"It was queer, really. Even at the time it struck me as queer. I was a second-loot with hardly any Cockney accent left, I could already distinguish between Arnold Bennett and Elinor Glyn, and yet it was only four years since I’d been slicing cheese behind the counter in my white apron and looking forward to the days when I’d be a master-grocer. If I tot up the account, I suppose I must admit that the war did me good as well as harm. At any rate that year of reading novels was the only real education, in the sense of book-learning, that I’ve ever had. It did certain things to my mind. It gave me an attitude, a kind of questioning attitude, which I probably wouldn’t have had if I’d gone through life in a normal sensible way. But — I wonder if you can understand this — the thing that really changed me, really made an impression on me, wasn’t so much the books I read as the rotten meaninglessness of the life I was leading."
George Orwell, Coming Up for Air (1939)