Books

“A book does not make bad jokes, drink too much, or eat more than you can afford to pay for.” – Kenneth Turan [“On Reading a Book While Dining Out,” New York Times, April 13, 1983)

“A book is a garden; a book is an orchard; a book is a storehouse; a book is a party. It is company by the way; it is a counselor; it is a multitude of counselors.” – Henry Ward Beecher (Proverbs from the Plymouth Pulpit: The Press, 1887)

“A book is a gift you can open again and again.” — Garrison Keillor

“A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.” – Edward P. Morgan

“A novel is a garden carried in the pocket.” – Arab proverb

“A wonderful thing about a book, in contrast to a computer screen, is that you can take it to bed with you.” – Daniel J. Boorstein

“All books aren’t worth reading; all books aren’t worth your reading; and some books aren’t worth your reading now.” – J. Bernard Haviland

“All that Mankind has done, thought, gained or been: it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of Books.” – Thomas Carlyle (“The Hero as a Man of Letters,” 1840; cited in Books: An Anthology compiled by James Thompson, 1968)

“All the glory of the world would be buried in oblivion, unless God had provided mortals with the remedy of books.” – Richard de Bury (Philobiblon, 1345; cited in Books: An Anthology compiled by James Thompson, 1968)

“Books add to our joy in prosperity, they provide refuge and comfort in adversity; they give pleasure at home and advancement abroad; they pass the night hours with us, accompany us on the road, share on holidays in the country.” – Cicero

“Books are carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculations at a standstill. Books are the engines of change, windows on the world, ‘lighthouses’ (as the poet said) ‘erected in the sea of time.’ They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind. Books are humanity in print.” – Barbara Tuchman

“Books are…a delight at home, and no hindrance abroad; companions at night, in travelling, in the country.” – Cicero

“Books are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time.” – E.P. Whipple

“Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind.” — James Russell Lowell

“…Books have a different place in our society than other media. Books are different from television or film because they ask you to finish the project. You have to be actively engaged to read a book. It’s more like a blueprint. What it really is, is an opportunity… A book is a place where you’re forced to use your imagination.” – Joe Meno (quoted by Edan Lepucki)

“Books have meant to my life what the sun has meant to the Planet Earth.” – Earl Nightingale

“Books may be the only true magic.” – Alice Hoffman

“Books should to one of these four ends conduce / For wisdom, piety, delight, or use.” – Sir John Denham (“Of Prudence,” 1668)

“Books were my pass to personal freedom. I learned to read at age three, and soon discovered there was a whole world to conquer that went beyond our farm in Mississippi.” – Oprah Winfrey

“A book can be an escape from the house.” – Dove Ashton

“Death steals everything except our stories.” – Jim Harrison (“Larson’s Holstein Bull” from In Search of Small Gods, 2009)

“Except a living man there is nothing more wonderful than a book! A message to us from the dead – from human souls we never saw, who lived, perhaps, thousands of miles away. And yet these, in those little sheets of paper, speak to us, terrify us, teach us, comfort us, open their hearts to us as brothers.” – Charles Kingsley

“Finishing a good book is like leaving a good friend.” – William Feather (The Business of Life)

“Free men find in books the strength to keep themselves free.” – John B. Nicholson, Jr.

“I cannot live without books.” – Thomas Jefferson (in a letter to John Adams, 1815)

“I don’t believe that there is any involvement with the world I could find that would turn me from the immersions of fiction.” – Sven Birkerts (An Artificial Wilderness, 1987)

“In literature, as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others.” – Andre Maurois (1885-1967)

“In the highest civilization the book is still the highest delight. He who has once known its satisfactions is provided with a resource against calamity.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Just the knowledge that a good book is waiting at the end of a long day makes that day happier.” – Kathleen Norris (Hands Full of Living, 1931)

“Knowledge and entertainment in the portable form of books came to America with its first colonist, and reading for profit or pleasure has ever since been an integral part of the life of this land.” – James D. Hart (The Popular Book, 1950)

“Life is too short for reading inferior books.” – James Bryce (address at Rutgers College, 1911; cited in Books: An Anthology compiled by James Thompson, 1968)

“Literature can shake our lives to the core. Our life can turn around corners by simply reading words on a page….Literature remains the only medium that gets directly inside our interior life.” – John Barth (quoted in the Baltimore Sun, October 7, 1975)

“Man builds no structure which outlives a book.” – Eugene Fitch Ware (1841-1911)

“Of all the needs a book has, the chief need is that it be readable.” – Anthony Trollope (An Autobiography, 1883)

“Pandora’s Box had nothing on a book.” – Lawrence Clark Powell (quoted in Books are Basic: The Essential Lawrence Clark Howell edited by John David Marshall, 1985)

“People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in the ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic. – Margaret Lea (quoted by Diane Setterfield in The Thirteenth Tale)

“Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered.” – W.H. Auden (“Reading,” The Dyer’s Hand, 1963)

“The one invincible thing is a good book; neither malice nor stupidity can crush it.” – George Moore

“The real purpose of books is to trap the mind into doing its own thinking.” – Christopher Morley

“There are books…which take rank in our life with parents and lovers and passionate experiences.” – Emerson

“There is no such thing as an interesting book: there can only be interested readers.” – A.B. Herr (“A Teacher Looks at Reading”)

“There is nothing like books – of all things sold incomparably the cheapest, of all pleasure the least palling, they take up little room, keep quiet when they are not wanted, and, when taken up, bring us face to face with the choicest men who ever lived, at their choicest moments.” – Samuel Palmer (letter to Charles West Cape, January 31, 1880)

“There is scarce a single joy I know / That can persuade me from my books to go.” – Geoffrey Chaucer (The Legend of Good Women, c. 1385)

“This will never be a civilized country until we expend more money for books than we do for chewing gum.” – Elbert Hubbard (1859-1915)

“You are never the same person when you finish a book—even one that is read purely for escape or entertainment. A conviction may take root or deepen, the imagination may be sparked, a new perspective may dawn.” –Philip Yancey (quoted in Indelible Ink (2003)edited by Scott Larsen (Waterbrook Press, 2003)

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” – James Baldwin (television narration about his life, WNEW-TV, June 1, 1964; cited in the Home Book of American Quotations)

“We possess the books we read, animating the waiting stillness of their language, but they possess us also, filling us with thoughts and observations, asking us to make them part of ourselves….Books enlarge us by giving direct access to experiences not our own.” – David L. Ulin (“The Lost Art of Reading,” Los Angeles Times, August 9, 2009)

“Few pleasures, for the true reader, rival the pleasure of browsing unhurriedly among books: old books, new books, library books, other people’s books, one’s own books – it does not matter whose or where. Simply to be among books, glancing at one here, reading a page from one over there, enjoying them all as objects to be touched, looked at, even smelt, is a deep satisfaction. And often, very often, while browsing haphazardly, looking for nothing in particular, you pick up a volume that suddenly excites you, and you know that this one of all the others you must read. Those are great moments – and the books we come across like that are often the most memorable.” – Aidan Chambers

“Literature is the immortal part of history; it is the best and most enduring part of personality. But book-friends have this advantage over living friends; you can enjoy the most truly aristocratic society in the world whenever you want it. The great dead are beyond our physical reach, and the great living are usually almost as inaccessible; as for our personal friends and acquaintances, we cannot always see them. Perchance they are asleep, or away on a journey. But in a private library, you can at any moment converse with Socrates or Shakespeare or Carlyle or Dumas or Dickens or Shaw or Barrie or Galsworthy. And there is no doubt that in these books you see these men at their best. They wrote for you. They “laid themselves out,” they did their ultimate best to entertain you, to make a favorable impression. You are necessary to them as an audience is to an actor; only instead of seeing them masked, you look into their innermost heart of heart.” – William Lyon Phelps

“It is chiefly through books that we enjoy intercourse with superior minds. In the best books, great men talk to us, give us their most precious thoughts, and pour their souls into ours.” – William Ellery Channing

“Live for a while in the books you love. Learn from them what is worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be returned to you a thousand times over. Whatever your life may become, these books -of this I am certain- will weave through the web of your unfolding. They will be among the strongest of all threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys.” – R. M. Rilke,  Letters to a Young Poet

“I guess that’s the beauty of books. When they finish, they don’t really finish.” – Markus Zusak

“The book itself is a curious artifact, not showy in its technology but complex and extremely efficient: a really neat little device, compact, often very pleasant to look at and handle, that can last decades, even centuries. It doesn’t have to be plugged in, activated, or performed by a machine; all it needs is light, a human eye, and a human mind. It is not one of a kind, and it is not ephemeral. It lasts. It is reliable. If a book told you something when you were fifteen, it will tell you again when you’re fifty, though you may understand it so differently that it seems you’re reading a whole new book.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

“If I am open to it, reading allows a sort of magical transference to occur: the characters and their story–their joys and sorrows and longings and loves–settle in my heart and become part of me, and I never have to say goodbye to any of it. For someone who hates goodbyes–whether to loved ones or experiences or places I love–this is gold, the real thing. It’s like taking home a spice-bottleful of ocean, and still hearing it roar in my ear, miles and miles away.” – Bo Caldwell

“A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.” – Madeleine L’Engle

“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“We don’t need a list of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and donts: we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever.” – Philip Pullman

“Books lift us out of the smallness of the present and into history, out of the smallness of ourselves and into humanity.” – Brian Jay Stanley (“The Communion of Strangers,” The Sun, April 2012)

“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 Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind

“Books. They are lined up on shelves or stacked on a table. There they are wrapped up in there jackets, lines of neat print on nicely bound pages. They look like such orderly, static things. Then you, the reader come along. You open the book jacket, and it can be like opening the gates to an unknown city, or opening the lid of a treasure chest. You read the first word and you’re off on a journey of exploration and discovery.” – David Almond

“Books have the same enemies as people: fire, humidity, animals, weather, and their own content.” – Paul Valery

“Books are like people. Some look deceptively attractive from a distance, some deceptively unappealing; some are easy company, some demand hard work that isn’t guaranteed to pay off. Some become friends and say friends for life. Some change in our absence — or perhaps it is we who change in theirs — and we meet up again only to find that we don’t get along any more.” –  Mark Haddon (The Right Words in the Right Order)

“Books let us into their souls and lay open to us the secrets of our own.”  – William Hazlitt

“…for some of us, books are as important as anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid pieces of paper unfolds world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet you or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die. They are full of the things that you don’t get in life…wonderful, lyrical language, for instance. And quality of attention: we may notice amazing details duringthe course of a day but we rarely let ourselves stop and really pay attention. An author makes you notice, makes you pay attention and this is a great gift. My gratitude for good writing is unbounded; I’m grateful for it the way I’m grateful for the ocean.” – Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird)

“I admit it. I am an addict. Addicted to reading by those pavement magicians shouting at us like circus barkers: those booksellers endlessly rearranging their displays and corrupting us with their seductive litany of titles-as they lured us away from the little world of the self and into whole galaxies of the imagination.” – Gita Mehta (Snakes and Ladders)

“Books and life are bonded at the molecular level. To remove one is to fatally wound the other. We learn about life from books, especially novels and Shakespeare, and life teaches us how to read them with growing discernment. Try to imagine your capacity for moral understanding and your at-homeness in the world if you had never read George Eliot, Tolstoy, James or Bellow.” – Patrick Kurp (Kurp’s blog, Anecdotal Evidence)

“I talk about my books as if they were people, and I choose them the way I choose my friends: because somebody nice introduced us, because I liked their looks, because the best of them turn out to be smart and funny and both surprising and inevitable at the same time.” – Sara Nelson (So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading, 2003)

“Part of the appeal of books…is that they’re the cheapest and easiest way to transport you from the world you know into one you don’t….Part time machine, part Concorde, part ejector seat, books are our salvation.” – Sara Nelson (So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading, 2003)

“Books, by their very nature and variety, help us to grow in empathy for others, in tolerance and awareness. But they should increase our skepticism as well as our humanity.” – Michael Dirda (A Reading Life, p. 26)

“Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourse of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.” – Helen Keller

Comerado, this is no book,
Who touches this, touches a man,
(Is it night? Are we here alone?)
It is I you hold, and who holds you,
I spring from the pages into your arms–decease calls me forth.
– Walt Whitman, “Leaves of Grass”

“Our true birthplace is that in which we cast for the first time an intelligent eye on ourselves. My first homelands were my books.” – Marguerite Yourcenar

“The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.” – Muriel Rukeyser, “The Speed of Darkness”

“Books are the compass and telescope and sextants and charts which other men have prepared to help us navigate the dangerous seas of human life.” ~ Jesse Lee Bennett

“Certain things are perfect the way they are and need no improvement. The sky, the Pacific Ocean, procreation, and the Goldberg Variations all fit this bill, and so do books. Books are sublime, but books are also visceral. They are physically appealing, emotionally evocative objects that constitute a perfect delivery system. ” – Joe Queenan (One for the Books, p. 27)

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends, they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.” – Chalres W. Eliot

“Books support us in our solitude and keep us from being a burden to ourselves.” – Jeremy Collier

“Books are islands in the ocean of time. They are also oases in the deserts of time.” – Lawrence Clark Powell

“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” – Emerson

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King

Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever,” – Philip Pullman

“What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite yo. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.” – Anne Lamott

“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.” – Franz Kafka

“Books hold most of the secrets of the world, most of the thoughts that men and women have had. And when you are reading a book, you and the author are alone together – just the two of you.” – E.B. White

“As with men, it has always seemed to me that books have their own peculiar destinies. They go towards the people who are waiting for them and reach them at the right moment. They are made of living material and continue to cast light through the darkness long after the death of their authors.” – Miguel Serrano (1917-2009), C.G. Jung and Hermann Hesse: A Record of Two Friendships, tr. Frank MacShane (1966; rpt. Einsiedeln: Daimon Verlag, 1997), p. 14.

“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.” ― John Green (The Fault in Our Stars)

“Books don’t make people good. Lots of terrible and mediocre people read (and write). Books aren’t medicine. They fix nothing. Good books ask little and repay us with enjoyment and endurance.” – Patrick Krup, from a blogpost at his blog Anecdotal Evidence

“The virtues of the book are independent of any bells, whistles or animation it might be made to contain… [and] in trying to make the case for books to our kids, exactly the case we want to make is not that they can compete with the virtues of computers or screens, but that they do something else: that they allow for a soulfulness the screens, with their jumpy impersonality, cannot duplicate – any more than the movies can duplicate the intimate intensity of theater, or than the computer can reproduce the shared-hearth-in-living-room experience of television that we now, ironically, recall nostalgically. …What books do depends on the totality of what they are – their turning pages, their sturdy self-sufficiency, above all the way they invite a child to withdraw from this world into a world alongside ours in an activity at once mentally strenuous and physically still.” – ~Adam Gopnik

“The unadmitted reason why traditional readers are hostile to e-books is that we still hold the superstitious idea that a book is like a soul, and that every soul should have its own body. The condensation of millions of books on a single device, or their evaporation in a data cloud, seems to presage what is destined to happen to our souls, to the coming end of selfhood, even of embodiment. If this sounds fanciful, imagine what a lover of hand-written codices might have thought in 1450 about the rise of print. Manuscripts, he would protest, were once rare, hard to create, dedicated to holy or venerable subjects; print would make them cheap, derivative, profane, and easily disposable. And didn’t exactly this happen to human beings in the age of print, which is the modern age?”~ Adam Kirsch, Rocket and Lightship

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