end, Zebra was decommissioned in January 1946 and returned to the War Shipping Administration. She was finally scrapped in 1972. USS Zebra was awarded 1 Battle Star for her WWII service.

Sources: USS Vestal War Diary, August & September 1944; "War History of the USS Zebra (AKN-5), U.S. Pacific Fleet, September 26, 1945"; Wikipedia

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Work on the subchaser PC-477

For 3 days beginning on this date in 1943, Dad's ship, Vestal, worked on the submarine chaser PC-477* for a third time this year. Since the work involved engine repair, it's doubtful that Dad, a metalsmith, did any of the actual labor. However, ship engine repair was just one of the myriad jobs that a repair ship like Vestal was equipped to perform.

Launched January 1942, 173-foot PC-477, like other Patrol Costal ships (PCs) in its class, was designed primarily for anti-submarine warfare, but it also performed convoy escort duty and coastal patrol, thereby freeing up destroyers for other duty. PCs were armed with a 3-inch gun, a 40 mm and three 20 mm machine guns, depth charge tracks, depth charge projectors, and rocket launchers. They were operated by a 65-man crew.

Most of the PCs were assigned either to patrol the East Coast or serve further east in the war against Germany. But many were also deployed to the Pacific Theater, mainly for submarine patrol duty. Several operated out of Espiritu Santo where Dad was stationed. In fact, crews from his ship did repair and installation work on several PCs while Dad was there.

The USS PC-477 was the first subchaser to participate in the Solomons Campaign. On December 7, 1942, off Guadalcanal, PC-477 witnessed a torpedo hitting the USS Alchiba.** Tracking the enemy submarine that fired it, PC-477 fired depth charges on the 2-man mini-sub, forcing it to the surface. While the PC-477 was attempting to capture the disabled sub, an American plane dropped 2 bombs and sank it. PC-477 and the aircraft shared the joint kill.

Having served gallantly through the war, the USS PC-477 was decommissioned in 1946, and like most of the PCs built for the war, she was sold for scrap. Of the more than 350 PCs commissioned during the war, none survive today in the United States. Sadly, the daring exploits of the PCs and the 50,000 brave men who served on them have been largely forgotten. But the significant role this "forgotten fleet" played in winning the war is without question.

PC-477 fueling at sea, May 1942
Source: WWII Archives

* Earlier work was performed in January (routine repairs) & May (radar installation)

** Alchiba was first torpedoed by a mini-sub on November 28. While she was undergoing temporary repairs, on December 8, she was hit a second time by a torpedo launched from a mini-sub. The Vestal performed Alchiba's repairs from this damageSee an earlier blog for more information.

Sources: USS Vestal & USS PC-477 War Diaries, August 1944; Patrol Craft of World War II, William. J. Veigele; Patrol Craft Sailor Association; NavSource Photo Archives

Friday, August 9, 2013

Reading great literature

Literary experience heals the wound, without undermining the privilege, of individuality. There are mass emotions which heal the wound; but they destroy the privilege. In them our separate selves are pooled and we sink back into sub-individuality. But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like a night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.

C. S. Lewis

Designated as Salvage Diver

On this date in 1943, my dad, Frank Dolan, a Metalsmith, First Class (M1c), qualified and was designated as Salvage Diver on the repair ship, USS Vestal.

Source: Frank L Dolan's Service Records

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Great eBooks of the Western World

Several years ago I was able to purchase an entire set of the Great Books of the Western World. This 65-volume compilation is one of the most acclaimed publishing feats of the 20th century. Mortimer Adler and his editorial staff gathered the essential core of the Western literary canon517 of the most significant achievements in literature, history, philosophy, and scienceinto one enormous set. I don't know anyone personally who has read everything in this series, but I know many of us who are trying!

Alas, a couple of years back, circumstances compelled me to sell my collection (at bargain basement prices). But now, thanks to the work of a kind soul, most of the 517 titles have been collected in free eBook format in a single location. True, most of these titles are available at several websites like Project Gutenberg, Internet Archiveebooks@adelaide, and Amazon's Kindle Store. But this site claims it provides the fullest free eBook list of Mortimer Adler’s Great Books on the web. It's worth a look:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Jesus and Mohammed

A thought on this last day of Ramadan...

Jesus Christ was foretold, Mohammed was not. Mohammed slew, but Jesus caused his followers to be slain. Mohammed forbade reading, but the apostles commanded it. In short, the difference between them is so great that if Mohammed followed the path of success, humanly speaking, Jesus followed that of death, humanly speaking. Instead of assuming that where Mohammed succeeded, Jesus could not have done so, we must rather say that since Mohammed succeeded, Jesus had to die. 

From Pensées, Blaise Pascal (1623-1666)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Cicero on Books

Books are the food of youth; the delight of old age; the ornament of prosperity; the refuge and comfort of adversity; a delight at home; no hindrance abroad; companions at night, in traveling, in the country. Indeed, no wise man ought ever be found apart from their company.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Repairs to battle-damaged Celeno

On today's date in 1943, Dad's ship, Vestal, began repairs to the main shaft and steering gear of the Navy cargo ship, USS Celeno, caused by damage received during an attack at Guadalcanal. Vestal's crews will work on the Celeno for the next 8 days.

Launched in December 1942, the USS Celeno saw distinguished service throughout WWII. Commissioned in January 1943, the freighter was assigned to the Pacific Fleet, with cargo bound for Nouméa, New Caledonia. Celeno arrived in early February to support the operations on Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands.

On June 16, while offloading its cargo on Lunga Point on Guadalcanal, the ship was attacked by Japanese bombers. Equipped with antiaircraft guns, Celeno fought back, scoring 3 downed enemy planes. But its success came at a cost. One bomb hit her stern, knocking out her rear gun and jamming her rudder. A second direct hit set 2 of her holds on fire, while another bomb set her deck cargo ablaze, which was loaded with fuel oil. With her rudder jammed, the stricken ship was only able to circle while the men fought to save her. Her crew somehow managed to beach the ship, saving her from sinking. Sadly, 15 of her crewmen were killed and 19 others wounded in the attack. Over the next week under constant threat of attack and unable to defend herself, the crew had to abandon ship several times. Finally on the 24th, Celeno was towed to Port Purvis on Florida Island for temporary repairs and offloading of its remaining cargo so that it could be towed in late August to Espiritu Santo for major work.

At Espiritu Santo, Vestal's crew attempted to repair the damage, particularly that to Celeno's ruined steering. Most of the work was done while in the floating drydock, YFD-21, which itself was undergoing repairs by the Vestal. Completing temporary repairs to Celeno by August 11, the damaged ship was readied for towing to San Francisco in September.

Following refitting, Celeno was returned to the South Pacific in January 1944, to continue supporting the Allies in the Solomons Campaign. As the seizure of bases in the Admiralty Islands began in the spring of 1944, Celeno carried troops and cargo. She continued to operate throughout the Solomons, Bismarks, and Marianas. Celeno next sailed to Australia and New Zealand, then made a cargo run to newly secured Iwo Jima. Returning to Nouméa, Celeno provided support for the Okinawa Campaign in June 1944, before resuming cargo operations throughout the South Pacific.

After Japan's surrender, Celeno carried troops to Iwo Jima for transportation to Saipan, where she picked up victorious servicemen returning to the West Coast.

Celeno was decommissioned in March 1946, and transferred to the Maritime Commission. For her WWII service the USS Celeno earned 3 Battle Stars.

USS Celeno while being overhauled at Mare Island, November 1943
Source: NavSource Online

Sources: USS Vestal and USS Celeno War Diaries for June 1943; Wikipedia

Friday, August 2, 2013

"His Books" by Robert Southey

Robert Southey (1774-1843)
My days among the Dead are past
Around me I behold,
Where'er these casual eyes are cast,
The mighty minds of old:
My never-failing friends are they,
With whom I converse day by day.
With them I take delight in weal,
And seek relief in woe;
And while I understand and feel
How much to them I owe,
My cheeks have often been bedew'd
With tears of thoughtful gratitude.
My thoughts are with the Dead; with them
I live in long-past years,
Their virtues love, their faults condemn,
Partake their hopes and fears;
And from their lessons seek and find
Instruction with an humble mind.

My hopes are with the Dead; anon
My place with them will be,
And I with them shall travel on
Through all Futurity;
Yet leaving here a name, I trust,
That will not perish in the dust.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Reading & Writers

Distrust a course of reading! People who really care for books read all of them. There is no other course.
Andrew Lang (Adventures Among Books)

Those of us who have been true readers all our life seldom fully realize the enormous extension of our being which we owe to authors. We realize it best when we talk with an unliterary friend. He may be full of goodness and good sense but he inhabits a tiny world. In it, we should be suffocated. The man who is contented to be only himself, is in a prison. My own eyes are not enough for me. I will see through those of others.
C. S. Lewis (An Experiment in Criticism)

There is a great deal of difference between the eager man who wants to read a book and the tired man who wants a book to read. A man reading a Le Quex mystery wants to get to the end of it. A man reading the Dickens novel wished that it might never end.
G.K. Chesterton (Charles Dickens: A Critical Study)