Bookish Quotes

  • It happens to us once or twice in a lifetime to be drunk with some book which probably has some extraordinary relative power to intoxicate us and none other; and having exhausted that cup of enchantment we go groping in libraries all our years afterwards in the hope of being in Paradise again. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson in a letter to Sam Ward
  • The worst way to read, he said, is with the thought that you do not have enough time. The only way to read is in the knowledge that there is an infinite amount of time stretching ahead, and that if one wishes to taste only afew sentences per day one is free to do so. ~Gabriel Josipovici, Moo Pak
  • Those moments when you feel you want to read something truly beautiful. The eyes make a tour of the library, and there is nothing. Then you decide to take no matter what, and it is full of beautiful things. ~Jules Renard
  • When I think of all the books still left for me to read, I am certain of further happiness. ~Jules Renard
  • There are two motives for reading a book: one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it. ~Bertrand Russell
  • Take the book into your two hands and read your eyes out, you will never find what I find.
    ~Ralph Waldo Emerson in “Spiritual Laws” Essays, First Series
  • Every reader exists to ensure for a certain book a modest immortality. Reading is, in this sense, a ritual of rebirth. ~Alberto Manguel in The Library at Night
  • Some cleric putting a match to her. /Neither of them looks happy about it. /Once lit, she’ll burn like a book, /like a book that was ever finished, /like a locked-up library. ~Margaret Atwood, “Saint Joan of Arc on a Postcard” in The Door
  • But there is no end to the praise of books, to the value of the library. Who shall estimate their influence on our population where all the millions read and write ? It is the joy of nations that man can communicate all his thoughts, discoveries and virtues to records that may last for centuries. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson in “Address at the Opening of Concord Free Public Library”
  • The failure to read good books both enfeebles the vision and strengthens our most fatal tendency — the belief that here and now is all there is. ~Allan Bloom
  • From your parents you learn love and laughter and how to put one foot before the other. But when books are opened you discover that you have wings. ~Helen Hayes
  • The words loved me and I loved them in return.~Sonia Sanchez
  • In the right hands, literature is not resorted to as a consolation, and by the broken and decayed, but as a decalogue.~Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • If the sentences knew how I read them…~Geoffrey O’Brien
  • True literature can exist only where it is created, not by diligent and trustworthy officials, but by madmen, hermits, heretics, dreamers, rebels, and skeptics.~Yevgeny Zamyatin
  • In the highest civilization the book is still the highest delight. He who has once known its satisfactions is provided with a resource against calamity.~Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Instead of going to Paris to attend lectures, go to the public library, and you won’t come out for twenty years, if you really wish to learn.~Leo Tolstoy
  • Reading is important–read between the lines. Don’t swallow everything.~Gwendolyn Brooks
  • ‘T is the good reader that makes the good book.~Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • No book so bad but some part may be of use.~Pliny
  • I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us.~Franz Kafka
  • We continue to believe that books embody the ideas that turn us from isolated souls into a powerful community.~Mission Statement of Harry W Schwartz Bookshops
  • The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.~Ursula Le Guin
  • My home is where my books are.~Ellen Thompson
  • And indeed, what is better than to sit by one’s fireside in the evening with a book, while the wind beats against the window and the lamp is buring?~Gustave Falubert in Madame Bovary
  • But he who truly loves books loves all books alike, and not only this, but it grieves him that all other men do not share with him this noble passion. Verily, this is the most unselfish of loves!~Eugene Field in Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac
  • Malnutrition of the reading faculty is a serious thing.~Christopher Morley in The Haunted Bookshop
  • The world is a library of strange and wonderful books, and sometimes we just need to go prowling through the stacks.~Michael Dirda
  • A collector recently bought at public auction, in London, for one hundred and fifty-seven guineas, an autograph of Shakespeare; but for nothing a school-boy can read Hamlet and can detect secrets of highest concernment yet unpublished therein.~Ralph Waldo Emerson in “Experience”
  • Anyone who has a book collection and a garden wants for nothing.~Cicero
  • Of course, literature is the only spiritual and humane career. Even painting tends to dumness, and music turns people erotic, whereas the more you write the nicer you become.~Virginia Woolf
  • Woke up this morning witha terrific urge to lie in bed all day and read.~Raymond Carver
  • Life is our dictionary.~Ralph Waldo Emerson, The American Scholar
  • If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries.~John F. Kennedy
  • There is then creative reading as well as creative writing. When the mind is braced by labor and invention, the page of whatever book we read becomes luminous with manifold allusion. Every sentence is doubly significant, and the sense of our author is as broad as the world.~Ralph Waldo Emerson, in The American Scholar
  • Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourse of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.~Helen Keller
  • Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today.~Herman Wouk
  • Magazines all too frequently lead to books, and should be regarded by the prudent as the heavy petting of literature.~Fran Lebowitz
  • Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet as that of the viol or lute. Mere words! Was there anything so real as words?~Oscar Wilde in The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Read in order to Live.~Gustave Flaubert
  • Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.~Hazel Rochman
  • A great novel is a kind of conversion experience. We come away from it changed.~Katherine Patterson
  • I only read what I am hungry for at the moment when I have an appetite for it, and then I do not read, I eat.~Simone Weil
  • There are two motives for reading a book: one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it.~Bertrand Russell
  • The book must of necessity be put into a bookcase. And the bookcase must be housed. And the house must be kept. And the library must be dusted, must be arranged, must be catalogued. What a vista of toil, yet not unhappy toil!~William Gladstone
  • What enriches language is its being handled and exploited by beautiful minds–not so much by making innovations as by expanding it through more vigorous and varied applications, by extending it and deploying it. It is not words that they contribute: what they do is enrich their words, deepen their meanings and tie down their usage; they teach it unaccustomed rhythms, prudently though and with ingenuity.~Michel de Montaigne, “On Some Lines of Virgil”
  • I always begin at the left with the opening word of the sentence and read towards the right and I recommend this method.~James Thurber
  • Comerado, this is no book,Who touches this, touches a man,(Is it night? Are we here alone?)It is I you hold, and who holds you,I spring from the pages into your arms–decease calls me forth.~Walt Whitman, “Leaves of Grass”
  • Books must be read as deliberately and as reservedly as they were written.~Henry David Thoreau
  • Second-hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack. Besides, in this random miscellaneous company we may rub against some complete stranger who will, with luck, turn into the best friend we have in the world.~Virginia Woolf in her essay “Street Haunting”
  • There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.~Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996)
  • We agreed that people are now afraid of the English language. He [T.S. Eliot] said it came of being bookish, but not reading books enough. One should read all styles thoroughly.~Virginia Woolf from The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Volume Two: 1920-1924
  • There are those who, while reading a book, recall, compare, conjure up emotions from other, previous readings. This is one of the most delicate forms of adultery.~Ezequiel Martínez Estrada
  • Tough choices face the biblioholic at every step of the way–like choosing between reading and eating, between buying new clothes and buying books, between a reasonable lifestyle and one of penurious but masochistic happiness lived out in the wallow of excess.~Tom Raabe, Biblioholism: The Literary Addiction
  • In some respects the better a book is, the less it demands from the binding.~Charles Lamb
  • I seldom read on beaches or in gardens. You can’t read by two lights at once, the light of day and the light of the book. You should read by electric light, the room in shadow, and only the page lit up.~Marguerite Duras
  • Our true birthplace is that in which we cast for the first time an intelligent eye on ourselves. My first homelands were my books.~Marguerite Yourcenar
  • Poets are never allowed to be mediocre by the gods, by men or by publishers.~Horace as quoted by Montaigne
  • It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.~S.I. Hiyakawa
  • Books are carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculations at a standstill.~Barbara Tuchman
  • All my life I have been trying to learn to read, to see and hear, and to write.~Carl Sandburg
  • The dear good people don’t know how long it takes to learn to read. I’ve been at it eighty years, and can’t say yet that I’ve reached the goal.~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • [To] turn poet, they say, is an infectious and incurable distemper.~Cervantes, Don Quixote, I, 6
  • Books are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time.~E.P. Whipple
  • The smallest bookstore still contains more ideas of worth than have been presented in the entire history of television.~Andrew Ross
  • Time comes into it.Say it. Say it. The universe is made of stories,not of atoms.~Muriel Rukeyser, “The Speed of Darkness”
  • 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

14 thoughts on “Bookish Quotes”

  1. How did you get this page? I want to do something similar for my blogroll, but I just can’t figure out how to make a new page!

  2. It was quite easy. Go to “manage” and “pages.” There you can add page after page. On the page where you actually set up the page, be sure to look at the page template choices. You can do a links page or archives page or there are a few other options. Good luck!

  3. Thanks so much for setting up this page! I love bookish quotes and now I have another good reference.

    Amanda :)

  4. Nice blog. Will keep coming back. Your blog also gave me a ‘subtle’ reminder :-) that I have stopped reading books since a long time, mainly due to work pressure, and partly also due to the joys of playing with my toddler when I get home !
    Am not a voracious reader by any means, but now am thinking of re-lighting my reading-fire – thanks to you :-)

  5. Thanks Taks! Kids are only kids for a little while but books will always be around. Still, I hope you find a way to fit a little reading into your day :)

  6. Hi! You have a very interesting and nice blog. I’m hooked, therefore you’re in my blogroll1 :-)

  7. Great collection of quotes. One of my favorites is:

    “I cannot live without books.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1815

  8. Ohhhhh… I love quotes…. all sorts of quotes….especially bookish ones!

    I love your idea of putting them all together in one place!

    It’s my first time visit, but I look forward to coming again soon.

    Happy reading!

  9. These are wonderful! I hope you don’t mind if I add a few of these to my blog.

  10. I have a Word document in which I’ve been collecting quotes on and off for years … putting them on a blog page is a great idea.

  11. Love these! I collect quotes about all kinds of things, and I keep a (confession coming up) quotes spreadsheet, which is sortable by author or topic and completely searchable, of course. I use them in my blog and sometimes I just go read one or two for the heck of it. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Great collection of quotes. Great to find another bibliophile in the blogosphere.
    Cheers. Alex

  13. Thank you! This is excellent. I adore Ralph Waldo Emerson and love that very first quote on your list. I’m going to print this and chew on these quotes more thoughtfully. Thanks again!

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