The Quote Garden
“I dig old books.”
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Quotations about Books & Reading


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Every man likes to be his own librarian... ~Thomas Frognall Dibdin, "Bibliographiana," The Director: A Weekly Literary Journal, 1807 April 11th


A good book should leave you... slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it. ~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 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]


A good book on your shelf is a friend that turns its back on you and remains a friend. ~Author unknown


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


The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it. ~James Bryce


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 an eager man who wants to read a book and a tired man who wants a book to read. ~G.K. Chesterton


Many people, other than the authors, contribute to the making of a book, from the first person who had the bright idea of alphabetic writing through the inventor of movable type to the lumberjacks who felled the trees that were pulped for its printing. It is not customary to acknowledge the trees themselves, though their commitment is total. ~Forsyth and Rada, Machine Learning


If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it. ~Toni Morrison


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


A good book has no ending. ~R.D. Cumming


I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~Anna Quindlen, "Enough Bookshelves," New York Times, 7 August 1991


Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot


Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it. ~P.J. O'Rourke


Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. ~Attributed to Groucho Marx


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


 
 
[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 man who doesn't read has no advantage over the man who can't read. ~Author unknown


Let books be your dining table,
And you shall be full of delights
Let them be your mattress
And you shall sleep restful nights.
~Author unknown


I know every book of mine by its smell, and I have but to put my nose between the pages to be reminded of all sorts of things. ~George Robert Gissing


A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. ~Chinese Proverb


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


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


My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter. ~Thomas Helm


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


As a rule reading fiction is as hard to me as trying to hit a target by hurling feathers at it. I need resistance to celebrate! ~William James


You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend. ~Paul Sweeney


It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it. ~Oscar Wilde


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


A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul. ~Franz Kafka


Lord! when you sell a man a book you don't sell 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. ~Christopher Morley


Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new after all. ~Abraham Lincoln


The smallest bookstore still contains more ideas of worth than have been presented in the entire history of television. ~Andrew Ross


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


I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage. ~Charles de Secondat, Baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu, Pensées Diverses


To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations — such is a pleasure beyond compare. ~Kenko Yoshida


Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures. ~Jessamyn West


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


I suggest 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. ~E.M. Forster, Two Cheers for Democracy, 1951


He was a tall old man, bowed with a scholar's stoop, and never seen without his silver-rimmed spectacles. He had been glad to find a place where he might live the life of a recluse among his books. As he sat now, his white wig falling in lovelocks about his face, he drummed with taper fingers upon the little round stand beside him, where a musty volume lay at his elbow. He was a bookworm first, and everything else afterward, and he longed to be back in his study where he had been engaged for many years upon a neverending commentary upon Homer. ~Florence Bone (1875–1971), The Morning of To‑Day, 1907 (a little altered)


TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they'll have with twenty-six. Open your child's imagination. Open a book. ~Author Unknown


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]


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


Always look on the bright side of life. Otherwise it'll be too dark to read. ~Author Unknown


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


Books had instant replay long before televised sports. ~Bern Williams


The man that I named the Giver passed along to the boy knoweldge, 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, Walden


To choose a good book, look in an inquisitor's prohibited list. ~John Aikin


In reading, a lonely quiet concert is given to our minds; all our mental faculties will be present in this symphonic exaltation. ~Stéphane Mallarmé


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


Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled "This could change your life."  ~Helen Exley


There is a wonder in reading Braille that the sighted will never know: to touch words and have them touch you back. ~Jim Fiebig


This will never be a civilized country until we expend more money for books than we do for chewing gum. ~Elbert Hubbard


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


We read in bed because reading is halfway between life and dreaming, our own consciousness in someone else's mind. ~Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life, 1998


I am a bookworm, old and crusty,
Thro' midnight hours my pen I ply.
Be there an ancient parchment dusty,
The man to wipe that dust, is I.
~Gilbert à Beckett (1837–1891), Three Tenants  [Quoted character: Mr. Grope, a Gentleman in search of quiet. Three Tenants is a petite musical comedy. This wording is from the 1897 script. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life. ~Mark Twain


A book is to me like a hat or coat — a very uncomfortable thing until the newness has been worn off. ~Charles B. Fairbanks


If you resist reading what you disagree with, how will you ever acquire deeper insights into what you believe? The things most worth reading are precisely those that challenge our convictions. ~Author unknown


Books are the glass of council to dress ourselves by. ~Bulstrode Whitlock


Reading means borrowing. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Aphorisms


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


Book lovers never go to bed alone. ~Author unknown


Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing. ~Harper Lee


The scholar only knows how dear these silent, yet eloquent, companions of pure thoughts and innocent hours become in the season of adversity. When all that is worldly turns to dross around us, these only retain their steady value. ~Washington Irving


When you reread a classic you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than was there before. ~Clifton Fadiman


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


For friends... do but look upon good Books: they are true friends, that will neither flatter nor dissemble. ~Francis Bacon


A book that is shut is but a block. ~Thomas Fuller


In books lies the soul of the whole Past Time: the articulate audible voice of the Past, when the body and material substance of it has altogether vanished like a dream. ~Thomas Carlyle


There are books so alive that you're always afraid that while you weren't reading, the book has gone and changed, has shifted like a river; while you went on living, it went on living too, and like a river moved on and moved away. No one has stepped twice into the same river. But did anyone ever step twice into the same book? ~Marina Tsvetaeva


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


The stories of childhood leave an indelible impression, and their author always has a niche in the temple of memory from which the image is never cast out to be thrown on the rubbish heap of things that are outgrown and outlived. ~Howard Pyle


No man can be called friendless who has God and the companionship of good books. ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning


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]


Medicine for the soul. ~Inscription over the door of the Library at Thebes


Books are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time. ~E.P. Whipple


[Y]ou turn your back on Sylvia and she's got her nose in a book... ~Arthur Miller, Broken Glass, 1994


[S]he had been christened quite differently, but everybody called her Scholastica, because she always had her little nose in a book... ~Louis de Wohl, Citadel of God, 1959


Characteristically, the budding litterateur has had his nose in a book. ~Pierre de la Ruffinière du Prey, The Villas of Pliny from Antiquity to Posterity, 1994


They... were kept nose-in-books... ~Richard D. Lewis, The Road from Wigan Pier: Memoirs of a Linguist, "University Days," 1998


I have my nose stuck in a book just about as often as I breathe. ~Terri Guillemets, "Raiding bookshelves," 2003


I? Never in the world—lying here with my nose in a book and never seeing anything. ~Henry James, "The Patagonia," in The English Illustrated Magazine, August 1888  [And a lovely example of the shortest sentence possible. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


I just love books, don't you?... My sister always says to me... 'you always have your nose stuck in a book.' And that's the truth…I always have got my nose stuck in a book. I'm always reading.... I just love books! I'd like to buy every book in the shop. ~Frances Klenett, "I Just Love Books," in Antiquarian Bookman, 1952


He read and read and read, and when he didn't have his nose stuck in a book, he wrote and wrote and wrote. ~Paul Magrs (b.1969), "The Godfather," 2000


It is better to have your nose in a book than in someone else's business. ~Adam Stanley


Thomas Quiller Couch.... used to drive about the country in a queer-shaped carriage filled with books, and read all the way. Very often you'd meet the carriage first, filled with halt, maimed, and blind, who had crowded him out: and the old man following on foot, zig-zagging along the road, with his nose in a book... ~Arthur T. Quiller Couch, 1891  [His pseudonym was Q. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves. From each of them goes out its own voice... and just as the touch of a button on our set will fill the room with music, so by taking down one of these volumes and opening it, one can call into range the voice of a man far distant in time and space, and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart. ~Gilbert Highet


"Tell me what you read and I'll tell you who you are" is true enough, but I'd know you better if you told me what you reread. ~François Mauriac


There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them. ~Joseph Brodsky


Jack Wootton is a Virginian and bookworm, in the sense of 'worm' meaning 'dragon' — he hoards books on shelves and in spare rooms and likes to sleep surrounded by them. ~J. Aleksandr Wootton, "About the Author," www.jackwootton.com


Books are embalmed minds. ~Bovee


Children don't read to find their identity, to free themselves from guilt, to quench the thirst for rebellion or to get rid of alienation. They have no use for psychology.... They still believe in God, the family, angels, devils, witches, goblins, logic, clarity, punctuation, and other such obsolete stuff.... When a book is boring, they yawn openly. They don't expect their writer to redeem humanity, but leave to adults such childish illusions. ~Isaac Bashevis Singer, 1978


I divide all readers into two classes; those who read to remember and those who read to forget. ~William Lyon Phelps


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


There is a temperate zone in the mind, between luxurious indolence and exacting work; and it is to this region, just between laziness and labor, that summer reading belongs. ~Henry Ward Beecher


Nothing is worth reading that does not require an alert mind. ~Charles Dudley Warner


If you have never said "Excuse me" to a parking meter or bashed your shins on a fireplug, you are probably wasting too much valuable reading time. ~Sherri Chasin Calvo


The walls of books around him, dense with the past, formed a kind of insulation against the present world and its disasters. ~Ross MacDonald


The oldest books are still only just out to those who have not read them. ~Samuel Butler


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


I have friends whose society is delightful to me; they are persons of all countries and of all ages; distinguished in war, in council, and in letters; easy to live with, always at my command. ~Francesco Petrarch


Good as it is to inherit a library, it is better to collect one. ~Augustine Birrell, Obiter Dicta, "Book Buying"


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"


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


To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting. ~Edmund Burke


The art of reading is in great part that of acquiring a better understanding of life from one's encounter with it in a book. ~André Maurois


They dwell in the odour of camphor...
These worshipful tomes of mine...
Blind-tooled and morocco-jointed,
They have Bedford's daintiest dress,
They are graceful, attenuate, polished,
But they gather the dust, no less...
Montaigne with his sheep-skin blistered,
And Howell the worse for wear,
And the worm-drilled Jesuits' Horace,
And the little old cropped Molière...
~Austin Dobson (1840–1921), "My Books"


A house without books is like a room without windows. ~Heinrich Mann


From my point of view, a book is a literary prescription put up for the benefit of someone who needs it. ~S.M. Crothers


He fed his spirit with the bread of books. ~Edwin Markham


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


Bread of flour is good; but there is bread, sweet as honey, if we would eat it, in a good book. ~John Ruskin


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


Most books, like their authors, are born to die; of only a few books can it be said that death hath no dominion over them; they live, and their influence lives forever. ~J. Swartz


A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counsellor, a multitude of counsellors. ~Henry Ward Beecher


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


I consider as lovers of books not those who keep their books hidden in their store-chests and never handle them, but those who, by nightly as well as daily use thumb them, batter them, wear them out, who fill out all the margins with annotations of many kinds, and who prefer the marks of a fault they have erased to a neat copy full of faults. ~Desiderius Erasmus


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)


Having your book turned into a movie is like seeing your oxen turned into bouillon cubes. ~John LeCarre


Never judge a book by its movie. ~J.W. Eagan


I do not wish to be misunderstood or to do any wrong to the bookworm, a class to whom I feel most kindly. They generally spend their years and money in the endeavor to climb as high as possible on the ladder of mental perfection, and they out not to be ridiculed, as they often are. They may appear a dry class of people to the convivial nature of our modern jeunesse dorée, who spend their leisure hours and spare cash... in company with something livelier than a set of black-letter prints, but still they are a class most venerable and highly appreciable. ~Gustav Boehm, "A Discourse on Title Page Composition," in The Inland Printer (Chicago), March 1886


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


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]


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


Far more seemly were it for thee to have thy study full of books, than thy purse full of money. ~John Lyly


The wise man reads both books and life itself. ~Lin Yutang


I often derive a peculiar satisfaction in conversing with the ancient and modern dead, — who yet live and speak excellently in their works. My neighbors think me often alone, — and yet at such times I am in company with more than five hundred mutes — each of whom, at my pleasure, communicates his ideas to me by dumb signs — quite as intelligently as any person living can do by uttering of words. ~Laurence Sterne


You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be -
I had a mother who read to me.
~Strickland Gillilan (Thanks, Laurel)


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]


When a new book is published, read an old one. ~Samuel Rogers


[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


Borrowers of books — those mutilators of collections, spoilers of the symmetry of shelves, and creators of odd volumes. ~Charles Lamb, Essays of Elia, "The Two Races of Men," 1822


He who lends a book is an idiot. He who returns the book is more of an idiot. ~Arabic proverb


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 mere brute pleasure of reading — the sort of pleasure a cow must have in grazing. ~Lord Chesterfield


Time-eaten, like his books, and worn
      With teen and strong endeavour,
      Pure heart, flame burning ever,
      Whence lofty thought and verse were born,
      With lamp-lit toil he met the morn.
And wealth bequeathed by ages old
      Stood round him piled, enshelved,
      Wherein he nightly delved,
      Nor paused when grey was smitten gold...
~J.J. Britton (1832–1913), "A Bookworm," A Sheaf of Ballads, 1884


An ordinary man can... surround himself with two thousand books... and thenceforward have at least one place in the world in which it is possible to be happy. ~Augustine Birrell


Books — the best antidote against the marsh-gas of boredom and vacuity. ~George Steiner


Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. But a book is never just a book. ~The Old Sage Bookshop in Prescott, Arizona


We are too civil to books. For a few golden sentences we will turn over and actually read a volume of four or five hundred pages. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Follow Terri Guillemets' board Books, Reading, Journals on Pinterest.


From every book invisible threads reach out to other books; and as the mind comes to use and control those threads the whole panorama of the world's life, past and present, becomes constantly more varied and interesting, while at the same time the mind's own powers of reflection and judgment are exercised and strengthened. ~Helen E. Haines


To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life. ~W. Somerset Maugham


No matter what his rank or position may be, the lover of books is the richest and happiest of the children of men. ~John Alfred Langford


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)


How vast an estate it is that we came into as the intellectual heirs of all the watchers and searchers and thinkers and singers of the generations that are dead! What a heritage of stored wealth! What perishing poverty of mind we should be left in without it! ~J.N. Larned


Books are a uniquely portable magic. ~Stephen King


The notes he writ were barely dry...
Checked at the leaf where Death—
The final commentator—thrust
His cold "Here endeth Dryasdust."
The face of men, he nowise knew,
Or careless turned from these
To delve, in folios' rust and must...
And so, with none to close his eyes,
And none to mourn him dead,
He in his dumb book-Babel lies
With grey dust garmented.
Let be: pass on. It is but just...
Write his Hic Jacet in the Dust.
~Austin Dobson (1840–1921), "The Bookworm"  [The Latin phrase means epitaph, literally "here lies." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


He retired to his bibliomaniacal bed... ~Thomas Frognall Dibdin, "The Drawing Room,"Bibliomania; or, Book Madness: A Bibliographical Romance, 1811


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


That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed with profit. ~Amos Bronson Alcott


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


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


The multitude of books is making us ignorant. ~Voltaire


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


There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book; books are well written or badly written. ~Oscar Wilde, Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891


Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. ~Richard Steele, Tatler, 1710


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]


What the candystore was to other kids, the bookstore was to me. The library was my vacation. ~Terri Guillemets, "Young bookworm," 1998


The best of a book is not the thought which it contains, but the thought which it suggests; just as the charm of music dwells not in the tones but in the echoes of our hearts. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes


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


Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house. ~Henry Ward Beecher


One to whom books are as strangers has not yet learned to live. He is a solitary, though he dwell amid a vast population. On the other hand, he to whom books are as friends possesses a Key to the Garden of Delights, where the purest pleasures are open for his entertainment, and where he has for his companions the master minds of all the ages. ~Charles Noel Douglas, "Introduction," Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical


My imagination doesn't require anything more of the book than to provide a framework within which it can wander. ~Alphonse Daudet


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


Why, then, am I so uneasy about the page-to-screen transfer—a skeptic if not a downright resister? Perhaps it is because I see in the turning of literal pages—pages bound in literal books—a compelling larger value, and perceive in the move away from the book a move away from a certain kind of cultural understanding, one that I'm not confident that we are replacing, never mind improving upon. I'm not blind to the unwieldiness of the book, or to the cumbersome systems we must maintain to accommodate it—the vast libraries and complicated filing systems. But these structures evolved over centuries in ways that map our collective endeavor to understand and express our world. The book is part of a system. And that system stands for the labor and taxonomy of human understanding, and to touch a book is to touch that system, however lightly. The electronic book, on the other hand, represents—and furthers—a circuitry of instant access... We may gain an extraordinary dots-per-square-inch level of access to detail, but in the process we will lose much of our sense of the woven narrative consistency of the story. That is the trade-off. Access versus context. ~Sven Birkerts (b.1951), "Resisting the Kindle," The Atlantic, 2009 March 2nd


Books have to be read (worse luck it takes so long a time). It is the only way of discovering what they contain. A few savage tribes eat them, but reading is the only method of assimilation revealed to the West. ~E.M. Forster


Books are a hard-bound drug with no danger of an overdose. I am the happy victim of books. ~Karl Lagerfeld


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


Let your bookcases and your shelves be your gardens and your pleasure-grounds. Pluck the fruit that grows therein, gather the roses, the spices, and the myrrh. ~Judah Ibn Tibbon


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


I'm a bad girl. I read past my bedtime. ~Author unknown


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


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


The truest owner of a library is he who has bought each book for the love he bears to it; who is happy and content to say, "Here are my jewels, my choicest possessions!" ~Frank Carr


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~Francis Bacon


Books are a refuge, a sort of cloistral refuge, from the vulgarities of the actual world. ~Walter Pater


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"


Sit bona librorum copia. ~Horace (There are plenty of good books. Let me have a good supply of books.)


No person who can read is ever successful at cleaning out an attic. ~Ann Landers


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


That place that does contain
My books, the best companions, is to me
A glorious court, where hourly I converse
With the old sages and philosophers;
And sometimes, for variety, I confer
With kings and emperors, and weigh their counsels;
Calling their victories, if unjustly got,
Unto a strict account, and, in my fancy,
Deface their ill-placed statues.
~Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher


There are books in which the footnotes, or the comments scrawled by some reader's hand in the margin, are more interesting than the text. ~George Santayana, "Imagination"


You can't get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. ~C.S. Lewis, quoted by Walter Hooper


A health to books!...
Your goblets all refill;
When all things mortal are decayed
May books be with us still!
~Cyril M. Drew


A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint.... What I began by reading, I must finish by acting. ~Henry David Thoreau


To read a book for the first time is to make an acquaintance with a new friend; to read it for a second time is to meet an old one. ~Chinese Saying


O for a Booke and a shadie nooke, eyther in-a-doore or out;
With the grene leaves whisp'ring overhede, or the Streete cryes all about.
Where I maie Reade all at my ease, both of the Newe and Olde;
For a jollie goode Booke whereon to looke is better to me than Golde.
~John Wilson


Thou patient grub, that through this volume old
Thy labyrinthine way hast bored—
Not for the wealth of wisdom stored
Between its oaken lids—not for the bold
And soaring fancy—not or the gold
Of human sympathy outpoured,
Like treasures from some secret hoard,
Upon its ample pages stained with mould...
~T.J. Chapman, "To A Bookworm," c.1887


Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folks have lent me. ~Anatole France


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


A man may as well expect to grow stronger by always eating as wiser by always reading. ~Jeremy Collier


An odour of a book is a complex mixture of odorous volatiles, emitted from different materials from which books are made. Due to the different materials used to make books throughout history, there is no one characteristic odour of old books.... The pleasant aromatic smell is due to aromatic compounds emitted mainly from papers made from ground wood which are characterised by their yellowish-brown colour. They emit vanilla-like, sweetly fragrant vanillin, aromatic anisol and benzaldehyde, with fruity almond-like odor. On the other hand, terpene compounds, deriving from rosin, which is used to make paper more impermeable to inks, contribute to the camphorous, oily and woody smell of books. A mushroom odour is caused by some other, intensely fragrant aliphatic alcohols. ~Jana Kolar (The Naked Scientists' Science Questions, 2008 February 17th, "The Smell of Old Books," www.thenakedscientists.com)  #bibliosmia


Books are immortal sons deifying their sires. ~Plato


No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting. ~Mary Wortley Montagu


[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]


I would never read a book if it were possible for me to talk half an hour with the man who wrote it. ~Woodrow Wilson


Books, not which afford us a cowering enjoyment, but in which each thought is of unusual daring; such as an idle man cannot read, and a timid one would not be entertained by, which even make us dangerous to existing institution — such call I good books. ~Henry David Thoreau


It often requires more courage to read some books than it does to fight a battle. ~Sutton Elbert Griggs


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


Many persons read and like fiction. It does not tax the intelligence and the intelligence of most of us can so ill afford taxation that we rightly welcome any reading matter which avoids this. ~Rose Macaulay


Browsing the dim back corner
Of a musty antique shop
Opened an old book of poetry
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.
~Terri Guillemets


But you said he drank. Is it likely he has a taste for manuscripts? He's almost sure to have had. Most probably it was the manuscripts that drove him to drink. They would, you know, unless he was exceptionally strong minded. ~George A. Birmingham, Spanish Gold, 1908


Americans like fat books and thin women. ~Russell Baker


What holy cities are to nomadic tribes — a symbol of race and a bond of union — great books are to the wandering souls of men: they are the Meccas of the mind. ~G.E. Woodberry


God be thanked for books! they are the voices of the distant and the dead, and make us heirs of the spiritual life of past ages. ~W.E. Channing


I feel no need of nature's flowers—
      Of flowers of rhetoric I have store;
      I do not miss the balmy showers—
      When books are dry I o'er them pore...
Why should I scratch my precious skin
      By crawling through a hawthorn hedge,
      When Hawthorne, raking up my sin,
      Stands tempting on the nearest ledge?
~Irving Browne (1835–1899), "The Bookworm Does Not Care For Nature"


A good book is always on tap; it may be decanted and drunk a hundred times, and it is still there for further imbibement. ~Holbrook Jackson


A blessed companion is a book, — a book that, fitly chosen, is a lifelong friend,... a book that, at a touch, pours its heart into our own. ~Douglas Jerrold


[W]omen and books should be looked at daily. ~Dutch Proverb


      'Bookworms' are now almost exclusively known in the secondary and derivative meaning of the word as porers over dry books; but there was a time when the real worms were as ubiquitous as our cockroaches. They would start at the first or last page and tunnel circular holes through the volume, and were cursed by librarians.... They were dignified, like other disagreeable things, with fine Latin names....
      The most audacious beast of our days is the cutter-out of plates.... Towards him we feel a ferocity that is merciless. We should like to extract a tooth without anæsthetics for every plate he has purloined.
      ~"The Sufferings and Death of Books," Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, 1890 August 30th


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


Reading — the best state yet to keep absolute loneliness at bay. ~William Styron


[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


A large, still book is a piece of quietness, succulent and nourishing in a noisy world, which I approach and imbibe with "a sort of greedy enjoyment," as Marcel Proust said of those rooms of his old home whose air was "saturated with the bouquet of silence."  ~Holbrook Jackson


"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


'Tis the good reader that makes the good book; in every book he finds passages which seem confidences or asides hidden from all else and unmistakenly meant for his ear; the profit of books is according to the sensibility of the reader; the profoundest thought or passion sleeps as in a mine, until it is discovered by an equal mind and heart. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Society and Solitude, 1870


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


Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you. ~Harold Bloom


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


The book of the moment often has immense vogue, while the book of the age, which comes in its company from the press, lies unnoticed; but the great book has its revenge. It lives to see its contemporary pushed up shelf by shelf until it finds its final resting-place in the garret or the auction room. ~Hamilton Wright Mabie


The time to read is any time: no apparatus, no appointment of time and place, is necessary. It is the only art which can be practised at any hour of the day or night, whenever the time and inclination comes, that is your time for reading; in joy or sorrow, health or illness. ~Holbrook Jackson


I knew a gentleman who was so good a manager of his time that he would not even lose that small portion of it which the calls of nature obliged him to pass in the necessary-house; but gradually went through all the Latin poets in those moments. ~Lord Chesterfield


This nice and subtle happiness of reading, this joy not chilled by age, this polite and unpunished vice, this selfish, serene life-long intoxication. ~Logan Pearsall Smith


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)


Books are delightful society. If you go into a room and find it full of books — even without taking them from the shelves they seem to speak to you, to bid you welcome. ~William Ewart Gladstone


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



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