“I dig old books.”
Quotations about Books & Reading
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."
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house. ~Henry Ward Beecher
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
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
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
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
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 love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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.
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!"
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
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)
When a new book is published, read an old one. ~Samuel Rogers
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
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
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
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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
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."
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."
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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"
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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