Reading might not seem like the most dramatic of subjects—Seinfeld fans will recall the episode in which George appalled the president of NBC by saying in a pitch meeting that he wanted to make a show in which people might just sit and read.

But images in the LIFE photo collection tell another story. Over the years the magazine’s photographers created many fascinating and resonant images of people lost in words. And those photos, viewed collectively, illustrate both the power and the great diversity of the reading experience.

For example, images here include:

—A soldier in a fox hole, savoring a letter from home.

Sophia Loren perusing a newspaper while waiting on a movie set.

—The teenage son of the artist Christo passing the time with a book while his father erected one of his sculptures.

—Hockey great Jean Beliveau relaxing in bed with a novel.

—College girls at the University of Kansas reading their mail while sitting on their sorority house steps.

Thomas Mann, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, reading in his armchair.

—Jackie Kennedy, First Lady and future book editor—reading to daughter Caroline in her bed.

And on and on. One particularly poignant photo shows baseball star Roy Campanella a few months removed from the car accident that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. LIFE’s story on Campanella’s rehabilitation in the July 21, 1958 issue opened with a photo of the former Dodgers catcher hovering horizontally, face down, in a specially designed bed and studying a newspaper sports section spread out beneath him.

The benefits of reading are numerous: Experts believe that it strengthens your brain, reduces stress, improves empathy, helps you sleep better and staves off cognitive decline. That photo of Campanella makes evident another benefit, and underlines a common theme through so many of these images. Whether you are reading a letter, the newspaper or a great novel, you can be taken out of where you are and connect with another person, or even another world, all through the power of the written word.

Baseball star Roy Campanella, who suffered a broken neck in a car accident, reading a newspaper, 1958.

George Silk/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Marilyn Monroe at home, 1953.

Marilyn Monroe at home, 1953.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Jackie Kennedy reads to her daughter, Caroline, in Hyannis Port, Mass., in 1960.

Jackie Kennedy read to her daughter, Caroline, in Hyannis Port, Mass., in 1960.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Jennie Magill reading a story to her children.

Jennie Magill reading a story to her children; the image is from a 1956 LIFE story on working mothers.

Grey Villet The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Wilson Riles, California State Superintendent of Public Education, read a storybook to his grandson, 1971.

Ralph Crane/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Tent-dwelling hippie family reading bedtime stories. (Photo by John Olson/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

A tent-dwelling family at an Oregon read bedtime stories, 1969.

Photo by John Olson/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Indian leader Mohandas Gandhi reading next to a spinning wheel at home. (Photo by Margaret Bourke-White/The LIFE Picture Collection © DotDash Meredith)

Indian leader Mohandas Gandhi reading next to a spinning wheel at home. (Photo by Margaret Bourke-White/The LIFE Picture Collection © DotDash Meredith)

Hockey great Jean Beliveau, the center for the Montreal Canadiens, 1953.

Yale Joel/LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Babysitter Iva Peppe was engrossed in reading a magazine while Chad Gibson set up for a sneak attack, Des Moines, Iowa, 1957.

Leonard McCombe/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Reading the comics, Detroit, 1943.

Walter Sanders/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Boys shopped for comic books, Des Moines, Iowa, 1945.

Nina Leen/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Students in the library reading room at Howard University, 1946.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

A student sits in a crowded library on the campus of Smith College, Northampton, Mass., 1948.

Peter Stackpole/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Cowboy Clarence H. Long from the iconic 1949 LIFE magazine cover.

Beside his chuck wagon, cowboy Clarence Long read a western magazine, 1949. When he was through with the magazine he passed it to another cowboy. Such magazines were read and reread until the pages fell apart.

Leonard McCombe The LIFE Images Collection/Shutterstock

Marilyn Lovell, wife of Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell, reads a newspaper at home, April 1970.

Marilyn Lovell, wife of Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell, read a newspaper at home, April 1970.

Bill Eppridge The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Michael Caine reads a paper, and an article about himself, in Los Angeles in 1966.

Michael Caine read an article about himself, Los Angeles, 1966.

Bill Ray The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Charles M. Schulz, creator of Peanuts, at his California home, 1967.

Bill Ray/ Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Actor George C. Scott on set of the 1959 film Anatomy of a Murder. In the movie he played prosecutor Claude Dancer.

Gjon Mili/LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

A boy read newspaper comics while his leash-tethered mutt waited, New York City, 1944.

Nina Leen/LIFE Pictures/Shutterstock

Sportscaster Bill Stern read a newspaper as his Chesapeake Bay retriever sniffed a sidewalk grate, New York City, 1944.

Nina Leen/LIFE Pictures/Shutterstock

Aspiring actress Jo Ann Kemmerling read a book in the small tub that was set up in the kitchen of her small New York City apartment, 1953.

Nina Leen/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

The son of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Cyril Christo, read a book during the construction work on “5,600 Cubic Meter Package,” for Documenta IV in Germany, 1968.

Photo by Carlo Bavagnoli/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation.

The children of architect Nathaniel Curtis enjoyed the home he designed: Cathy (left) read on the patio while Francis (center) and David (right) played a game in the living room, New Orleans, 1965.

John Dominis/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

William Gerberding, a U.C.L.A. assistant professor of political science, read while waiting for the bus, 1964.

Bill Ray/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Soldier smiling while reading mail in a fox hole, 1945.

Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

A solider read a letter at the U.S. naval base on Midway Atoll, 1942.

Frank Scherschel/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

A sailor relaxed aboard a US Navy cruiser at sea read a copy of Life magazine, 1942.

Ralph Morse/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

German POWs read on their cots inside one of the prisoner of war barracks at Camp Blanding in Tallahassee, Florida, June 1943

Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Former Japanese war minister Hideki Tojo read in the yard of the Omira prison where he was being held for war crimes, Nov. 1945.

George Silk/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Men talking and reading the newspaper in the local market, Maine, United States, 1942

Bernard Hoffman/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Actress Greer Garson read while relaxing in a hammock near her pool at her Hollywood home, 1943.

Peter Stackpole/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

New York City, 1943.

Ralph Morse/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

People reading newspapers with the headlines of the D-Day invasion at the Pershing Square Park, Los Angeles, June 6, 1944.

John Florea/Life Picture Collecrtion/Shutterstock

Woman relaxing on sofa, Phoenix, Az., September 1952.

Nina Leen/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

A teenage babysitter read to the boys she was watching, St. Louis, 1944.

Nina Leen/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

A photo from an essay illustrating Richard Wright’s memoir Black Boy, 1945; to escape the wrath of his grandmother, Wright used to sit behind the barn to read.

Ed Clark/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

A father read his daughter the Sunday comics, United States, August 1946.

Nina Leen?Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Department store magnate Bernard F. Gimbel reading his competitor’s advertising, under picture of his wife painted by De Guttman, 1949.

Eliot Elisofon/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

A barber in a small New England village, 1950.

Yale Joel/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Young polio patients read letters from home while gathered around mailroom desk during mail call at FDR’s Georgia Warm Springs Foundation where they were receiving intensive treatment while being boarded there, November 1938..

Margaret Bourke-White/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Women reading books and newspapers, Atlantic City, N.J., 1941.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Students read and relaxed at the ATO house at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., 1940.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

At the University of Kansas, Kappa Alpha Theta sorority members read letters and newspapers,1939.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Jill Corey’s father, a coal miner in Avonmore, Pa., eagerly reading the first letter home from daughter, who had moved to New York to become a professional singer, 1953.

Gordon Parks/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

A high school girl at the Newburyport Free Library in Massachusetts, 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Fire Chief Bob Harmon of Hamilton, Ohio reading the newspaper at home while listening to the radio, from the LIFE essay “An American Block” about home life during wartime, 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Children reading the comics, Hamilton, Ohio, October 1943.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Actress Sophia Loren read a newspaper by candlelight while in costume for her role in movie Madame Sans-Gene, 1961.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

On a Sunday afternoon in Emporia, Kansas, Sante Fe Railroad timekeeper John Tholen, 52, read newspaper with his wife and two sons, who are Kansas National Guardsmen, on their front porch, 1942.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Hair salon, New York City, 1952.

Nina Leen/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Dutch billiards prodigy Renske Quax (left) read comic books with his sister, Holland, 1953.

Nat Farbman/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Frenchmen reading newspaper reports of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, 1963.

Ralph Crane/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Out on Hampstead Heath in London, British author Colin Wilson sat underneath a tree wrapped in a sleeping bag, reading a book, 1956.

Mark Kauffman/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

At Cumberland Mountain Farms in Scottsboro, Alabama, barefoot young boys sat outside on chairs made from tree sections and read during school, 1936. Cumberland Mountain Farms, like nearby Skyline Farms, was a government-sponsored resettlement project designed to help out-of-work farmers and their families.

Carl Mydans/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Novelist Thomas Mann at home, circa 1939.

Carl Mydans/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Comedian and actress Phyllis Diller read a copy of Vogue magazine, St. Louis, April 1963.

Francis Miller/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Visitors to TIME’s Reading Room at the Chicago World’s Fair, 1933.

Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Navy crewmen on a submarine, 1939.

Carl Mydans/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

A boy read a comic strip while getting a haircut in Garden City, New York in 1942

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Robert Kennedy, then the U.S. attorney general, read a book while walking with his three dogs, 1964.

George Silk/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Warship, 1943.

Ralph Morse/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Anchorage, Alaska, 1958.

Dmitri Kessel/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Author Hoffman Reynolds Hays read among the shelves, New York City, New York, 1944

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

New York Public Library, 1944.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

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