The Quotable Book Lover

The Quotable Book Lover

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This “uniquely valuable reference” filled with over five hundred quotations is a bibliophile’s delight (Library Journal).
A room without books is like a body without a soul. —Cicero
This collection of quotations about books captures the wisdom and wit of such legendary figures as: Aeschylus, Ernest Hemingway, John Ruskin, Harper Lee, Toni Morrison, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Scribner, Maya Angelou, Franz Kafka, George Bernard Shaw, Jane Austen, Helen Keller, Wallace Stevens, Francis Bacon, Malcolm X, Robert Penn Warren, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Groucho Marx, William Carlos Williams, William Faulkner, John Milton, Oprah Winfrey, Robert Frost, George Orwell, W.B. Yeats, and many more.
Encompassing the many facets of books and the pleasures and puzzlements they afford, The Quotable Book Lover includes chapters on writing, reading, and bookbinding, among other subjects. It’s a treasury that bibliophiles can browse through for hours—as well as a useful tool for anyone who works with books.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626364851
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Publication date: 07/01/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 347,800
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Jane Austen (1775–1817) was an English novelist known for her fiction set among England’s landed gentry. She was the seventh of eight children and was educated mostly at home in Hampshire. Her best-known works include Pride and PrejudiceSense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, and Emma. Although her novels, all of which were published anonymously, did not bring her fame during her lifetime, she is now one of the most widely read writers in the English language. 

Helena Hjalmarsson, M.A., L.C.S.W., L.P., is a psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City. Her practice is informed by the idea that everything is interconnected, the healing powers of true acceptance, and a belief in living in the now. She is the coauthor of The Quotable Book Lover and her article “Transference Opportunities During the Therapist’s Pregnancy” was published in Psychoanalytic Social Work. She lives in New York City with her two daughters, Lina and Elsa.

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In Praise of Books

The books we read help to shape who we are. Reading offers us, as children, our first independence — allowing us to travel far beyond the confines of our immediate world. Books introduce us to great figures in history, narratives that stir our spirit, fictions that tug us out of ourselves and into the lives of a thousand others, and visions of every era through which human beings have lived. And in the process of stretching who we are, books also connect us to all others — of our own or previous times — who have read what we've read. In the community of readers, we instantly become linked to those who share our love for specific characters or passages.

"A well-composed book," says Caroline Gordon, "is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way."

Here, then, are some words in praise of that magic carpet.

* * *

Books may well be the only true magic.

Alice Hoffman

* * *

A well-composed book is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way.

Caroline Gordon (1895-1981)

* * *

Books are the carriers of civilization ... They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind. Books are humanity in print.

Barbara W. Tuchman (1912-1989)

* * *

Good books are the warehouses of ideas. H. G. WELLS (1866-1946)

Books admitted me to their world open-handedly, as people for their most part, did not. The life I lived in books was one of ease and freedom, worldly wisdom, glitter, dash and style.

JONATHAN RABAN For Love and Money (1987)

* * *

I grew up kissing books and bread.

Salman Rushdie Imaginary Homelands (1992)

* * *

Bread and books: food for the body and food for the soul — what could be more worthy of our respect, and even love?

Salman Rushdie Imaginary Homelands (1992)

* * *

A book is a version of the world. If you do not like it, ignore it; or offer your own version in return.

Salman Rushdie Imaginary Homelands (1992)

* * *

How beautiful to a genuine lover of reading are the sullied leaves and worn-out appearance, nay the very odour (beyond Russia) if we would not forget kind feelings in fastidiousness, of an old "Circulating library" Tom Jones or Vicar of Wakefield. How they speak of the thousand thumbs that have turned over their pages with delight.

Charles Lamb "Detached Thoughts on Books and Reading" (1822)

* * *

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.

Charles Lamb Last Essays of Elia (1833)

Books must be the axe to break the frozen sea inside me. FRANZ KAFKA (1883-1924)

A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on a purpose to a life beyond life.

John Milton "Areopagitica" (1644)

For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are: nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest effigy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.

John Milton "Areopagitica" (1644)

An author who speaks about his own books is almost as bad as a mother who talks about her own children.

Benjamin Disraeli A Speech in Glasgow (November 19, 1873)

* * *

A bibliophile of little means is likely to suffer often. Books don't slip from his hands but fly past him through the air, high as birds, high as prices.

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) Memoirs (1974)

* * *

It is with the reading of books the same as with looking at pictures; one must, without doubt, without hesitations, with assurance, admire what is beautiful.

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)

It is with books as with men: a very small number play a great part.

Voltaire (1694-1778)

* * *

Books are the true levellers.

William Ellery Channing, "Self-Culture" (1838)

* * *

My books are water; those of great geniuses are wine. Everybody drinks water.

Mark Twain Notebook (December 11, 1885)

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)

Laws die, books never.

Edward George Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873)

Books are necessary to correct the vices of the polite.

Oliver Goldsmith (C. 1730-1774)

Real education consists in drawing the best out of yourself. What better book can there be than the book of humanity?

Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948)

I like a thin book because it will steady a table, a leather volume because it will strop a razor, and a heavy book because it can be thrown at a cat.

Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Books will speak plain when counsellors blanch.

Francis Bacon "Of Counsel" (1625)

The pale usher — threadbare in coat, heart, body, and brain; I see him now. He was ever dusting his old lexicons and grammars, with a queer handkerchief, mockingly embellished with all the gay flags of all the known nations of the world. He loved to dust his old grammars, it somehow mildly reminded him of his own mortality.

Herman Melville Moby Dick (1851)

The lessons taught in great books are misleading. The commerce in life is rarely so simple and never so just.

Anita Brookner Novelists in Interview (1985)

Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst. What is the right use? What is the one end which all means go to effect? They are for nothing but to inspire.

Ralph Waldo Emerson "The American Scholar" (1837)

The good of a book lies in its being read. A book is made up of signs that speak of other signs, which in their turn speak of things.

Umberto Eco The Name of the Rose (1981)

Until it is kindled by a spirit as lovingly alive as the one which gave it birth a book is dead to us. Words divested of their magic are but dead hieroglyphs.

Henry Miller The Books in My Life (1951)

It is more of a job to interpret the interpretations than to interpret the things, and there are more books about books than about any other subject: we do nothing but write glosses about each other.

Michel De Montaigne Essays (1580)

* * *

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some are to be chewed And digested.

Francis Bacon Essays (1625)

Of all the inanimate objects, of all men's creations, books are the nearest to us, for they contain our very thought, our ambitions, our indignations, our illusions, our fidelity to truth and our persistent leaning toward error.

Joseph Conrad "Notes On Life and Letters" (1857-1924)

Books, like proverbs, receive their chief value from the stamp and esteem of ages through which they have passed.

Sir William Temple (1628-1699)

* * *

Books, the children of the brain.

Jonathan Swift A Tale of a Tub (1704)

Books that you may carry to the fire, and hold readily in one hand, are the most useful after all.

Samuel Johnson In Sir John Hawkins, Life of Johnson (1787)

Your borrowers of books — those mutilators of collections, spoilers of symmetry of shelves, and creators of odd volumes.

Charles Lamb "The Two Races of Men" Essays of Elia (1823)

Books think for me.

Charles Lamb Essays of Elia (1823)

* * *

The true university of these days is a collection of books.

Thomas Carlyle "The Hero As Man Of Letters" On Heroes and Hero Worship ( 1841)

Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them.

Ralph Waldo Emerson "The Poet" Essays Second Series (1844)

* * *

All books are divisible into two classes: the books of the hour, and the books of all Time.

John Ruskin "of Kings' Treasuries" Sesame And Lilies (1865)

Books are good enough in their own way, but they are a mightily bloodless substitute for life.

* * *

Robert Louis Stevenson "An Apology for Idlers" Vlrginibus Puerisque (1881)

* * *

Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered.

W. H. Auden "Reading" The Dyer's Hand (1962)

* * *

"What is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"

Lewis Carroll Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865)

For books are more than books. They are the life, the very heart and core of ages past, the reason why men lived and worked and died, the essence and quintessence of their lives.

Amy Lowell (1874-1925)

In some respects the better a book is, the less it demands from the binding.

Charles Lamb (1775-1834)

I devoured books like a person taking vitamins, afraid that otherwise I would remain this gelatinous narcissist, with no possibility of ever becoming thoughtful, of ever being taken seriously.

Anne Lamott Bird by Bird (1995)

There are many people — happy people, it usually appears — whose thoughts at Christmas always turn to books. The notion of a Christmas tree with no books under it is repugnant and unnatural to them.

Robertson Davies The Merry Heart (1997)

What spectacle can be more edifying or more seasonable, than that of liberty and learning, each leaning on the other for their mutual and surest support.

James Madison (1751-1836) "On The Library of Congress"

What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours.

J. D. Salinger The Catcher in the Rye (1951)

The love of novels is the preference of sentiment to the senses.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

People think that because a novel's invented it isn't true. Exactly the reverse is the case. Biography and memoirs can never wholly be true, since they cannot include every conceivable circumstance of what happened. The novel can do that.

Anthony Powell in The Independent (November 25, 1989)

* * *

A novel is balanced between a few true impressions and the multitude of false ones that make up most of what we call life.

Saul Bellow Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech (1976)

The novel remains for me one of the few forms where we can record man's Complexity and the strength and decency of his longings. Where we can describe, step by step, minute by minute, our not altogether unpleasant struggle to put ourselves into a viable and devout relationship to our beloved and mistaken world.

John Cheever National Book Award Acceptance Speech (1958)

Novel, n. A short story padded.

Ambrose Bierce The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

* * *

A book is like a man — clever and dull, brave and cowardly, beautiful and ugly. For every flowering thought there will be a page like a wet and mangy mongrel.

John Steinbeck Writers at Work — Fourth Series (1976)

* * *

Magazines all too frequently lead to books, and should be regarded by the prudent as the heavy petting of literature.

Fran Lebowitz Metropolitan Life (1978)

It is chiefly through books that we enjoy intercourse with superior minds.

William Ellery Channing (1780-1842)

There is a certain kind of child who awakens from a book as from an abyssal sleep, swimming heavily up through layers of consciousness toward a reality that seems less real than the dreamstate that has been left behind. I was such a child.

Anne Fadiman Ex Libris (1998)

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

Oprah Winfrey (1954-)

There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)

The age of the book is about gone.

George Steiner (1929- )

* * *

Comerado, this is no book, Who touches this touches a man.

Walt Whitman "So Long!" (1881)

* * *

I cannot live without books.

Thomas Jefferson In a letter to John Adams (June 10,1815)


On Writing

The written word preserves what otherwise might be lost among the impressions that inundate our lives. Thoughts, insights, and perceptions constantly threaten to leave us before we have the opportunity to grasp their meaning. Writing can keep technology-driven, fast-paced, quick-fix, ambiguity-intolerant modern life from overpowering us — and give us something palpable upon which to reflect. Reflection slows matters down. It analyzes what was previously unexamined, and opens doors to different interpretations of what was there all along. Writing, by encouraging reflection, intensifies life.

Mirroring the many dimensions of writing, this section records a variety of different matters: the joy and satisfaction and technique of writing; how writing can heal; and how it can change society. Though they address diverse issues, the quotes that follow clearly share a common desire — to shed light on the mystery and complexity of both the process of writing and the product.


The Challenge of Writing

I think there are four great motives for writing ... (1) Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc. ... (2) Aesthetic enthusiasm ... (3) Historical impulse. Desire ... to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity. (4) Political purpose ... Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other people's ideas of the kind of society that they should strive after.

George Orwell "Why I Write" (1947)

* * *

I write in order to attain that feeling of tension relieved and function achieved, which a cow enjoys on giving milk.

H. L. Mencken (1880-1956)

I write because I want more than one life; I insist on a wider selection. It's greed plain and simple. When my characters join the circus, I'm joining the circus. Although I'm happily married, I spent a great deal of time mentally living with incompatible husbands.

Anne Tyler (1941- )

One of the most difficult things is the first paragraph. I have spent many months on a first paragraph and once I get it, the rest comes out very easily. In the first paragraph you solve most of the problems with your book. The theme is defined, the style, the tone.

Gabriel García Márquez in George Plimpton, ed., The Writer's Chapbook (1989)

* * *

The futility of all prefaces I long ago realized; for the more a writer strives to make his views clear, the more confusion he creates.

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe Poetry and Truth (1811-1833)

The last thing one discovers in composing a work is what to put first.

Blaise Pascal Pensées (1670)

A good writer always works at the impossible. There is another kind who pulls in his horizons, drops his mind as one lowers rifle sights.

John Steinbeck Writers At Work — Fourth Series (1976)

* * *

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.

William Faulkner Writers At Work — First Series (1958)

It has taken me years of struggle, hard work and research to learn to make one simple gesture, and I know enough about the art of writing to realize that it would take as many years of concentrated effort to write one simple beautiful sentence.

Isadora Duncan (c. 1878-1927)

* * *

A phrase is born into the world both good and bad at the same time. The secret lies in a slight, an almost invisible twist. The lever should rest in your hand, getting warm, and you can only turn it once, not twice.

Isaac Babel "Guy De Maupassant" (1932)

* * *

I began to speak of style, of the army of words, of the army in which all kinds of weapons may come into play. No iron can stab the heart with such force as a period put just at the right place.

Isaac Babel "Guy De Maupassant" (1932)

* * *

A book is a mirror: if an ape looks into it an apostle is hardly likely to look out.

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799) Aphorisms (1764-1799)

* * *

A bad book is as much of a labor to write as a good one; it comes as sincerely from the author's soul.

Aldous Huxley Point Counter Point (1928)

* * *

The art of writing, like the art of love, runs all the way from a kind of routine hard to distinguish from piling bricks to a kind of frenzy closely related to delirium tremens.

H. L. Mencken Minority Report (1956)

* * *

With each book you write you should lose the admirers you gained with the previous one.

André Gide (1869-1951) It's much more important to write than to be written about.

gabriel garcia márquez (1928-) Writers At Work — Sixth Series (1984)

It is just as well that it came to an end. The endless cohabitation with these imaginary people had begun to make me not a little nervous.

Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.

Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)

* * *

Giving birth to a book is always an abominable torture for me, because it cannot answer my imperious need for universality and totality.

Émile Zola (1840-1902)

I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible vanity, the most unlearned and uninformed female who ever dared to be an authoress.

Jane Austen (1775-1817)

To write well, express yourself like the common people, but think like a wise man.

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)

* * *

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it.

H. G. Wells (1866-1946)

* * *

The difference between the almost-right word & the right word is really a large matter — it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.

Mark Twain In a Letter to George Bainton (1888)


Excerpted from "The Quotable Book Lover"
by .
Copyright © 1999 Ben Jacobs and Helena Hjalmarsson.
Excerpted by permission of Skyhorse Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Nicholas A. Basbanes,
1 In Praise of Books,
2 On Writing,
3 Autobiography and Biography,
4 Reading,
5 Libraries,
6 Literacy,
7 Censorship and the Destruction of Books,
8 Publishing and Publishers,
9 Literature,
10 Collecting Books,

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The Quotable Book Lover 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Magadri on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good collection of literary quotes about literature and reading in general. I found several quotes that I really like by reading this book.