The Quote Garden ™
“I dig old books.” ™
Books & Reading
Welcome to my collection of quotes about books and reading! SEE ALSO:
Nose in Books,
Reading in Bed,
Smell of Books Enjoy! —ღ Terri
Every man likes to be his own librarian... ~Thomas Frognall Dibdin, "Bibliographiana," The Director: A Weekly Literary Journal, 1807 April 11th
I decided there's two types of people in the world — people who are meant to live their life to the fullest, and people who are meant to read about those people. I'm the latter. ~The Middle, "Hecks on a Train," written by Tim Hobert [S6, E12, Brick Heck]
As for Flaubert, Madame Bovary is one of the few novels that moves me in every way, not only in its style, but in its total communicability, like the effect of good poetry. What I really mean is that a great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it. Its writer should, too. ~William Styron, interview with Peter Matthiessen and George Plimpton, in Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, edited by Malcolm Cowley, 1958
Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book. ~Author unknown
I fancy that at the beginning some fairy may have offered me the choice between great power and station and the privilege of living always among books, and that I, like the good child in the fairy tale, chose the latter. ~James L. Whitney, "Reminiscences of an Old Librarian," November 1909 [Whitney credits the idea for his statement to Andrew Lang's "Ballade of the Bookworm." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
Destroying a book is like destroying a whole world. ~Bruce Zimmerman, Criminal Minds, "Surface Tension" [S12, E11, 2017, Diana Reid]
It's just got me kind of wild, being turned loose amongst so many books. ~Cid Ricketts Sumner, Tammy Out of Time, 1958
My books—a ragged lot are they...
And yet to me each dingy book
Appeals with such a friendly look...
My Goldsmith's muslin coat is torn;
My Boswell I have clothed in cotton;
Old Samuel's leathern suit is rotten;
Macaulay's page is marked with grime
Beyond my power to tell in rhyme...
I've read Sir Walter to the core,—
His volumes now are somewhat tattered;
My poets all—Burns, Byron, Keats,
Poe, Coleridge—I have sucked their sweets,
And left the calyx somewhat shattered...
~T.J. Chapman, "My Books," c.1889
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 Queux mystery wants to get to the end of it. A man reading the Dickens novel wished that it might never end. ~G.K. Chesterton, "The Great Popularity," Charles Dickens: A Critical Study, 1906
Writing to me is an advanced and slow form of reading. If you find a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it. ~Toni Morrison, quoted in Ellen Brown, "Writing Is Third Career For Morrison," The Cincinnati Enquirer, 1981 September 27th
Old Books are best!...
What though the prints be not so bright,
The paper dark, the binding slight?
Our author, be he dull or sage,
Returning from a distant age
So lives again. We say of right:
Old Books are best.
~Beverly Chew, "Old Books Are Best," 1886
In the matter of books, as in the world, I believe in old friends... I must confess a lurking fondness for those good old-fashioned stories which were current forty years ago, — and some of them maybe a hundred years ago... I have sought to keep alive a regard for those old-new books... ~Donald G. Mitchell, About Old Story-Tellers, 1878
I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go into the library and read a good book. ~Groucho Marx, see quoteinvestigator.com/2014/01/18/groucho-tv
[I]t is pleasanter to eat one's own peas out of one's own garden, than to buy them by the peck at Covent Garden; and a book reads the better, which is our own, and has been so long known to us, that we know the topography of its blots and dog's-ears, and can trace the dirt in it to having read it at tea with buttered muffins, or over a pipe.... ~Charles Lamb, letter to S.T. Coleridge, 11 October 1802
A writer only begins a book, it is the reader who completes it; for the reader takes up where the writer left off as new thoughts stir within him. ~David Harris Russell (1906–1965), Children Learn to Read, 1949
The searching spirit... at wisdom's shrine,
Will draw pure draughts from her unfathomed well,
And nurse the never-dying lamp, that burns
Brighter and brighter on, as ages roll...
For there is in the company of books,
The living souls of the departed sage,
And bard, and hero; there is in the roll
Of eloquence and history, which speak
The deeds of early and of better days...
~James G. Percival, "Love of Study," c.1822
...the strongest friends of the soul – BOOKS... ~Emily Dickinson
The man who doesn't read has no advantage over the man who can't read. ~Author unknown
Reading and writing are as necessary to him as eating and drinking, and he hopes he will never lack for books. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), "Concerning a Person of My Acquaintance" [Writing of himself. An unfinished work. Translated by Norman Alliston, 1908. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
There's nothing to match curling up with a good book when there's a repair job to be done around the house. ~Joe Ryan, as quoted in The Reader's Digest, 1978
In my garden I spend my days; in my library I spend my nights. My interests are divided between my geraniums and my books. With the flower I am in the present; with the book I am in the past. I go into my library, and all history unrolls before me. I breathe the morning air of the world while the scent of Eden's roses yet lingered in it.... ~Alexander Smith, "Books and Gardens," Dreamthorp: A Book of Essays Written in the Country, 1863
...books let us into their souls and lay open to us the secrets of our own. ~William Hazlitt (1778–1830), "The Sick Chamber," 1830
A book is very like a money-changer: it pays you back in another form what you bring to it. ~Austin O'Malley (1858–1932), Thoughts of a Recluse, 1898
A dirty book is rarely dusty. ~Author unknown
What a silence in those old books as of a half-peopled world—what bleating of flocks—what green pastoral rest—what indubitable human existence!... O men and women, so far separated yet so near, so strange yet so well-known, by what miraculous power do I know ye all! Books are the true Elysian fields where the spirits of the dead converse, and into these fields a mortal may venture unappalled. What king's court can boast such company? What school of philosophy such wisdom?... Seated in my library at night, and looking on the silent faces of my books, I am occasionally visited by a strange sense of the supernatural. They are not collections of printed pages, they are ghosts. I take one down and it speaks with me in a tongue not now heard on earth, and of men and things of which it alone possesses knowledge. I call myself a solitary, but sometimes I think I misapply the term. No man sees more company than I do. ~Alexander Smith, "Books and Gardens," Dreamthorp: A Book of Essays Written in the Country, 1863
Midnight in the bookstore—
where all the unsold books
are telling stories.
~Dr. SunWolf, professorsunwolf.com
Around the narrow circuit of the room
Breast-high the books I love range file on file;
And when, day-weary, I would rest awhile,
As once again slow falls the gathering gloom
Upon the world, I love to pass my hand
Along their serried ranks, and silent stand
In breathless heark'ning to their silent speech.
With rev'rent hand I touch the back of each
Of these my books. How much of their dear selves—
The hand that held the pen, the brain that wrought
The subtle fancies on these pages caught—
Have men immortal left upon my shelves!
~Charles Washington Coleman (1862–1932), "Of My Books," c.1893
"Sleep is good," he said. "And books are better." ~George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings, 1999 [Tyrion Lannister –tg]
"Lord!" he said, "when you sell a man a book you don't sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue — you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night — there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book I mean..." ~Christopher Morley, Parnassus on Wheels, 1917
Errata.— Deathbed confessions of a book. ~"Specimens of a Patent Pocket Dictionary, For the use of those who wish to understand the meaning of things as well as words," The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, 1824
In the attic Christie was discovered lying dressed upon her bed, asleep or suffocated by the smoke that filled the room. A book had slipped from her hand, and in falling had upset the candle on a chair beside her.... "I forbade her to keep the gas lighted so late, and see what the deceitful creature has done with her private candle!" cried Mrs. Stuart.... "Look at her!... She has been at the wine, or lost her wits.... She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain." ~Louisa May Alcott, "Servant," Work: A Story of Experience, 1873
We talked books. We just simply enumerated books without end, praising or damning them, and arranged authors in neat pews.... No pastime is more agreeable to people who have the book disease, and none more quickly fleets the hours, and none is more delightfully futile. ~Arnold Bennett (1867–1931)
Sometimes, looking at the many books I have at home, I feel I shall die before I come to the end of them, yet I cannot resist the temptation of buying new books. Whenever I walk into a bookstore and find a book on one of my hobbies... I say to myself, "What a pity I can't buy that book, for I already have a copy at home." ~Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986), "The Riddle of Poetry," This Craft of Verse, edited by Călin-Andrei Mihăilescu, 2000
There is no thief worse than a bad book. ~Italian proverb
People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading. ~Logan Pearsall Smith, Trivia, 1917
Many, many books. It is likely I will die next to a pile of things I was meaning to read. ~Lemony Snicket, when asked "Are there any books you wish you had read, but never got the chance?" during a live Facebook chat hosted by Scholastic Reading Club, 2013 January 16th [During this chat we also learn that his favorite kinds of tea are Darjeeling in the morning, green in the afternoon, and mint in the evening. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
Wilde strikes an evangel note. It is a note that lifts itself through sorrow and slavery to joy and freedom. Puts seed in the ground. Into you. When a book stops doing that it is dead. No matter how pretty it may be as a corpse it is dead. ~Horace Traubel (1858–1919), review of Oscar Wilde's The Soul of Man under Socialism, in The Conservator, May 1905
We live in an age of science and of abundance. The care and reverence for books as such, proper to an age when no book was duplicated until someone took the pains to copy it out by hand, is obviously no longer suited to 'the needs of society', or to the conservation of learning. The weeder is supremely needed if the Garden of the Muses is to persist as a garden. ~Ezra Pound, Chapter One, ABC of Reading, 1934
Have you blossoms and books, those solaces of sorrow? ~Emily Dickinson, 1885
I'm old-fashioned and think that reading books is the most glorious pastime that humankind has yet devised. ~Wisława Szymborska (1923–2012), Nonrequired Reading: Prose Pieces, "From the Author," translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh, 2002
The moment when one meets a book and knows, beyond shadow of doubt, that that book must be his — not necessarily now, but some time — is among the happiest excitements of the spirit... There is no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It is like falling in love, and like that colossal adventure it is an experience of great social import... It is a jealous passion also. He feels a little indignant if he finds that any one else has discovered the book, too. ~Christopher Morley, "On Visiting Bookshops"
Somewhere at a summer conference, I dropped several books casually on the ground and kicked them out of the way. A German student picked up the books, dusted them off gently. He said how he had worked for years to buy a few books. A book was his blood, and he bled when he saw it mishandled. ~Max Lerner, 1953
The man that I named the Giver passed along to the boy knowledge, history, memories, color, pain, laughter, love, and truth. Every time you place a book in the hands of a child, you do the same thing. It is very risky. But each time a child opens a book, he pushes open the gate that separates him from Elsewhere. It gives him choices. It gives him freedom. Those are magnificent, wonderfully unsafe things. ~Lois Lowry (b.1937), Newberry Medal acceptance speech, 1994
How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book. ~Henry David Thoreau
All books are self-help books. ~Frank Arricale, The Power of Balance, 2009
A Book, though mainly as the Writer makes it,
Is also largely as the Reader takes it.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Books," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924
The intellect is a diœcious plant, and books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind. ~James Russell Lowell (1819–1891), "Nationality in Literature"
This will never be a civilized country until we expend more money for books than we do for chewing gum. ~Elbert Hubbard, in The Philistine, 1907
Christie loved books... This amusement lightened many heavy hours, peopled the silent house with troops of friends, and, for a time, was the joy of her life. ~Louisa May Alcott, "Servant," Work: A Story of Experience, 1873
There is no friend as loyal as a book. ~Ernest Hemingway, as quoted in A. E. Hotchner, The Good Life According To Hemingway, 2008
Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life. ~Mark Twain, 1898
Perdu reflected that it was a common misconception that booksellers looked after books. They look after people. ~Nina George, The Little Paris Bookshop, 2013, translated by Simon Pare, 2015
I remember childhood as a wonderfully sunny and happy time, free of all shadows and insecurity. One of the happiest of memories is that of bringing armfuls of books home from the library and reading them in an old, stuffed, lumpy chair in the attic. ~Ethel Pochocki (1925–2010), quoted in Something about the Author, Volume 76, edited by Diane Telgen, 1994
To read means to borrow; to create out of one's readings is paying off one's debts. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), translated by Henry Hatfield and Franz H. Mautner, in The Lichtenberg Reader, 1959
...when you reread a classic you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than there was before. A lesser book on rereading often reveals new subtleties. A great one is more like an instrument of self-discovery. ~Clifton Fadiman, "War and Peace, Fifteen Years After," Any Number Can Play, 1957
Classics are not classics because hoary with age — they are the steel balls which have worn down mountains but remained unchanged in the mill of time. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)
I hear of many a "latest book";
I note what zealous readers say;
Through columns critical I look,
With their decisive "yea" and "nay"!
At times I own I'm half inclined
O'er some new masterpiece to pore;
Yet in the end I always find
I choose the book I've read before!
~Charles R. Ballard, "The Book I've Read Before," c.1890
A book that is shut is but a block. ~Proverb
What thrills have been mine as I stood perched on one leg like a stork, half way up a ladder, utterly oblivious of time and space, drinking in equal parts Jules Verne and the dust of the Central Library...! ~Robert Haven Schauffler, Foreword to Printed Joy, 1914
I just got out of the hospital. I was in a speed-reading accident. I hit a bookmark. ~Steven Wright, A Steven Wright Special, 1985, stevenwright.com
I find it necessary to confine my purchases strictly to books. My me! Yes, strictly to books. ~Munson Havens, Old Valentines: A Love Story, 1914 [Me too, Mr. Rowlandson, me too! And occasionally, groceries. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
There are more truths in a good book than its author meant to put into it. ~Marie Dubsky, Freifrau von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830–1916), translated by Mrs Annis Lee Wister, 1882
Books, — lighthouses erected in the great sea of time, — books, the precious depositories of the thoughts and creations of genius, — books, by whose sorcery times past become time present, and the whole pageantry of the world's history moves in solemn procession before our eyes; — these were to visit the firesides of the humble, and lavish the treasures of the intellect of the poor... From their pages the mighty souls of Plato, and Shakespeare, and Milton look out upon us in all their grandeur and beauty, undimmed by the faults and follies of earthly existence, consecrated by time. Precious and priceless are the blessings which books scatter around our daily paths. We walk, in imagination, with the noblest spirits... Without stirring from our firesides, we may roam to the most remote regions of the earth... Science, art, literature, philosophy, — all that man has thought, all that man has done, — the experience that has been bought with the sufferings of a hundred generations, — all are garnered up for us in the world of books... There our minds have a free range, our hearts a free utterance... ~Edwin P. Whipple, "Authors in their Relations to Life," lecture delivered before the Literary Societies of Brown University, 1846 September 1st [a little altered –tg]
Books are embalmed minds. ~C. Nestell Bovee
Books people solitude with shapes more glorious than ever glittered in palaces. Books send healing to the sick heart and energy to the wasted brain. ~Edwin P. Whipple, "Authors in their Relations to Life," delivered before the Literary Societies of Brown University, 1846 September 1st [a little altered –tg]
Set your pace to a stroll. Stop whenever you want. Interrupt, jump back and forth, I won't mind. This book should be as easy as laughter. It is stuffed with small things to take away. Please help yourself. ~Willis Goth Regier, In Praise of Flattery, 2007
The book-lover, so-called, who lacks any of the thrills that go with the establishment as well as the enjoyment of a library in all of its appointments has deprived himself of many of the most pleasurable literary and semi-literary emotions. His books are servants rather than companions. Look out for that man! He is not of us. ~Roswell Field [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people—people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book. ~E.B. White, letter to child patrons of the Troy Public Library (Michigan), 1971 April 14th, reply to request from children's librarian Marguerite Hart [full portfolio of letters at troypl.org —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books...
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
In the gradual growth of every student's library, he may or may not continue to admit literary friends and advisers; but he will be sure, sooner or later, to send for a man with a tool-chest. Sooner or later, every nook and corner will be filled with books, every window will be more or less darkened, and added shelves must be devised. He may find it hard to achieve just the arrangement he wants, but he will find it hardest of all to meet squarely that inevitable inquiry of the puzzled carpenter, as he looks about him, "Have you really read all these books?"...
Yet if you asked him in turn, "Have you actually used every tool in your tool-chest?" you would very likely be told, "Not one half as yet, at least this season; I have the others by me, to use as I need them." Now if this reply can be fairly made in a simple, well-defined, distinctly limited occupation like that of a joiner, how much more inevitable it is in a pursuit which covers the whole range of thought and all the facts in the universe. The library is the author's tool-chest. He must at least learn, as he grows older, to take what he wants and to leave the rest.
~Thomas Wentworth Higginson, "Books Unread," in The Atlantic Monthly, March 1904
It is a curious thing that so many people only go into a bookshop when they happen to need some particular book... There are some knightly souls who... go in not because they need any certain volume, but because they feel that there may be some book that needs them. Some wistful, little forgotten sheaf of loveliness, long pining away on an upper shelf — why not ride up, fling her across your charger (or your charge account), and gallop away. Be a little knightly, you booklovers! ~Christopher Morley, "On Visiting Bookshops"
I was a bookman; I had always been a bookman. From adolescence books had been one of my passions. Books not merely — and perhaps not chiefly — as vehicles of learning or knowledge, but books as books, books as entities, books as beautiful things, books as historical antiquities, books as repositories of memorable associations. Questions of type, ink, paper, margins, watermarks, paginations, bindings, were capable of really agitating me. I was too sensitive and catholic a lover a books to be a scholar in the strict modern meaning of the term. My magnum opus was not a work of scholarship, and even such scholarship as it comprised had been attained by a labor hateful to me. I would inhale the scholarship of others as a sweet smell. I would gather it like honey, but eclectically, never exhausting one flower before trying the next. My knowledge was, perhaps, considerable, but it was unorganized. And my principal claim to consideration was that I could wander in any demesne of culture without having the awkward air of a stranger. In brief, I was comprehensively bookish. ~Arnold Bennett (1867–1931), The Glimpse: An Adventure of the Soul, 1909
There are many persons pretending to have a refined literary taste, who seldom read any books but those which are fashionable... ~Charles Lanman, "Thoughts on Literature," 1840
What to do about her reading things you don't approve of — "trashy" books, comics and the like? In my book, any book they read themselves is a good book. Even Spider-Man can eventually catch you in the web of War & Peace. ~Erma Bombeck & Billings S. Fuess, Jr., "How to encourage your child to read," 1984, from Power of the Printed Word advertising campaign by Ogilvy & Mather for International Paper Company
I'd like my favourite books to bind
So that their outward dress
To every bibliomaniac's mind
Their contents should express.
Napoleon's life should glare in red,
John Calvin's life in blue;
Thus they would typify bloodshed
And sour religion's hue...
~Irving Browne (1835–1899), "How a Bibliomaniac Binds His Books"
That's my book you're reading! It is said that Abraham Lincoln once walked through a blizzard to return a borrowed book. You won't even walk across the room! I should have loaned my book to Abraham Lincoln! ~Charles M. Schulz, Peanuts, 1970 [Linus —tg]
That afternoon, after closing the shop, my father suggested that we stroll along to the Els Quatre Gats, a café on Calle Montsió, where Barceló and his bibliophile knights of the round table gathered to discuss the finer points of decadent poets, dead languages, and neglected, moth-ridden masterpieces. ~Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind, 2001, translated from Spanish by Lucia Graves, 2004
Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books... which you can't tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal. It wasn't even that the book was so good or anything; it was just that the author... seemed to understand me in weird and impossible ways. ~John Green, The Fault in Our Stars, 2012 [The omitted words in this quotation refer to a fictitious book and author — An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten — the title of which is taken from an Emily Dickinson poem "There's a certain slant of light..." According to Green, if you want to "read" the imaginary book, read Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace and The Blood of the Lamb by Peter De Vries and then try to blend the feeling of those two books. Per Emiko Hastings, imaginary books — those which exist only within other books — date back to at least the 1530s. Read more here. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
Catalogues of imaginary libraries are an obscure but fruitful area of collecting. The tradition of imaginary books, which exist only within other books, goes back at least to Rabelais, who invented a list of book titles for the Abbey of Saint-Victor in Gargantua and Pantagruel (c. 1532). ~Emi Hastings, "Catalogues of Imaginary Libraries," 2014
Books are more than doctors, of course. Some novels are loving, lifelong companions; some give you a clip around the ear; others are friends who wrap you in warm towels when you've got those autumn blues. And some… well, some are pink candy floss that tingles in your brain for three seconds and leaves a blissful void. Like a short, torrid love affair. ~Nina George, The Little Paris Bookshop, 2013, translated by Simon Pare, 2015
I can be perfectly happy by myself. With freedom, flowers, books, and the moon, who could not be perfectly happy? ~Oscar Wilde, De Profundis, 1905
Antique well-loved books,
Pages curled and dusty,
old authors most trusty;
Clever, timeless Shakespeare
flanking poets of yesteryear.
~Terri Guillemets, "Heaven's Library," 2007
Through all of my youth these books were my companions, and now, as I write these lines, after sixty years, they still look down upon me with their old friendliness. ~James L. Whitney, "Reminiscences of an Old Librarian," November 1909
One gift the Fairies gave me: (Three
They commonly bestowed of yore)
The Love of Books, the Golden Key
That opens the Enchanted Door...
~Andrew Lang (1844–1912), "Ballade of the Bookworm" [Lang was a lifelong collector of folklore and fairy tales. "The Books I loved, I love them still!" —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
One cannot celebrate books sufficiently. After saying his best, still something better remains to be spoken in their praise. ~A. Bronson Alcott, "Books," June 1869
Judith stood before her little library in the dark November dawn, with a candle in her hand, scanning the familiar titles with weary eyes.... these last few days she had taken to waking at dawn, to lying for hours wide-eyed in her little white bed, while the slow day grew. But to‑day it was intolerable, she could bear it no longer.... She would try a book; not a very hopeful remedy in her own opinion, but one which [those] who were troubled by sleeplessness, regarded, she knew, as the best thing under the circumstances. ~Amy Levy (1861–1889), Reuben Sachs: A Sketch, 1888
He led, at this season, the most home-keeping, book-buying life, and Old French texts made his evenings dear to him. ~Henry James, "James Russell Lowell," in The Atlantic Monthly, January 1892
Who gave their lives for these can know no death.
For I have walked with them in mortal guise
Through woodland ways and swarming city streets;
Yea, have I met the gaze of Shelley's eyes,
And in 'Hyperion' kissed the lips of Keats.
~Charles Washington Coleman (1862–1932), "Of My Books," c.1893
There is reading, and there is reading. Reading as a means to an end, for information, to cultivate oneself; reading as an end in itself, a process, a compulsion. ~Sven Birkerts (b.1951), "Notes from a Confession," The Agni Review, No. 22 (1985)
Titles of Books.—Decoys to catch purchasers. ~Paul Chatfield
Nicole: When you were younger did you enjoy school?
Lemony Snicket: Sometimes. When it was time to read A Midsummer Night's Dream, I enjoyed it. When it was time to run around playing kickball, I wanted to sit and read A Midsummer Night's Dream.
~From a live Facebook chat hosted by Scholastic Reading Club, 2013 January 16th
The study had two leather reading chairs and dark-stained oak bookcases that lined three walls. Frank would dearly have loved to sit down with a stack of books; but the chairs were occupied, and his own parents and Emma had made it clear to him that reading at parties was not done. He decided he had best return to the hall, out of the way of temptation. ~Ray Smith, The Man Who Loved Jane Austen, 1999 [a little altered –tg]
Man's greatest friend is a good book. ~Francis Edward Faragoh, Chasing Yesterday, 1935 film based on Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard by Anatole France, 1881 [Spoken by the character Coccoz, a door-to-door book salesman. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
Old books are leather-bound ghosts. ~Terri Guillemets
left on the pages
of every book you read.
~Dr. SunWolf, professorsunwolf.com
I was raised among books, making invisible friends in pages that seemed cast from dust and whose smell I carry on my hands to this day. ~Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind, 2001, translated from Spanish by Lucia Graves, 2004
Bookshops are the most charming of all shops because they relate themselves so intimately to their visitors. Mr. Rowlandson's had stairs worn by the footfalls of four generations of book-hunters. Against the background of his overflowing shelves, with his old-fashioned clothes, his stooping shoulders, his iron-gray hair, and his firm, tender, and melancholy face,—you will never visit his shop without wishing to frame him as he stands, and set him in the window, among the other rare old prints. Not that all the books in his shop are old; the moderns are there, too. But these newer books are the minority. The composed, brown calf bindings give the shop its tone,—and its faint odor, too; a cultivated taste, the liking for that odor of old books. ~Munson Havens, Old Valentines: A Love Story, 1914 [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
A Full and True Account, of the Battle Fought last Friday, between the Ancient and the Modern Books in St. James's Library ~Jonathan Swift [Yes, this is just the title of a 1697 work by Swift. But it's so clever in and of itself I had to quote it. Also a reminder to myself to go back later and actually read the thing, which is about a controversy during that time arguing whether ancient or modern learning was better. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
Mike Heck: Look, I'm trying not to find out the scores of three football games. And every second I spend out here is another second I risk somebody telling me who won. Imagine you had three books you didn't know the endings to and you're out in a place where a lot of people know the endings.
Brick Heck: I don't understand — if I had three books, why would I go out?
~The Middle, "Halloween VI: Tick Tock Death," 2015, written by Tim Hobert [S7, E6]
The literary man must needs be a thinking one, and every day he lives he becomes wiser—if wiser, then better—if better, then happier. ~Charles Lanman, "Thoughts on Literature," 1840
I cannot begin to tell you what the love of reading will do for your children. It will open doors of curiosity. It will titillate their desire to see places they thought were make-believe. It softens loneliness, fills the gaps of boredom, creates role models and changes the course of their very lives. ~Erma Bombeck & Billings S. Fuess, Jr., "How to encourage your child to read," 1984, from Power of the Printed Word advertising campaign by Ogilvy & Mather for International Paper Company
At times, I feel like a remnant of Victoriana, living in a time warp... if I were living a hundred years ago, I would have it made! I often wonder if the stories of Andersen and Grahame and Milne were submitted today, would they be accepted? Would they be considered too harsh or demanding of their young readers? They did not compromise with reality. They did not condescend. They used big words. They made no fuss over death. And their teddy bears and badgers and brave tin soldiers talked! I am at home and comfortable with them. ~Ethel Pochocki (1925–2010), quoted in Something about the Author, Volume 76, edited by Diane Telgen, 1994
There she was, sitting up in bed again, surrounded by volumes of poetry with poetic images printed on them: rows of daisies, bolts of lightning, streams of musical notes, parades of bugs, fences made out of bloody daggers, and a lot of books with appealing titles like Oblivion and Morosity and The Collected Poems of Ella Wheeler Wilcox. ~Gregory Maguire, What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy, 2007
Dearest — with all these technical wonders around us I'm going to wish you something incredibly old fashioned. The joy of reading books. Books unmolested by Hollywood, Theme Parks, Digests or Strip Cartoonists. Just books. One mind speaking to another across time and space. ~Pam Brown, To a Very Special Daughter, 1991, helenexley.com
Emmy read all sorts of pretty books, every word of which I eagerly listened to, and felt so much interested, and so delighted, and so anxious and curious to hear more. She read pretty stories of little boys and girls, and affectionate mammas and aunts, and kind old nurses, and birds in the fields and woods, and flowers in the gardens and hedges; and then such beautiful fairy tales; and also pretty stories in verse, all of which gave me great pleasure, and were indeed my earliest education. ~Richard Hengist Horne, Memoirs of a London Doll, Written by Herself, 1846 [It was common for female authors to publish under male pseudonyms or initials, but here's a case of a man publishing under a woman's nom de plume: Mrs. Fairstar. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
If you plant a book deep enough in the soil it will come back every spring. Draughts cannot kill it. Nor frosts. Nor overhot suns. Nor overcold snows.... It is alive? Does its nerve tingle when you touch it? Does it still answer you back life for life? Here is a book... made five hundred years before we commenced our Christian total of years. Is it a corpse? No. It still has red in its cheeks. Its eyes sparkle. Its handclasp is warm.... You do not need to set back the clock to get contemporary with it.... It takes me back and forward with equal ease. Time has nothing to do with [it]. It has bettered all the challenges of time. It has neither age nor youth. It has life. ~Horace Traubel (1858–1919), review of the Chinese historical classic The Shu King, translated from the ancient text with a commentary by Walter Gorn Old, in The Conservator, March 1905
I suggest to you that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves. I suggest to you, furthermore, that when you feel that you could almost have written the book yourself — that's the moment when it's influencing you. ~E.M. Forster, "A Book that Influenced Me," 1944 [The book that influenced him was Samuel Butler's 1872 Erewhon. —tg]
You say that you have gone all through
The Book; but has it gone through you?
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Books," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924
When a new experience roots us up we can get replanted through a book... ~Althea Warren (1886–1958)
Oh, stately books, in handsome cases, all standing in their proper places, selected, with an artist's feeling, to match the furniture and ceiling! Pope's, Milton's, Scott's and Shakespeare's grinding, done up in costly leather binding, and all so dismal and forbidding, that you would cry, "Aw, quit your kidding," if some one said, "Sit down and read 'em, to browse around you have full freedom." They stand in rows, all unmolested, unread, unfingered, undigested, save when a housemaid comes to clean them, and from the dust and cobwebs wean them. The plute exhibits them to callers, and says, "They cost ten thousand dollars; I hired a man who knows good writers — that Shakespeare dub and kindred blighters — and said to him, 'Now, off you caper, and buy me books to match this paper; the libra'y's here, so go and trim it with Standard Works, and crowd the limit.'" In my cheap shack the books are scattered around the floor, all stained and battered; they have no deckle-edged ambitions — they're mostly fifty cent editions; but every hour and day I need them, and all the neighbors come and read them. ~Walt Mason (1862–1939), "The Plute's Library"
In the shop we buy and sell them, but in truth books have no owner. ~Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind, 2001, translated from Spanish by Lucia Graves, 2004
[W]e may begin with a class of literary barnacles who stick about the libraries of their friends and of the public institutions, and feed their bibliophilistic appetites on what others have spent much time and money in collecting. These may perhaps more appropriately be called biblio-spongers... ~Henry H. Harper, Book-Lovers, Bibliomaniacs and Book Clubs, 1904
A precious – mouldering pleasure – 'tis –
To meet an Antique Book –
In just the Dress his Century wore –
A privilege – I think –
His venerable Hand to take –
And warming in our own –
A passage back – or two – to make –
To Times when he – was young...
His presence is enchantment –
You beg him not to go –
Old Volumes shake their Vellum Heads
And tantalize – just so –
~Emily Dickinson, 1863
The brown book in his hand was his beloved Malory. He had not yet grown tired of its pages, nor had they lost their magic. They wore a halo, as they must do for natures like Antony's, which is a grail in itself. Is it not true that the realism of yesterday becomes the idealism of today? ~Florence Bone (1875–1971), The Morning of To‑Day, 1907
The more that you read,
the more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
the more places you'll go.
~Dr. Seuss, I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!, 1978
I love my love with an F because she gave me my copy of Arthur Davison Ficke's "Sonnets of a Portrait Painter" (which another wise friend, incognito, has since borrowed, forever, I fear). I love my love with an M because through all one year in riding to work and back together, we carried Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Fatal Interview" in the automobile, and learned twenty-seven of the sonnets by heart. (A traffic stop is just time enough to say a sonnet if you really know it well.) I love my love with a B and an F because in our teens we stayed all night at each other's house on alternate Saturdays and read aloud until four in the morning Brontë's "Jane Eyre" and Jessie Fothergill's "First Violin" (but not without weeping)! And so on through more than an alphabet of that sisterhood of printers' ink who to this day write book recommendations in the postscripts of their letters or on the backs of the envelopes. ~Althea H. Warren, 1935 [a little altered –tg]
Brick, I got your favorites — books and waffles. ~The Middle, "A Birthday Story," 2010, written by Vijal Patel [S2, E7, Frankie]
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. But a book is never just a book. ~The Old Sage Bookshop in Prescott, Arizona
...the peaceful seclusion, and the almost sacred leisure... ~Frances Milton Trollope (1780–1863), Mrs. Mathews; or, Family Mysteries, 1851 [In a room full of books. Note: Some sources cite Mrs Trollope's year of birth as 1779. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
The cricket is a small, black, ambulatory noise surrounded by a sentimental aura. On occasion it lives in the open fields, but its favorite habitat is behind a couch or under a bookcase in a room where somebody is trying to read. ~Hal Borland
Speed reading? Why would anyone give up the pleasure of letting the writer set the pace? Of using one's ears to adjust to a new voice?... This sort of reading does away with the writer, and is probably best used on textbooks which eliminate the write from the start. If you must read everything at the same speed, why not choose to read slowly?... slowly enough to let the words reverberate, to draw the imagination to them. ~William Corbett, "On Reading: Notes & a Poem," The Agni Review, No. 22 (1985)
I like books that glow in their own literary light — on a dark shelf, surrounded by a cloud of glistering stardust. ~Terri Guillemets
A book is a sign of the age-old effort to maintain what one generation hands on to another... ~Max Lerner, 1953
Which shines brighter — the candle or the book? ~Terri Guillemets, "Night reading," 1989
There is also that kind of reading which is just looking at books. From time to time—I can't say what dictates the impulse—I pull a chair up in front of a section of my library. An expectant tranquility settles over me. I move my eyes slowly, reading the spines, or identifying the title by its color and positioning. Just to see my books, to note their presence, their proximity to other books, fills me with a sense of futurity. "Books," I once noted grandly, "embody the spirit's dream of perpetual youth." What is important at these moments is not the contents of the books, but the idea of their existence. I have not read every one, nor is it likely that I will—but to know that I might! ~Sven Birkerts, "Notes from a Confession," The Agni Review, No. 22 (1985)
My oft-despondent heart rejoices;
I hear again long-silent voices.
~T.J. Chapman, "My Books," c.1889
Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it. When we inquire into any subject, the first thing we have to do is to know what books have treated of it. This leads us to look at catalogues, and the backs of books in libraries. ~Samuel Johnson, 1775, quoted by James Boswell in The Life of Samuel Johnson [Sometimes paraphrased, since the early 1900s, as "The next best thing to knowing something is knowing where to find it." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
I'm a bookaholic on the road to recovery. Ha, not really. I'm on the road to the bookstore. ~Author unknown
Let's get drunk at the library
and have a book party!
"What a good time!" she said
in an excited whisper.
~Terri Guillemets, "Book party!," 2019, scrambled blackout poetry created from F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, 1925, pages 43–45
And then sometimes a sudden chill doth strike
My heart with very horror, and I shrink
Away from their dull touch, shudd'ring to think
How much of human life that, vampire-like,
These books have sucked beneath their leathern wings,
How brains have broken and frail bodies bent
To feed with human blood these bloodless things...
~Charles Washington Coleman (1862–1932), "Of My Books," c.1893
Books minister to our pain, our curiosity and wonder, our needs, our loneliness, our souls. ~Terri Guillemets
The ardor of possessing books, commonly called bibliomania, also styled bibliophilism and "biblio"—whatever else that has suggested itself to the fruitful imaginations of dozens of felicitous writers upon the subject,—is described by Dibdin as a "disease which grows with our growth, and strengthens with our strength." ⁂ It should be remembered, however, that one possessing a fondness for books is not necessarily a bibliomaniac. There is as much difference between the inclinations and taste of a bibliophile and a bibliomaniac as between a slight cold and the advanced stages of consumption. Some one has said that "to call a bibliophile a bibliomaniac is to conduct a lover, languishing for his maiden's smile, to an asylum for the demented, and to shut him up in the ward for the incurables." A bibliomaniac might properly be called an insane or crazy bibliophile. It is, however, a harmless insanity. ~Henry H. Harper, Book-Lovers, Bibliomaniacs and Book Clubs, 1904
What wild desires, what restless torments seize
The hapless man, who feels the book-disease...
~John Ferriar, "The Bibliomania, An Epistle, To Richard Heber, Esq.", 1809
Read Edgar Allan Poe with me in an abandoned cemetery on a fog-laden day with the sound of ravens in the distance, or don't tell me you're "down for a good time". ~Keith Wynn, @ravenrhapsodies, tweet, 2020
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all. ~Oscar Wilde, Preface to Dorian Gray, 1890
A London publisher says that unsettled weather means the taking up of more serious books than continued sunshine tempts to, and in an exceptionally fine summer there is a notable falling away of reading of whatever kind. The successful publisher of books for summer reading in England must be one who combines an intimate knowledge of the records of the Weather Bureau with a study of its daily bulletin and a first-hand and unremitting observation of thermometer, barometer, anemometer, the shapes of clouds, and the color of the sky. Without a moment's warning the treacherous weathervane may compel him to stop the presses that are pouring out "Lady Geraldine's Lovers" or "Patsy's Husbands," and start "Wet Days at Wedgewood" or "Soul-Fog," or "Mist and Mysticism." ~Reading and the Weather," The Publisher's Weekly, 1911 [a little altered —tg]
UNBOOKISH, a. — Not addicted to books or reading. ~Noah Webster, A Dictionary of the English Language, 1828
Davy, however, was perfectly happy... he was reading an enthralling tale, in a school library book, of a wonderful hero who seemed blessed with a miraculous faculty for getting into scrapes from which he was usually delivered by an earthquake or a volcanic explosion, which blew him high and dry out of his troubles, landed him in a fortune, and closed the story with proper éclat. ~L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, 1915
For forty-five dollars I could pay for nine years' subscription to the Mercantile Library, containing all the good reading of the present day and all the standard works of the past. But I rather like to have the books, and to feel that they are my own. ~John Kendrick Bangs, The Idiot at Home, 1900
I do not sell reefers to my young customers, but I do something almost as reprehensible — I keep "series" books on my shelves. These are books, for example, the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew, today's equivalents to all the admirable, if two-dimensional, characters who gladdened our youth. They're on the public library informal Index Expurgatorius, and most teachers want their students to read only novels and classics — not such childhood classics as the Bobbsey Twins. The usual objection is that such books are unrealistic, and this is quite true. The heroes are all incredibly upright, forthright, downright, and outright, and the baddies are so bad you can hardly stand it. But if a book can keep one boy or girl off a street corner for an evening, it has served its purpose. I know a good many parents who can't do as much.
Once on an experiment, I filled two shelves of a classroom bookcase with comic books and two shelves with fiction. It made quite a contrast — the fresh, colorful folders beside the worn re-bound old books. The incredible monsters and heroes were the obvious favorites, but in the stretch they faded; the old beat-up books won. All the hyperthyroid whoop-de-do seemed to pall after a while. I'm willing to let my library patrons work up to the classics, starting wherever they want to — even with series books, loathed as they are by most librarians. ~Gerald Raftery, "I Like Horatio Alger!," in The New York Herald Tribune, 1959 December 13th [a little altered –tg]
No doubt most of you think biography dull reading. You would much rather sit down with a good story. But have you ever thought what a story is? It is nothing but a bit of make-believe biography. ~Burton E. Stevenson, A Guide to Biography for Young Readers: American — Men of Action, "Chapter I: A Talk about Biography," 1909
Encourage and pursue an inclination to reading early in life; it is laying up a treasure for the latter part of it... ~Countess Dowager of Carlisle, Thoughts in the Form of Maxims addressed to Young Ladies, on their First Establishment in the World, 1790 [Isabella Howard (1721–1795) —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
This is a place of mystery, Daniel, a sanctuary. Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens. ~Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind, 2001, translated from Spanish by Lucia Graves, 2004
She found herself positively quizzing her own monomania upon the subject of buying books and peeping at the titles of the great miscellaneous ill-arranged mass of books, the multitude of dusky-looking old tomes with a copious sprinkling of fresh-looking new ones, that in one way or another seemed to occupy every part of the room. ~Frances Milton Trollope (1780–1863), Mrs. Mathews; or, Family Mysteries, 1851 [A little altered. Some sources cite Mrs Trollope's year of birth as 1779. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
What the candystore was to other kids, the bookstore was to me. The library was my vacation. ~Terri Guillemets, "Young bookworm," 1998
I always pity a fine old volume which has fallen into poor company, and sometimes buy it, even if I do not want it, that it may find itself once more among its peers. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, "Pillow-Soothing Authors," 1883
Nothing is more beautiful than a beautiful book. ~Joseph Joubert (1754–1824), translated from French by George H. Calvert, 1866
The lover may rave of his ruddy-cheeked lass,
The sailor may sing of the sea;
And topers may tell of the charms of the glass,
But Books have more beauty for me.
A book is a treasure more precious than gold;
An heirloom bequeathed to mankind;
A casket of wisdom in which we behold
The kingliest gems of the mind.
~Alfred C. Brant, "The Bibliophile," c.1880
In youngsters' scale of values, paperback books have blurred the distinction between magazines which are expendable and books which aren't. ~Gerald Raftery, "Why Kids Steal Books," in Library Journal, 1959 [a little altered –tg]
I've been saving books for all these years, and they've been saving me for my entire life. ~Terri Guillemets
‘Women’ and ‘Shakespeare’ are the two best words in the English language! ~B. W. Woodward, Old Wine in New Bottles: For Old and New Friends, 1890 [“Reverend Somebody” —tg]
Once, in my father's bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. ~Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind, 2001, translated from Spanish by Lucia Graves, 2004
Books light the world, like Rosicrucian lamps
Lit by the Masters, burning through all time—
The magic of great souls in prose and rhyme
Untouched by wasting days and earthly damps.
Books are a joy: I love to see a shelf
Of such mind-treasure; but when all is writ,
Books are but books, for all their charm and wit.
For what's a tale of love to love itself?
What song of love can e'er be half so sweet
As happiness of lovers when they meet?
I think that Shakespeare would have given thrice his glory
To have been sole hero of one woman's story.
Been more than willing with poet-crown to part
To reign throned monarch in one woman's heart.
~C. Allen Clarke (1863–1935), "Books are But Books," Windmill Land, 1932
The alluring influences of bibliophilism, or book-loving, have silently crept into thousands of homes, whether beautiful or humble; for the library is properly regarded as one of the most important features of home as well as mental equipment. ~Henry H. Harper, Book-Lovers, Bibliomaniacs and Book Clubs, 1904
No other decoration is needed in a room lined with books... Their varied colors make a design as rich as an Oriental rug. ~Althea Warren (1886–1958), "The Satisfactions of Librarianship," a talk given at a staff meeting of the Los Angeles County Public Library, 1947 March 12th
...books which fill shelves on the green walls. Old books, with musty covers, and time-worn pages. I like the words and expressions of “olden-day” writers... ~Helen Rose Anne Milman Crofton, My Kalendar of Country Delights, 1903
Anne looked up from Pickwick Papers. Now that spring examinations were over she was treating herself to Dickens. ~L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, 1915 [Kindred soul! —tg]
"What are you reading?"
"That's a book that always makes me hungry... There's so much good eating in it. The characters seem always to be revelling on ham and eggs and milk punch. I generally go on a cupboard rummage after reading Pickwick..." ~L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, 1915
It is a library with living rooms attached. ~Bernard Berenson, about his villa in Italy, 1955
But now and then there comes up the aisle a new Perfect Reader, and all the ghosts of literature wait for him, starry-eyed, by the altar. And as long as there are Perfect Readers, who read with passion, with glory, and then speed to tell their friends, there will always be, ever and anon, a Perfect Writer. ~Christopher Morley (1890–1957), "The Perfect Reader," c.1920
Book ink is blood-drops of author-heart. ~Terri Guillemets
Books are the windows through which the soul looks out. A house without books is like a room without windows. ~Henry Ward Beecher, "The Duty of Owning Books," in Friends' Intelligencer, Second Month 4, 1860
I like to party, and by party I mean a slumber party for one with plenty of books to read. ~WritersWrite.co.za
One of the joys of reading is the ability to plug into the shared wisdom of mankind. ~Ishmael Reed, Writin' is Fightin': Thirty-Seven Years of Boxing on Paper, p.186
Old or new, the only sign I always try to rid my books of (usually with little success) is the price-sticker that malignant booksellers attach to the backs. These evil white scabs rip off with difficulty, leaving leprous wounds and traces of slime to which adhere the dust and fluff of ages, making me wish for a special gummy hell to which the inventor of these stickers would be condemned. ~Alberto Manguel, The Library at Night
The publishers are wholeheartedly cooperating in the effort to conserve vital materials and manpower by manufacturing this book in full conformity with War Production Board Ruling L-245, curtailing the use of paper by book publishers, and all other United States Government regulations. This has been accomplished without abbreviating the book in any way. It is absolutely complete and unabridged. Not a word, not a paragraph, not a comma has been omitted. ~Note in Elbert Hubbard's Scrap Book: Containing the Inspired and Inspiring Selections Gathered During a Life Time of Discriminating Reading for His Own Use, copyright 1923 by The Roycrofters, printed by the American Book-Stratford Press at their shops in New York City, Wm. H. Wise & Co.
The title of a book fills the place of the face in a human being. ~Gustav Boehm, "A Discourse on Title Page Composition," in The Inland Printer (Chicago), March 1886
A little library, growing larger every year, is an honorable part of a young man's history. ~Henry Ward Beecher, "The Duty of Owning Books," in Friends' Intelligencer, Second Month 4, 1860 [And this young woman's! —tg]
Numerous as was her queer and miscellaneous collection of books, she perceived, as she looked around her with a business-like and scrutinising eye, that there was still room for many hundreds more; nay, as her fancy luxuriated in the conscious power of acquisition, she began to meditate on the possibility of adding to her space by a bold inroad on a laundry, to which, though now approached by a different staircase, access might be obtained by means of knocking down an old wall... ~Frances Milton Trollope (1780–1863), Mrs. Mathews; or, Family Mysteries, 1851 [My dream too, a bookish remodel! Note: Some sources cite Mrs Trollope's year of birth as 1779. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
Reading is departure and arrival. ~Terri Guillemets
As a child I read books which were inappropriate. Naturally they contained words I had to look up. Later in life I became quite addicted to the Oxford English Dictionary. ~Lemony Snicket, answer to Caitlin, "How did you come by such an astonishing vocabulary? Some of my favorite words are thanks to your writing," during a live Facebook chat hosted by Scholastic Reading Club, 2013 January 16th
There are four thousand books on those overweighted shelves; all sorts and conditions of books; big folios and little duodecimos, ragged books and books clothed by Rivière and Bedford. ~Munson Havens, Old Valentines: A Love Story, 1914
I never studied any particular writer, but have always read simply what pleased me, and remembered whatever impressed itself on my memory as it were without any help of mine, or at any rate apart from any set purpose. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), translated by Norman Alliston, 1908
One nice feature of books is that they are never asleep and never otherwise engaged. ~James Henry Potts, "The Companionship of Books," Every Life a Delight, 1914
Nothing is more unfair to an author than to read or "dip into" his book before seeing what he has to say about it in his Preface. ~J. J. Manley, 1877
My second librarian position was in the vast brick buildings of Sears, Roebuck and Company, in 1911... No barriers limited what books we might give. One afternoon a note arrived by the pneumatic tube from a bubbling Irish girl in the bookkeeping division of the Grocery Department. "It's very slow here on this rainy day. Please send me one of those novels you have had to withdraw from circulation as unfit for a lady to read." Next day she returned the book, discretely wrapped, with this message. "Blessings upon you! You are quite right. This is not fit for anybody to read. Please send another just like it." ~Althea Warren (1886–1958), in The Library Bulletin, 1945
It was a small'ish bookstore. Yet is not any bookstore large to a bibliophile's heart? ~Terri Guillemets
There's Byron on my shelf, and Shelley too;
There's dear old Doctor Holmes, and Thomas Moore,
With Wordsworth just below him, bound in blue,
And Browning's works stand over by the door.
There's Milton, Scott, Macaulay's Lays of Rome;
There's Tennyson and Matthew Arnold terse;
Longfellow, Shakespeare, and Rossetti's tome;
The odes of Horace and blest Omar's verse.
So vast these riches are in my poor eyes,
I can't decide which poet on my shelf
I'll read to-night, and so I'll compromise
And read these "Rhymes" in full calf by myself.
~John Kendrick Bangs (1862–1922), "An Alternative"
Think of the pleasure of taking down your well-thumbed Treasure Island. You meant only to read just a little but you got to the place where Black Bill comes tapping down the highway, each tap striking terror deeper into the heart of the trembling boy in the doorway and you were lost in the story with a child hanging over your shoulder breathlessly waiting the next word. A pleasure shared is a pleasure doubled when it comes to sharing the books of your boyhood with your lad. ~Angelo Patri, 1924
the smell of vintage words,
the taste of authors' souls,
the feel of books a thousand times read,
the sight of worn spines in line on a shelf,
the haunting sound and inked-mind silence of
[H]ere... are the second-hand bookshops. Here we find anchorage in these thwarting currents of being; here we balance ourselves after the splendours and miseries of the streets... Second-hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack. ~Virginia Woolf (1882–1941), "Street Haunting: A London Adventure," 1930
If the book is second-hand, I leave all its markings intact, the spoor of previous readers, fellow-travellers who have recorded their passage by means of scribbled comments, a name on the fly-leaf, a bus ticket to mark a certain page. ~Alberto Manguel, The Library at Night
Oscar Wilde said that a book earmarked is art, — reading art. ~Terri Guillemets, "The art of reading," 2019, blackout poetry created from Louise Penny, Still Life, 2005, pages 145–149
As a librarian, I find that one of youth's most popular bookmarks is a popsicle stick, but this is usually licked dry and sanitary first. I am inclined to believe, however, that this is not invariably done from motives of cleanliness. ~Gerald Raftery, "Ambrosia — with Mayonnaise Yet!," in The New York Herald Tribune, 1961 September 10th
A health to books!...
Your goblets all refill;
When all things mortal are decayed
May books be with us still!
~Cyril M. Drew
Librarians Dewey it better. ~As seen on a bumper sticker, 2005
Book lovers are better under the covers. ~Terri Guillemets, "Smart Girls," 2008
I need fiction. I'm an addict. This is not a figure of speech.... Colonies of prose have formed in the bathroom and in the dimness of the upstairs landing, so that I don't go without text even in the leftover spaces of the house where I spend least time. ~Francis Spufford (b.1964), "Confessions of an English Fiction Eater," The Child That Books Built: A Life in Reading, 2002
[W]omen are great readers, they are really very fond of books, have fine literary perception, good judgment and a keen sense of character; but, alas, they cannot bring themselves to regard books as anything more than a mere part and parcel of the universe — not the universe itself, as the true book lover regards them. ~"Ben: Bookman's Budget," The Book Lover, published by William Evarts Benjamin, December 1889 [Yah, come say that to my face, Ben! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
In the charming romance, "Realmah," the noble African prince prescribes monogamy to his subjects, but he allows himself three wives — a State wife to sit by his side on the throne; a Household wife to rule the kitchen and homely affairs; and a Love-wife to be cherished in his heart and bear him children. Why would it not be fair to the Book-Worm to concede him a Book-wife, who should understand and sympathize with him in his eccentricity, and who should care more for rare and beautiful books than for diamonds, laces, Easter bonnets and ten-button gloves?... A woman who has a true and wise sympathy with her husband's book-buying is an adored object. ~Irving Browne, "Women as Collectors," In the Track of the Bookworm: Thoughts, Fancies, and Gentle Gibes on Collecting and Collectors, by One of Them, 1897 [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
Romance novels: All of the passion, none of the herpes. ~Internet meme, c.2016
A book, a book,
and another book —
my real friends, because
I can't stand people.
~Terri Guillemets, "I ¾ Jest," 2019, blackout poetry created from Ouida Sebestyen, Words by Heart (a condensation of the novel), in Reader's Digest Condensed Books: Volume 4 – 1979, page 323
There are biblio-mercenaries of such sordid inclinations that they would readily part with almost any book in their possession,—even inscribed presentation copies!— if lightly tempted with money considerations. Verily, these parsimonious traders would barter their own souls, if they possessed any value. ~Henry H. Harper, Book-Lovers, Bibliomaniacs and Book Clubs, 1904
Browsing the dim back corner
Of a musty antique shop
An old book of poetry fell open
Gold-gilded dust filled the air
Angels flew out from the pages
I caught the whiff of a soul
The ink seemed fresh as today
Was that voices whispering?
The tree of the paper still grows.
There is nothing more comforting than a silent companion when one reads... ~Jane Elizabeth, For the Jane Bennets, 2012
[F]or decades it survived in the only way that forgotten books do survive: undisturbed in the stacks. ~Michael Gorra, about a 1911 book titled The Henry James Year Book edited by Evelyn Garnaut Smalley, in the foreword to The Daily Henry James: A Year of Quotes from the Work of the Master, 2016
Books are tangible — and intangible — history. ~Terri Guillemets
There is a feebler but still more irritating form of outrage upon books in public libraries, which consists in scrawling on the margins the vapid and frivolous criticisms or opinions of the reader, who often unconsciously gives evidence that he is incapable of appreciating what he reads. ~"The Sufferings and Death of Books," Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, 1890 August 30th
[R]eading time is still limited no matter how many commitments of work or friendship I am willing to ditch in favor of the pages. ~Francis Spufford (b.1964), "Confessions of an English Fiction Eater," The Child That Books Built: A Life in Reading, 2002
There are books from which one inhales an exquisite air. ~Joseph Joubert (1754–1824), translated from French by George H. Calvert, 1866
"I can always tell when you're reading somewhere in the house," my mother used to say. "There's a special silence, a reading silence." ~Francis Spufford (b.1964), "Confessions of an English Fiction Eater," The Child That Books Built: A Life in Reading, 2002
Ah, bare, small room that I have sorrowed in;
Ay, and on sunny days, haply, rejoiced;
We know some things together, you and I!
Hold there, you rangéd row of books! In vain
You beckon from your shelf. You've stood my friends
Where all things else were foes; yet now I'll turn
My back upon you, even as the world
Turns it on me. And yet—farewell, farewell!
You, lofty Shakespeare, with the tattered leaves
And fathomless great heart, your binding's bruised
Yet did I love you less? Goethe, farewell;
Farewell, triumphant smile and tragic eyes,
And pitiless world-wisdom!
~Amy Levy, "A Minor Poet," c.1884
Psychopathia librorum.... I surround myself with the printed word. ~Sven Birkerts (b.1951), "Notes from a Confession," The Agni Review, No. 22 (1985)
I don't think we should read for instruction but to give our souls a chance to luxuriate. Feelings come before intellect. ~Henry Valentine Miller (1891–1980), letter to Brenda Venus, 1976
One of the advantages of reading books is that you get to play with someone else's imaginary friends, at all hours of the night. ~Dr. SunWolf, professorsunwolf.com
Bookstores are emotional places both for their patrons and for the employees. They are built on the sweat and tears of hardworking people, each bookshelf lined with the lifework of hundreds of artists. Each of those books represent endless hours of grind and toil. Often the bookstore owner and employees are also writers. Is there a space with more fulfilled or unfulfilled dreams? ~Bob Eckstein, Introduction to Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores: True Tales and Lost Moments from Book Buyers, Booksellers, and Book Lovers, 2016
The tedium of many a book is its salvation: the critic, after raising his javelin, falls asleep before he hurls it. ~Marie Dubsky, Freifrau von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830–1916), translated by Mrs Annis Lee Wister, 1882
The ink of timeless books
transmutes in tinge and shade
from one century to another
but classic words never fade.
Readers of novels. I sometimes think that I could, if put to it, pick the real readers of novels out of a crowd. They have a strangeness about the eye, almost as if there were an extra bit of lens on the cornea.... The glance of a reader shows me a soul with a different orientation to time... ~Sven Birkerts (b.1951), "Notes from a Confession," The Agni Review, No. 22 (1985)
Last saved 2021 Jun 05 Sat 11:35 PDT