From the Christian Science Monitor, reprint of a book review from December of 2001. The book by Nicholas Basbanes, is 'Patience & Fortitude' a grand, rambling, serendipitous treasure-house of material about books and the people who have loved them.
This story is told of the Italian humanist Niccolo Machiavelli: "Dismissed from high office, stripped of all his honors, and forced to leave his beloved city of Florence for the primitive countryside, he found solace in his books: “When evening comes, I return home and enter my study; on the threshold I take off my workday clothes, covered with mud and dirt, and put on the garments of court and palace.
“Fitted out appropriately, I step inside the venerable courts of the ancients, where … I am unashamed to converse with them and to question them about the motives for their actions, and they, out of human kindness, answer me. And for four hours at a time I feel no boredom, I forget all my troubles, I do not dread poverty, and I am not terrified by death. I absorb myself unto them completely."